Ten years ago, my friend Hoa Pham had a radical idea: she wanted to build a website that would bring together a critical mass of Asian-Australian talent in the arts, literature, poetry, criticism, and culture. She, Tom Cho and Tseen Khoo were the founding members. Hoa invited me to be on the board for a few years and I remember meeting at her dining table surrounded by writers and academics who had worked tirelessly to give Asian-Australians a public voice. It was a humbling experience, to see a burgeoning movement thrive through sheer perseverance and vision.
Current Editor Eleanor Jackson writes:
"This year, Peril Magazine turns 10 years old and in that decade we have seen beautiful, wonderful and terrible changes. Just before our founding in 2006 sectarian violence and mob clashes broke out in Sydney, in what became known as the “Cronulla Riots”. Last year, we watched the rise of Reclaim Australia, rekindling a long-divisive discussion about race and belonging in this country. And so it seems, we are still discussing race in the public sphere, just as we were 10 years ago, unable to shift racism, xenophobia and fear-mongering out of our national debate.
In this same period, we have watched more people from Asian backgrounds in Australia take their place as leaders in their fields, recognised for their contribution to the arts, sports, music, politics and other fields of endeavour. While Lee Lin Chin is shaking up the Logies, Dami Im warms up her pipes to represent Australia at Eurovision. Senator Penny Wong remains vocal inside and outside of parliament on the issues of the day, just as Jason Day tops the world golf rankings, and Dr Tim Soutphommasane continues to spark cultural discussion on a range of human rights and race issues.
Not bad for a country that, between the 1890s and 1950s, held official policies – across all governments and all mainstream political parties – that involved the exclusion of non-European people from immigrating to Australia. We take our name from Yellow Peril, a term coined in the 19th century, to describe the perceived menace of Asian migration to Western countries and colonies, such as Australia."
2016 is a time when Peril is more relevant than ever, and the words of our visionary founder Hoa Pham are just as timely today as they were ten years' ago when she wrote her first editorial:
"We are perilous and take risks but not in the way that the Pauline Hansons of the world think!"*
Check Peril out for yourself here, and even consider contributing:
Peril magazine: Asian Australian Arts and Culture
* Indeed, I can attest to the fearlessness of this magazine. Peril published my original introduction for the book Growing Up Asian in Australia, deemed too heavy/political for high school students (who are already reading Animal Farm, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Hunger Games!).