On Chicago's Archer Avenue lies two of the city's most historic neighborhoods: Bridgeport and Chinatown, where my Irish and Chinese ancestors first settled, respectively. If you know anything about me, I am most certainly proud of my Irish heritage and its legacy that gives Chicago its greatness. But while I will always be proud to be an Irish-American, it's still just as important to me that I am also a person of color as a Chinese-American as well.
Growing up in a predominantly white community most of my life, it was easy to have my Asian identity suppressed for most of my life. In a culture that promotes assimilation over multiculturalism, it was safe to say that I slowly progressed into what the Asian-American community calls a banana, "yellow on the outside, white on the inside." On top of the this, there was only one regularly seen Asian personality in media, and that was only a local news anchor, several hours for 5 days.
Then comes this beautiful masterpiece, "Crazy Rich Asians," which is the first Hollywood film in 25 years to have a predominantly Asian cast since the film, "The Joy Luck Club."
The film follows Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) who travels to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to meet Nick's "crazy rich" family, more specifically his intimidating mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh). Regardless of whether or not you're Asian, "Crazy Rich Asians" is a heartwarming film that has a robust mix of comedy and romantic/dramatic value that anyone can enjoy, from Rachel's happy-go-lucky best friend Peik (Awkwafina) to Nick's Parisian-chic cousin Astrid (Gemma Chan).
But ultimately, "Crazy Rich Asians" is more than just another rom-com. It's the beginning of a movement, one that is a rallying cry for Hollywood to recognize the talent of Asian actors and put an end to the ugly tradition of whitewashing in film.
Moreover, "Crazy Rich Asians" is also a tipping point for addressing and ending toxic behaviors that portray Asians in a negative light. Asian people are a beatiful people with a vibrant culture that deserves your respect. We are not your gross fetish, your tokenized assimilated friend, your international classmate you can mock for having broken English, and most certainly NOT the butt of your sick jokes about food, anime, nail tech, or anything else related to Asian culture. We are a people that is just as competent to be the heroes of our own stories, as Constance Wu has brilliantly said.
The Asian immigrant story, just like other people of color, is one filled with blood, sweat, and tears. Though "Crazy Rich Asians" doesn't tell this story, it is a story that grants the sweet feeling of being recognized by the Asian-American community, including this author. As I've written in an earlier piece, 2018 has a groundbreaking year for representation in film and beyond. Let's keep the ball rolling with "Crazy Rich Asians".