But even then, there’s so much more work to be done on the other side.
We got used to being the supporting character, watching from the sidelines as everyone else gets to shine. We were constantly given the bare minimum and expected to be grateful for the mere opportunity to be there. But we have so much more to offer. We were tied down to society’s ignorant idea of us — submissive and silent. Now, I’m ready to speak up.
The truth is, when I was younger, I was laughing along without even realizing how harmful the long-term effect was going to be. It’s why the mean Caucasian boy in the playground would slant his eyes to belittle me. Cut to 2021, and my people are still hearing “You don’t belong here,” and “Go back to your country.” How can we prove that we deserve to be here and that our perspectives are worthy of being told?
Before “Crazy Rich Asians” was released in 2018, the last big studio film with an all-Asian cast was Joy Luck Club in 1993 — a full 25 years prior. Our experiences were never prioritized and always shelved. Our stories weren’t respected as important enough to be shared with the rest of the world.
The way America sees us during a family movie night is how America sees us when we’re walking down the street. We need to be authentically visible, to be appreciated, understood, and seen in the full spectrum of life that we occupy. We need to shift from the stereotypes and derivations that depict Asians on the screen — it could single-handedly bring us closer to a state of love, and away from this current state of hate that has permeated this last year.
This country has had such low expectations for my community, but we’re here to change that. I know that the American dream should, and will, include us. We’re so proud and more unapologetic than ever, and we’re not backing down. Get used to seeing our beautiful Asian faces, because we’re not going anywhere.