For some time we’ve agreed there’s a crisis of Asian American mental health—we keep pointing to the alarming CDC reports on Asian American suicide and suicidal ideation rates. But nobody agrees on the breadth of the crisis, what contributes to it, or how to deal with it. We’re grasping only some small fraction of Asian American unwellness.
In 2016, with help from a super-successful Kickstarter campaign, AALR published Open in Emergency: A Special Issue on Asian American Mental Health to open up how we see unwellness and care. It sold out in less than a year, and after tons of reprint requests and months and months of saving our pennies, we're finally launching a reprint to come out this fall! With brand-new content (see below)! But we need your help to bring it into the world.
A hybrid book arts project, OiE is an anti-racist, disability justice rethinking of mental health and an arts-based self-care package for our communities--featuring a deck of original Asian American tarot cards, a mock “hacked” DSM: Asian American Edition, a communal tapestry, a “treated” postpartum depression pamphlet, and a stack of daughter-to-mother letters.
We donated OiE copies to numerous community spaces, and we’ve held events all across the country: in the Bay Area with Richmond Area Mental Health Services and Kearny Street Workshop; in New York City with NYU A/P/A Institute and NAPAWF NY; at the Minority Mental Health Awareness Summit; at the Society for Disability Studies Conference; at the Naval Academy, UC Berkeley, Ohio State U, Harvard, Vanderbilt, Princeton, and over a dozen other universities. The issue’s been adopted as a resource by a number of therapists, and it’s been taught in 30 university classrooms and counting, reaching thousands of students--many of whom reported it was life-saving.
Some testimonials from readers and teachers:
It’s really a stunning work of art, of politics, of therapy.
I can not describe the deep feeling of being able to see myself in context and community...to be able to critically place my mental and spiritual struggles into systemic and political contexts.
Please bring back this deck and the contents of the pack! It is sorely needed in many of the communities I am a part of.
I really think this issue saved a life or two in my class.
Students couldn’t believe that someone gave them permission to think this way and to voice these ways of being and living.
I asked myself first: What is the emergency for which I must open this deck? I want to carry these with me at all times, in case ...
OiE’s received coverage from NBC Asian America, the Washington Post, PhDivas, Hyphen, Colorlines, Ideas on Fire, the Biddy Tarot Podcast, Little Red Tarot, Doll Hospital, Catapult, The Tempest, and Contra*. It’s been displayed at the Center for Book Arts, Yale Library, U of Arizona Poetry Center, Mt. Holyoke, UC San Diego’s Cross-Cultural Center, and Hartford Art School. The tarot deck inspired a dance film by dancers Amanda Ng Yann Chwen and Maddy Mikami. The Ghost tarot card appears as the cover image for Women’s Studies Quarterly’s spring/summer 2019 special issue on Asian Diasporas. Scholarly work on the collection is starting up now.
AND...we think there’s a lot more work OiE can do out in the world. We've received more requests than we can count to reprint. We have standing commitments to course adopt a reprint from dozens of university instructors. We have a long list of requests for more donations to community spaces without acquisition budgets. The crisis of Asian American mental health is still boiling over.
Our plan is to do a special limited reprint of both the Asian American Tarot Deck and the hacked DSM, and to release digital downloads of the other original pieces. We’ve commissioned a set of 7 new tarot cards (to join the original 23), with art by Matt Huynh, who illustrated our 2018 AALR BOOK of CURSES, including:
- The Ocean, by poet and novelist Ocean Vuong
- The Crip, by disability justice writer Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
- The Suicide, by poet and practitioner Terisa Siagatonu
- The State of Emergency, by scholar and organizer Simi Kang
- The Student, a crowd-sourced card created collectively by undergraduate Asian American students nationwide
- The Village, by Jenne Hsien Patrick
- The Mongrel, by scholar and hair model Jason Oliver Chang
We’ve also commissioned several new entries for our mock DSM, including pieces by:
- writer and former practitioner Kai Cheng Thom
- scholar Mel Y. Chen
- poet and essayist Brandon Shimoda
- poet Sonnet L’Abbé
- scholar and organizer Simi Kang
- poet Yanyi
- scholar Jina B. Kim
AALR is a small, independent arts nonprofit based in the Washington, DC area. We have no endowment, no grant support, and no direct institutional funding--we rely entirely upon private donors, project-based sponsorships, and our subscriber base so that we can publish without fear, without strings attached. Our all-volunteer staff has been working on this mental health project, through a process of what we like to think of as “community curation,” convening numerous public dreaming sessions, since 2014.
