This is a topic that’s been swirling round my head that’s never been properly anchored down to a page. Part of me thinks that I might be the only person who thinks this. But I also know that there are seven billion people (and counting) in this world, so I’m probably not on my own. I’ll sum it up in one sentence to start us off:
I relate more to the term ‘brown’ than I do ‘Asian’.
Make no mistake, I am both brown and Asian (South East Asian peeps, where you at?). I am incredibly proud of who I am—of my ethnicity, my background, and everything else in between. But sometimes there comes a time where I’ll see people that are meant to represent me and others like me, but no matter how hard I try, I just cannot relate. So I’ll sit down and speculate over these things and wonder why they’re so.
I do have some theories as to why I think of myself this way, the topmost one being that it’s merely a result of living in a whitewashed world. I’ve been exposed to it so much that I can’t help but think in such a whitewashed way. There is no denying that, despite being the biggest group of people that makes up the world population, Asians are severely underrepresented in Western media (I say Western because it’s the most widespread). And when they do show up, what we’ll see will most likely be East Asians—in other words, ‘Asian’ Asian. The kind of Asian that immediately comes to mind whenever the word is heard. The kind of Asian I’m not—and find difficulty connecting with.
But when I hear ‘brown’, nothing in particular comes to mind. Brown is an umbrella term to me, and therefore cannot be tied down to anything quite as ‘specific’ as ‘Asian’.
Maybe I’m being weird, but hear me out.
Stereotypes also come into play with this, be it when it comes to Hollywood movies or even just people’s thoughts and words in daily life. People love labelling Asians as the ‘model minority’. I am currently living in a town—and country—where the majority of the population is white. The most common thing I’ve heard anyone say goes along the line of ‘we’re the more hardworking, intelligent, talented, etc. race of the bunch, therefore we have a higher rate of success than any other.’ Some have told me this in a joking manner while others less so. Personally, I don’t see myself as such (again, not a testament to my self-worth and confidence) and I’ve also thick enough of a skin to not be affected by this as much as I used to anymore. But that’s besides the point. They’re stereotypes all the same, and therefore will have damaging effects no matter how you say it. In fact, you don’t even have to say anything at all. Your behaviour and reactions to said stereotypes say a lot more than your words ever will. And while I won’t sit you down and run through all—if not most—of these attributes (because, frankly, we’ll be here forever. However, if you do want to read up on it, I’ll say that this is a good article to start with), I will say this:
Maybe I haven’t been looking hard enough for representation. But in this day and age, no one should really really be doing that. Representation should encompass everyone, not just specific people who fulfil a diversity quota. Frankly, it’s insulting that we still have to fight this much to see ourselves in the mainstream media and it needs to be changed ASAP.
If you’ve made it this far into my post, then thank you for reading. This is something that’s been on my mind for a really long time and I’ve only had the time to properly put it into words. Let me know what you think in the comments and I’ll see you in my next post.
Until next time,