In May 2020, Anita Gou – producer of the movies The Farewell and Honey Boy – wrote an op-ed in Teen Vogue on Asian-American representation. The article ends with a quote from Cathy Park Hong:
‘The problem with silence is that it can’t speak up and say why it’s silent. And so silence collects, becomes amplified… and eventually this silence passes over into forgetting’.
The past few months have seen us eradicate the notion of being quiet in regards to the black community. Thousands are protesting, donating money and taking part in online petitions to create equal opportunities for this marginalised community.
But they aren’t the only ones, as Anita so eloquently points out.
Over the past few years, we have seen more and more Asian representation in the media, with this culminating in Parasite’s historic Oscar win this year. Anita notes that her community is ‘trending’ in Hollywood, or at least it was until COVID-19. Since the virus, those of Asian-American descent have faced a surge in racist comments, which, Anita writes, is:
‘a painful reminder that, no matter how many generations or how much we contribute to society, minority groups will always face the threat of discrimination and exclusion’.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I refuse to follow that sentiment. Just like with the black community, I refuse to contribute to this racism.
I want to learn more about my fellow humans, without them feeling like they have to hide their culture from us. Anita bravely talks about how she used to hide her identity when growing up:
‘I found myself starting to hide my language, my food, the manga I read and the TV shows I liked. My mother would be baffled at my newfound passion for Lunchables or PB&J sandwiches for lunch instead of her homemade bento boxes’.
And she did all of this to try and make friends. Maybe if there were more people like her she wouldn’t want to alter herself to ‘fit in. The kids in her class wouldn’t have been ‘afraid’ of her culture, because they would have known it. They would have seen it on their favourite TV shows, movies, books, toys, adverts and more. When someone like you doesn’t exist in popular culture, you’re invisible. Or in other words, unknown. And we all know that we fear the unknown.
We make sense of the world through stories and it’s time that we have an accurate representation of everyone in the world, not just the Hollywood whitewashed, false stereotypical version or no one at all.