The first issue of Gidra was published in 1969 by a group of 5 Asian American students at UCLA who each pitched in $100 of their own money.
Gidra began just one year after the term “Asian-American” was coined by Yuji Ichioka, historian and UCLA professor, to frame a new “inter-ethnic-pan-Asian self-defining political group”. It was better than “Oriental”, which was vague and exoticizing. Yes, we used to be called Oriental like “creamy Oriental sauce” and “Oriental rugs”.
The founders of Gidra and the Asian American political movement were inspired by the Black Panthers and Black student movements of the 1960s. Gidra was initially based at UCLA’s newly formed Asian American Studies Department, it eventually moved off campus to the Crenshaw district. Several hundred people contributed during its 5 year run. They included founders of Asian American studies departments and contributed to the first textbooks. Many worked as union organizers and social justice attorneys. Others worked on successfully getting reparations for Japanese Americans who were interned in concentration camps during WWII.
The Crenshaw District and Leimert Park have historical and contemporary importance for Japanese Americans.
“Gidra newspaper was headquartered at Jefferson and Tenth Avenue. Yoshimura was a fixture within the collective that published the underground publication, which served as a forum for the movement developing both locally and nationally. To this day, Gidra’s articles on racism, the Vietnam War, and Asian American activism are regularly assigned as core texts in Asian American Studies.”
The Return of Gidra was ignited on May 6, 2019 when a group of multigenerational and economically diverse Asian American and Mixed Asian American activists and students from UCLA and USC met at Revolutionario North African Tacos on Jefferson Blvd, 1.5 miles away from Gidra’s grown up headquarters. The head agitator is Susan Park, aka “Mama Park” and “The Smoking Korean”. Taiji Miyagawa of Progressive Asian Progressive Asian Network for Action; David Monkawa (one of the contributors to Gidra 1.0), Dat Dang of Viet Unity, and Lynn Wang (environmental scientist and Sunrise movement leader) were among many in attendance. Our first monthly issue of “The Return of Gidra” will be published in December 2019 with the theme “50th Anniversary of Gidra and 50 Years of Asian America”.
Blasian Narratives started as a college documentary theatre troupe at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, then grew to include students from other colleges such as Barnard and UCLA. Members travel to college campuses to speak and serve on panel discussions. They have been invited to Columbia, Stanford, Harvard, UPenn, Purdue, Occidental, UCLA, and UCI.
Issue I: 50 Years of Asian America
Issue II: Solidarity (Guest contributors, especially PoC active in diverse solidarity organizations)
Issue III: Asian Beauty and Gender (Many Asian cultures have more fluid ideas of gender and sometimes revere third, trans, or fluid gendered people)
Issue IV: Blackness (It is very common for Asian Americans to be interested in a range of Black arts, activism, and letters. Black Americans are the second largest producers of media in America. As such, many of us are drawn to Black talent initially because it’s our first non-White option. This issue will largely consist of personal essays. We will have contributors of mixed black and Asian heritage.
Issue V: Los Angeles Chinatown, Gentrification, Displacement, and Asians Invisibilized by The Model Minority Myth
Issue VI: Cambodia and Cambodian Americans
Issue VII: What We Love About Being Asian
Issue VIII: Laotian Americans and Laos, The Most Bombed Country in The World
Issue IX: Little Bangladesh in Koreatown