ANMLY #31 :: Citizenship and its Discontents

When I first set out to curate a selection of writing at the edges of Americanness and belonging, I had thought I would attract more stories about being the children of refugees, or transnational adoptees, or people on the wrong side of a visa. But the essays, poems and creative nonfiction pieces I received were much more about the psychological borders of identity, and the ways in which BIPOC Americans must constantly assert their right to be here, perform their patriotism and gratitude, and push back against those who would yell “go back to where you came from!” 

For some of us, the hostility can be traced back to the aftermath of 9/11. For others, it goes back even further to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the colonization of the American West, or the not-too-distant legacy of slavery. But the last four years in particular have been a relentless assault on the beauty and richness of our multicultural nation of immigrants. Under Trump, communities of color have been constantly harassed, threatened, disenfranchised, and subjected to violence; they have disproportionately suffered and died from COVID due to government indifference and a failed virus response. 

The convergence of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, global recession, environmental catastrophes, and massive social unrest is pushing our society to a breaking point. In the uncertain weeks ahead, we will find out which version of America gets the steering wheel—the one that believes white supremacy is the answer, or the one that recognizes it for the dangerous malignancy it is.

No matter what happens on November 3, 2020, we must continue to fight against the marginalization of BIPOC voices, and for the rights and freedoms of all Americans. I want the stories in this special folio to document our resistance and celebrate the diverse and infinite ways one can be American. We are here; we aren’t going anywhere. This is our home too.

Grace Loh Prasad
October 2020

Grace Loh Prasad was born in Taiwan and raised in New Jersey and Hong Kong before settling in the San Francisco Bay Area. Grace received her MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College and is an alumna of VONA. Her essays have appeared in Longreads, Catapult, Jellyfish Review, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, The Manifest-Station, Barren Magazine, KHÔRA, and elsewhere. Grace is a member of The Writers Grotto and Seventeen Syllables, an Asian Pacific American writers collective. She is currently finishing her memoir entitled The Translator’s Daughter (