Hi everyone! For today’s post, I wanted to talk about something I’ve been meaning to for some time. I think the headline of the post says it all but I’ll reiterate: Asian Americans — Representation in the Media.
This topic has long been something lingering at the back of my mind. It resurfaces every time I watch a movie or TV show or read a book with an Asian or Asian American character. Reading more #ownvoices posts on blogs I enjoy, and finding diverse book recommendations has also led me to talk about this topic with you today.
Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I am not accusing anyone of anything. I’m just a tween — I’m aware that there’s a lot I don’t know, and I’m not trying to assume anything. I also absolutely do not want to offend anyone. I’m a little nervous about putting this post out, but I feel it’s the right thing to do as my responsibility as an Asian American blogger.
So let’s get into it!
Having a representation in the media is important. But not as important as a realistic representation. The opposite of a realistic representation can lead to a stereotype.
What is a stereotype? Good question. The definition is: a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
The stereotype of an Asian American is something we’re all familiar with :
Glasses. Clutches books a lot. Very concerned about grades. Encouraged to be more social.
Some media try to combat this stereotype, and instead come up with a character who looks something like this :
Takes school more lightly. Active on social media. Friendly (sometimes) and popular.
But I think that this in turn becomes its own stereotype.
Which one is right?
Well, there’s no wrong or right way to be Asian American. But as a minority group, it seems that we are sometimes oversimplified in the media, and cut down to just one or two stereotypical traits. Collectively, we are all assumed to be the same.
But we are so much more than that.
We have faces and voices. We deserve to be seen and heard for who we, as individuals, are. We should not be confined to an image of emotionless, straight-A machines.
It’s not enough to be represented. Asian Americans deserve to be realistically represented.
Behind our actions, who stops and considers what our drive is? If we score 100% on the math final exam, what will the reaction be? Will it be ‘Oh, of course they got 100%, they study all day for no reason,’ or ‘Wow, their determination and hard work really paid off!’?
Unfortunately, I think the former is the more voiced reaction.
Asian Americans are known for being worked up about their grades. Which is understandable. Education is important. But personally, my focus isn’t only on the grade. It’s on actually learning.
I get a thrill when I learn about hyperbolas or learn what a cosine graph looks like. I’m deeply intrigued when I read about centrifugal force. I want to experiment with unreliable narrators in my writing. I marvel at the intricacies of the government system in China during such an olden time as the 7th century.
Is this the behavior of a straight-A machine? I think not.
Having ourselves realistically represented isn’t as easy as it seems. Our hard work is sometimes ignored, even criticized for lack of actual passion. Which is, honestly, ridiculous.
Is seeing ourselves appreciated so much to ask for?
Imagine emotions as colors of a painting. If all Asian Americans were represented in that painting realistically, there’d be shades of all sorts of colors. When presented to viewers who are not Asian American, what will they say? I hope it can be implied that each one of us has a variety of different feelings, thoughts, and experiences, and they have already manifested into our own stories…stories that we need to share and want to share.
Please allow our voices to be heard. Please don’t put us under a huge black umbrella — put us under our own individual colorful umbrellas.
I hope that in the near future, Asian Americans and other minorities can be recognized more in the media for who we are — not what others have labeled us to be.
Thank you for reading this post — you have my sincere gratitude.
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