From Virtual to IRL at the V3 Asian American and Pacific Islander Digital Media Conference

The “Social Media for Social Change” panel at Banana 2 in 2011, featuring (from left), Fatameh Fakhraie of Muslimah Media Watch, Frances Kai-Hwa Wang of Adventures in Multicultural Living, Jehanzeb Dar of Muslim Reverie, Marissa Lee of Racebending, Cynthia Liu of K12-NN, and moderator Keith Kamisugi of KeithPR. | Photograph courtesy of Gil Asakawa

After the first incarnation of V3con, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) digital media conference formerly known as Banana, my whole life changed. And I was not even there.

I learned about the Banana 1 conference the week after it occurred through my Asian American Village colleague Gil Asakawa’s posts recounting the incredible people he met, the amazing community that came together, the great fun they had. I was so sorry to have missed it, and I started following everyone Gil mentioned.

Then Jeff Yang asked to friend me on Facebook, and I was soon invited into the virtual inner circle of our AAPI digital media community. There I found a safe space and invigorating energy where we could spread news, work through ideas, share our writing, and tell jokes with others who knew the same history, experience, and concerns. My writing began to take off.

I was invited to speak at Banana 2 about social media for social justice, and I was thrilled to meet irl (in real life) so many people that I previously knew only virtually. It was funny realizing they had real names, not just urls. I remember JozJozJoz Wang’s warm hug when we met for the first time, and her comment that of course we are old friends. Gil Asakawa looked exactly like the photo I had seen for years. Lac Su and all his cousins were the epitome of cool. RiceDaddy Jason Sperber figured out that I had once quoted him in one of my articles. Went amok with Emil Guillermo over a big bowl of ramens in Little Tokyo.

And nothing beats having AngryAsianMan publicly proclaiming via live-tweet, “I have a crush on Frances Kai-Hwa Wang.”

Now, after months of me pestering the amazing JozJozJoz Wang, “WHEN is it going to be?!!”, here comes the new and improved V3 Digital Media Conference, on August 24-25, 2012 in Los Angeles, which goes way beyond the original scope of the Banana APA Bloggers Conferences to include all forms of digital media, including blogging, social media, YouTube/music/videos, and the Asian American Journalists Association too. With themes of vision, visibility, voice, we are moving from virtual isolation into real world community, on multiple digital platforms. Think leadership. Think future. Think change.

I am especially excited about the two opening plenary sessions. This is our time, together as a community, to examine where we are and where we are headed.
The first plenary session is “Asian Spotting in the Traditional Media,” moderated by David Ono of ABC7, and with Lynn Chen of The Actor’s Diet*, Richard Lui of MSNBC, Jocelyn “Joz” Wang of 8Asians, Jeff Yang of The Wall Street Journal. Check out their bios, but trust me, there is no one better than these folks. Are you tired of continued racebending, white-washing, yellow/brown face, stereotyped portrayals, and missing Asians in the mainstream media? They will look at how Asians and Asian Americans are beginning to be cast in more prominent roles on more shows and movies and commercials, but are still invisible in mainstream news media, or hooked to Model Minority or gang-related stories. What does the future look like for AAPIs in mainstream media?

The second plenary is “Lights, Camera, Action: Asian Americans are naturals on YouTube,” moderated by Frank Buckley of KTLA5, and featuring David Choi of DavidChoiMusic, Clara Chung of ClaraCMusic, and Stephen Dypiangco of NationalFilmSociety. Read their bios, but check out their videos if you really want to see how amazingly talented they are. AAPIs are known to have an incredible web and social media presence, but AAPIs totally rule on YouTube. They will look at why video has been such a natural platform for AAPIs in spite of (supposed) traditional cultural values about not bringing attention to oneself.

I love writing about AAPI issues for the AAPI community because we do not have to stop and explain every last detail, but we can discuss issues at a much higher level and actually move forward. I am able to thrive within the community of AAPI writers, bloggers, activists, artists, and friends that I have found here. They are my safe place to fall. They are my wealth of resources and connections. They are the people who understand what it means to dream in html, who defend me from trolls, and who get my jokes. With this community behind me, I am able to be a much more effective writer and advocate for the wider AAPI community.

The other night, my daughter crawled into my bed in the middle of the night. Completely asleep, I apparently shouted out, “Go away, Stalker!” and “Did you come out of the computer?” Clearly, I have been doing a little too much social media lately. It is time to go to V3con and recharge.

For more information about the V3 Digital Media Conference presented by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), in partnership with IW Group, Inc., and the team which organized the “Banana Conferences” in 2009 and 2011, go to

*Lynn Chen of Actor’s Diet unfortunately will not be able to attend due to a death in the family.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Michigan and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is a contributor for New America Media Ethnoblog,,, and She team-teaches Asian Pacific American History and the Law at the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Dearborn. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her Web site at, her blogs at and, and she can be reached at


  • frances

    August 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Since this is a digital media conference, if you cannot make it in person, it will be livestreamed at and you can also follow the twitter feed @v3con


    August 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    For immediate release
    For more information, please contact Moon Khan at 630-479-8729 or email him at


    Lombard: Tired of hearing the harangues of Congressman Joe Walsh, a Republican candidate of the 8th congressional district, Muslims of DuPage County has invited him to a meeting on Friday, August 24, 2012 at 6:30 P.M. at 562 S. Stewart Avenue in Lombard.

    “The purpose of the meeting is to showcase the diversity of the Muslims that the Congressman is certainly unfamiliar with,” said Moon Khan, one of the organizers and a well-known hardcore Republican. “Muslims are trying to gather stones that have been thrown at them by the congressman and turn them into milestones of tolerance in the true spirit of Mahatma Gandhi.”

    WHEN: FRIDAY, August 24, 2012, AT 6:30 PM

    For more information about the event, please contact Moon Khan at 630-479-8729 or email him at