The re:asian editorial team reflects on our inaugural issue, FIRSTS

For children of the diaspora, there’s a shame that precedes so many of our firsts: admitting that you don’t know how to cook your grandmother’s congee, that you’ve never set foot in the country where your parents grew up, or that you’ve never learned to like your body.As contributor Nina Sudhakar writes about learning to tie a sari for the first time, “it feels like a failure as fundamental as forgetting how to breathe.” Certain firsts mean forcing open the doors that were closed to us by the constraints of assimilation and white supremacy.

The point of the FIRSTS issue was not to regurgitate canonical firsts – first word, first kiss, first heartbreak. Instead, our FIRSTS issue seeks to trouble the virginity narrative that cleaves our lives into an artificial “before” and an “after.” A first can be an always, a never-again, or a to-be-continued.

Our FIRSTS issue – made possible by contributors scattered across North America and beyond – is a reminder that, while firsts often feel lonely and unprecedented, they’re deeply embedded in community. Especially for racialized people, a first means taking up a history of intergenerational struggle, embedding ourselves in traditions of resurgence and resilience. By publishing a collection of firsts from many different contributors, we remind ourselves that our firsts are only lonely insofar as we fail to share them with others.

Throughout the months of May and June, we’ll be releasing over a dozen new pieces of content, spanning poems, interviews, photographs, short stories, and comics. There are firsts that are also homecomings: meditations on a plane ride to the Philippines, or learning about our parents’ history as refugees. There are firsts that are inaugurations of love: femme friendships and sharing our queerness with our parents for the first time. There are firsts that reframe old territory: learning to see our skin in new light, or yelling back at racist slurs for the first time.

This issue was assembled by re:asian’s editorial team, who are currently working and living on unceded and occupied Indigenous territory. This land – what we call New York City, Montreal, and Vancouver – belongs to the Lenni-Lenape, Skxwú7mesh (Squamish), Tsleil-Waututh, Xwméthkwyiem (Musqueam), and Kanien’kehá:ka peoples, respectively. It’s necessary to remember that our firsts are often only possible because of the stolen land we live on.

This issue is a revelation for us, the editors of re:asian, as much as it is a celebration of the firsts of our contributors. We’d like to thank each of our contributors, who gave so much of themselves to this issue.

—the editors of re:asian

To learn more about re:asian, read our mission statement here

Illustration by Chantelle Schultz