What Hollywood Misunderstands About Being Asian American

  1. Being Asian and in particular, for Hollywood, being Asian American is more than just about how you look.
  2. When we say "But that could just as easily be a white person" or "I know that they're white, but they could be Asian," we undermine the Asian experience.
  3. Hollywood misunderstands that growing up as a person of color, anywhere but especially in the United States, is fundamentally different
  4. Looking white. Literally appearing white. changes people's perception of you.
    I know that there are people who have let us say "ethnic blood" but if you appear white, you are a beneficiary of white privilege
  5. If you do not appear white, you will experience racism.
    I say will instead of can, because even growing up in a heavily Asian American community, I experienced racism.
  6. The story lines are different. The dialogue is different.
  7. Growing up Asian American is different
  8. Because you will be treated differently, on the street, by peers, by teachers, bosses, anyone
  9. I grew up in America. I only speak English. And yet over the course of a semester, I was asked by a professor on several occasions whether I was an international student
    He assumed that because I appear Asian and that there are a large number of Chinese international students at my school, that I must be international
  10. Asian Americans suffer different pressures.
  11. If you are white, you never need to worry (unless in very specific race driven scenarios) that the first thing that people will think of you is your race
  12. When in fact simply having the last name 'Lee' and identifying myself as Asian American could have hurt my chances of getting into college
  13. I strongly considered leaving my race off of my college applications, for fear that I could be rejected for being grouped into this 'elite' applicant pool
  14. The pressure also comes from within the household
  15. So often the family structure is different, especially within first and second generation Asian American families
  16. I am 19 years old and each time I come home, I am asked when I will be finding a husband
    Never mind the fact that I'm studying my ass off to get a good job to be able to support myself in the future
  17. Not to mention that {he} must be successful with a good family and a good prospective job and also on top of that Asian
  18. The pressure to do well puts you in competition with each of your family members, each of your parents friends and your parents friends of friends
  19. This dominates dinner table conversation
  20. I knew, growing up, the grades of each of my friends and their friends. I knew who would come in looking haggard and worse for wear the next day if they got anything less than a 93
  21. Do you know why a large percentage of Asian Americans study math? Study science? Become doctors?
  22. Because we are grateful to our parents. This is our show of gratitude. Being successful in something which our parents and grandparents can understand as material success
  23. STEM is widely considered to be more difficult and to excel you must be smarter and work harder.
  24. Often Asian American parents to not express love or pride in verbal ways. They say it in driving to and paying for hagwon and tutors, they say it in the silence after a stellar report card and in making favorite meals
  25. And likewise we do not tell them we love them, though we do. We show them by getting higher degrees and excelling in ways that they expect of us
  26. And yet outside the household, Asian Americans are told they should become more Western
  27. They are caught between the two worlds, one which seems so easy and carefree and the other pressured.
  28. This vision of the perfect factory family causes many Asian American young people to struggle with their cultural background, pretend that it doesn't exist, try to be white
  29. When in actuality their culture and differences should be celebrated and prized, their hard work rewarded.
  30. Hollywood, please understand that it's time to stop pretending like every family on TV could be replaced with an Asian family
    Stop pretending that the only reason it hasn't happened is a lack of actors
  31. The actors are out there if you look. The stories and writers right under your noses.
  32. Visibility is about not just seeing people who look like you but understanding that you are not alone in your experiences and that your experiences, especially those culturally different, matter
  33. The Asian American narrative is different.
  34. Do not diminish my experience to the cookie cutter experience you are willing to put on tv. My culture makes me who I am. And I am proud of that.