So far for the reprint we’ve raised over $2000 in sponsorships, and we’re devoting $8,500 of our organizational operating budget. We have $10,000 to go to cover the cost of artist payments, layout, printing, and distribution, with a higher goal of $15,000 to fund a larger print run and make possible more donations and classroom adoptions. Please help us get there!
If you'd like to support the project but have limited funds, please contact us at email@example.com. Besides identifying spaces of need for distributing the issue, we'd love your help coordinating livetime and web events, and if you're a teacher, we'd love to loop you into our national teaching program, which connects classrooms across the country to teach and learn together about Asian American mental health.
OiE CONTRIBUTORS (1st and 2nd EDITIONS)
Melba Abela • Anida Yoeu Ali • Raven Anand • Ryka Aoki • Asian American students nationwide • Vimi Bajaj • Lydia X.Z. Brown • Long Bui • Anne Canute • Deidre Canute • Wo Chan • Jason Oliver Chang • Yoonmee Chang • Mel Y. Chen • Camille Chew • Sharline Chiang • Learkana Chong • Lia Choudhary • Seo-Young Chu • Jigna Desai • Jennifer Kwon Dobbs • Aileen Duldulao • Tarfia Faizullah • Michi Fu • Aiko Fukuchi • Johanna Hedva • Jennifer Ho • Matt Huynh • Tanwi Nandini Islam • Deepa Iyer • Sine Hwang Jensen • Priya Jha • Simi Kang • Bhanu Kapil • Imneet Kaur • Nina Kaur • Judy Kawamoto • Mary Keovisai • Mehtab Kaur Khalsa • Mimi Khúc & Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis • Susan Kikuchi • David Kyuman Kim • Jina B. Kim • Joy Kogawa • Sonnet L’Abbé • Amy Grace Lam • lê thị diễm thúy • Esther Lee • James Kyung-Jin Lee • Peggy Lee • Sueyeun Juliette Lee • Molly Liu • Patty Liu • Gerald Maa • Rajiv Mohabir • Mai Neng Moua • David Mura • Karen Nagano • Aimee Nezhukumatathil • Konrad Ng • Mimi Thi Nguyen • erin Khuê Ninh • Genevieve Erin O'Brien • Monica Ong • Jenne Hsien Patrick • Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha • Monica Ramos • Paisley Rekdal • Margaret Rhee • Shawna Yang Ryan • Koji Steven Sakai • Matthew Salesses • Shizue Seigel • Sejal Shah • Brandon Shimoda • Chad Shomura • Terisa Siagatonu • Maya Soetoro-Ng • Brandon Som • Soonae • Nok Sophanarit • Sharon Suh • Raymond Tan • Ryann Tanap • Kai Cheng Thom • Tiffany • Emily Wu Truong • Laura Uba • Julie Thi Underhill • Tara Villalba • Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay • Ocean Vuong • Kristina Wong • Cynthia Wu • Audrey Wu Clark • Karen Tei Yamashita • Kit Yan • Yanyi • Kathleen S. Yep • Claire Zhuang
Risks and challenges
If Open in Emergency REPRINT: A Mental Health Project is funded, we plan to finish layout and production by early fall 2019, with distribution by November 2019. Publishing this kind of innovative, formally inventive, social justice-oriented project requires tremendous effort and a lot of resources. But we’ve successfully pulled off this exact project before, in 2016, and AALR has 10 years of publishing experience, a sharp, dedicated team, and a wonderful community of volunteers, supporters, and advocates.
We're confident that we'll be able to follow through on all we've promised. As we build this project and get it into the hands of folks who need it--thank you for your support. Thank you for recognizing Asian American mental health as a crisis that needs a new kind of intervention. We're profoundly grateful for your faith and help.
- (30 days)