My Real Position on Diversity and Racism

After looking at my last few tweets and status updates, I’ve discovered that I’ve been a little cryptic about my real position regarding racism and diversity for the sake of being humorous. I feel to continue this discussion in a real way, I should make a statement and share my real feelings about race and diversity.

Let me start by saying I’m an Asian-American. Like that’s a surprise. Both my mother came to the United States at the age of 10 just after WWII ending. My father was born in San Francisco. His father came to the United States around the time of the earthquake. Both my grandparents came to the U.S. so that their children could have better lives. The vast majority of my aunts and uncles, ten in total, graduated from college. My father was an Aeronautical Engineer and worked for Rockwell on the space program that put an American on the moon, and my mother was an early computer programmer and knows more about computers than I do. My brothers have college degrees, and most of my cousins also have college degrees.

I write this to say that for my family being a minority in the United States was not easy, but somehow we made it. We survived and somehow flourished in what some of my peers call “The most racist country in the world.” In my old age, I still would rather live in “the most racist country in the world,” than anywhere else. I’ve also come to believe so would everyone else, even the worst of victims of white racism.

That said, let’s dive headfirst into the subject of diversity. My official statement is this. I probably would be more behind the whole diversity movement if the movement embraced Asians and Latinos. At the moment, Diversity is meant for the groups that yell the loudest. As of 2016, the loudest groups are African-Americans and the LGBTQ communities. In my mind, this is not a problem, but a sad reality of human nature. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I’ve been told that Asians need to support African Americans because once they have equality, when we’re next in line after the Latinos. So basically, we’re going to solve racism one race at a time. I don’t buy that.
We may be different racially and culturally, but we’re all still human beings. The sad truth is that we’re all selfish by nature, and when we gather as blacks, Latinos, and Asians, we’re downright narcissistic. Human truth: my group’s demands are to be met before yours.

We may be different racially and culturally, but we’re all still human beings. The sad truth is that we’re all selfish by nature, and when we gather as blacks, Latinos, and Asians, we’re downright narcissistic. Human truth: my group’s demands are to be met before yours.

I know American history. I’m not blind to the atrocities of slavery. I’m not blind to the violence leading up to the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s. At the same time, my ancestors didn’t own slaves, nor were we enslaved. As an Asian, I feel like an outsider to the America’s conflict between white and black. I am now relegated to a mere observer in the conflict. As an observer, to my Caucasian and African-American friends, you all are screwed. There will be no winners in this fight, and you’ll kill each other to ensure, you’re not the loser. Sadly, you are actually doing this. More thought about this in the future.

Let’s get back to diversity. As my African-American friends felt frustrated that no black actors had been nominated for a second year in a row, I wish to convey my frustration that only one Asian actor has won an Academy Award in acting. That was Haing S. Ngor in 1985 for the Killing Fields. He was Best Supporting Actor. As happy as I was for him, the guy wasn’t even American. That’s like Javier Bardem’s Oscar was a victory for Latino Americans. It’s as if Bardem’s win was a victory for latinos, and he isn’t even latino, he’s hispanic. We’re a little frustrated too. There is a level of frustration that occurs when there are thousands of Asian and Latino actors and the actors that win were imported from outside the United States.

Why aren’t there more Asians with leading roles, hell any role, in Hollywood? If I were to be truly honest, we just not that good…yet. Hold on, before you brand me as a self-loathing Asian. In all honesty, I can’t think of the Asian George Clooney or the Asian Matt Damon. What about the Asian Meryl Streep? She doesn’t exist…yet. Is it a cultural issue? I’d say “yes” on both sides.

When Asians came to America, our parents encouraged us to get into careers that made a lot of money so that we would be financially stable. We should become doctors, engineers and bankers. Any thought of becoming actors and artists were literally beaten out of us as children. So yes, culturally we just don’t have a lot of good Asian actors.

White American culture has also held us back and not because they are overtly racist. HUMAN TRUTH: It’s sad but true, with every culture and race in the world, we are most comfortable being around people who are the most like us starting with race. We tend to root and support people who are the same race as us. I support Asian actors in Hollywood, but I support the Chinese ones more. As an American, I would rather see an American succeed over a Canadian. The only way to end racism is to end culture and become one homogenous group. You know you would hate to live in that world.

White people would rather watch movies starting white people, just as black people watch movies starring black people. Is that racist? No. White people don’t hate black movies and vice versa. It’s what we as individuals prefer. I love movies and 99% of movies star non-Asians. I don’t shrug my shoulders and put up with it. White or black, just tell me a good story and I’ll watch your damn movie. Sure, I’ll sees an Asian movie in support of my movie.

Last year, I attended the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. By the title, you can guess what kind of movies are shown there. This is the best showcase of films produced by not only Asians but Asian-Americans. It served as the barometer of how far Asians have come in Hollywood. I walked away feeling, we’re not there yet, but we’re on our way. Of the movies, I saw only two stood out as potential mainstream successes. The first was “Twinsters” (now on Netflix), a documentary of an adopted Korean actress, who in her twenties, discovers she has a twin sister she never knew existed. The other was “Miss India America,” a comedy about the “Miss India” beauty pageant. It was genuinely funny with great jokes and told a non-typical story surrounding the adventure of a strong Indian woman. I had high hopes for the Wong Fu film, “Everything Before Us.” This should have been a breakout hit. They had production values of a typical Hollywood Rom-Com movie, but the story and acting had few fatal flaws that could have been easily fixed. This is not to put down the Wong Fu film, but just a statement that a few noticeable changes could have made this a significantly better film. Again, we’re on our way, but not there yet.

Let me conclude by saying this. The fact is the United States is a predominantly white country. That’s a fact, and this predominantly white country produces predominantly white movies. I may be a little naive, but I believe excellence in the things we do and produce is our only trump card to problems of the lack of diversity. For people of color, including myself, opportunities are opening up right now for black, Hispanic and Asian actors and filmmakers. It’s time for us minorities to seize the opportunities and up our game and become better actors and filmmakers. Strive for excellence because the door is closing and we have the opportunity to make sure that door stays open for a long time.