Here I am.
Writing about race.
This time the subject matter is, Asian American representation in media. I’ll try to keep this one short. Why does it matter whether or not there are more or less Asian Americans in mainstream media? Isn’t that a subjective opinion?
No and no.
Imagine growing up and constantly being told explicitly and implicitly by your teachers, friends, influencers, media, advertisements, and communities that your concerns are not important enough to talk about at this time, that there are bigger fish to fry. Although the school system doesn’t necessarily do a great job of supporting identity formation overall, how my communities failed to acknowledge let alone address my concerns communicated a lot to me about how it viewed my worth.
Dismissal feels an awful lot like antagonizing your processing of identity, as if in voicing your earnest questions you are taking valuable resources away from addressing other concerns. I am not minimizing world hunger, aids, homelessness, racism targeted at black people or other races, gun violence, mental health, rape culture, among many other important issues —but the thing is to dismiss Asian American issues is to dismiss Asian Americans.
I care about many issues, I do not only come behind causes that represent my experience and my people but to dismiss my experience, concerns, and identity is to dismiss me. If you dismiss me at the very foundation of who I am how then are we supposed to meaningfully work together on other tasks? While collaboration and team work is still possible we will both do our best work if we are working out of respect for one another.
As an adult I make it a point to call out the concept of “intersectionality” in my conversations, that all of these issues exist at once and they are in fact very closely intertwined. To talk education ones must talk about mental health, even acknowledging classism and racism. If we truly seek meaningful change in any arena of concern then we do not get to choose which conversations we show up to.
In this instance I am talking about Asian American representation in media and I have a lot to say, but there will be other conversations where my participation looks more like listening and asking questions such as the conversation of addressing the anti-blackness that is often common in the Asian community.
Right now as a college student I am heavily involved in Boston Universities’ Asian Student Union, it’s actually the only year in college I was heavily involved. In the past I spent my time with my college’s student government, working with the Dean of Students, Student Activities Office, and with BU’s Fashion Community. I share my involvement to illustrate that my request, that people would engage in conversation about race, does not come from being a single-issue- person. Instead, I think that these conversations are ones everyone needs to be having.
I realize though that foundation of my frustration comes from an underlying belief that we as individuals are responsible for one another and one another’s well-being. Based off this belief I hold it to be of high importance to include as many people and perspectives in conversations and decision making. Not everyone operates out of this system of beliefs.
The ability to come along side someone, however, and enter into a conversation that seemingly does not affect you speaks of strong character and being in touch with your humanity.
Our world is as big as we choose to make it, what will you allow your world to be?