Following this year's SAG Awards, publications rushed to put out photos from the red carpet and the after party. In the midst of all the SAG Award coverage, People Magazine made the unfortunate mistake of misidentifying actors in a photo of the cast of "Crazy Rich Asians." Actor Ronny Chieng was quick to call out People on Twitter, noting that he was mistaken for Randall Park, Tan Kheng Hua was identified as Michelle Yeoh, and Jae W Suh was not in the photo at all. Following the initial backlash against People Magazine, Vogue was later revealed to have misidentified Gemma Chan as Liv Lo and Tan Kheng Hua as Michelle Yeoh.
To see this happen not once, but twice with Asian actors at the same event is very disheartening. It's not that difficult to actually try and differentiate between Asian people. In fact, I find it harder to find a way to make Liv Lo and Gemma Chan look alike, not to mention Randall Park and Jae W Suh weren't even in "Crazy Rich Asians" and shouldn't be in the cast photo anyway.
When it comes to people of color, it seems that there's less effort put into differentiating between individuals, even those who look nothing alike. This is especially common with East Asians, and this can't be the case anymore. When these instances of misidentification are so common, it becomes more than just an innocent mistake. To make the excuse that "all Asians look the same" is to admit that all you see when you look at us is our race. It means that you're too lazy to really look and see us as individuals and would prefer to lump all Asians together instead. It is an erasure of Asians and their individual identities, whether done consciously or not.
I don't expect this to be the last instance of misidentification of Asians or people of color in general, but I can only hope that this was a learning experience for those responsible. Moving forward, it's important to make the effort to tell people of color apart. Yes, sometimes people really do look the same, but for the most part, there is much diversity within racial and ethnic groups if you just look past race and see the individual.