Image of Asian family sitting on a bench with text The Farewell

Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell

This month, Equity Task Force member Victoria Fok shares her personal experience of the importance of representation in media, “Growing up as an Asian-American in the Midwest, I was often the only person of color, child of immigrant, or Asian person.   I not only did not see myself, my family’s culture & customs reflected in the communities and people I grew up in, but also not represented in media or popular culture. I was keenly aware, that even though I was born in the U.S, I was often seen as a foreigner- reinforced by the incessant, “where are you from?”, being mistaken as a foreign exchange student, to being led to the ethnic food aisle in a grocery store because the store associate thought I asked for chopsticks when I asked where the Chapstick was.

Until I was 25, there was a not a Hollywood feature film that featured an all-Asian cast until Crazy Rich Asians came out in 2018 and then The Farewell in 2019. For the first time in my life, I saw Asian-American women as leads, centered in their own stories, not just sidekicks or tokens of representations that just propped up the more important White lead. I saw people that looked like me & my family and the complex experience of being not just Asian but Asian-American reflected on the big screen. It was the first time in my life that I felt that my experience really mattered. Kimberly Yam, the editor of Asian Voices at HuffPost summed up the impact pretty perfectly in this series of tweets

While the Asian-American experience is not a monolith and these two films are certainly not a perfect representation, I do think they start to prod at a broader meaning of the American experience and challenges some of our societal biases.  I think key to anti-racist work is recognizing our own implicit biases, and how we can be limited by our own perspectives, life experience and start to build a broader worldview outside of that.   Maybe it starts with watching these movies, but leads to researching and raising more awareness about the recent rise of anti-Asian American hate crimes and harassment, I hope you find these movies as impactful as I did.”

-Victoria Fok