Cultural Representation Is Important

Cultural Representation Is Important

Here's to my stinky lunches, 3 New Years, and being a year older on the other side of the world.

When I was younger, my very Thai mom used to send me off to school with a very ethnic lunch. It wasn’t the school’s Mexican pizza or a homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwich every elementary schooler had growing up; It was jasmine rice, fried eggs, and scrambled basil stir-fry (Pa Ka Pao).

I became an easy target and kids were cruel. They made fun of me because my lunch didn’t look like theirs.

They would tell me it smelled and the look of it made them want to vomit. I’ll never forget going home, crying to my mom, and begging her to let me buy Lunchables simply just to avoid the comments and the hell that awaited me every day during lunch. Even though their comments were nothing more than just comments, kindergarten I was hurt and lost myself a little that day. I mean, I was just being me? Yet, I was outcasted for it.

For a while, I’d try to understand it but it simply came down to this: representation. Growing up, the only hero or role model I had was Mulan. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Mulan. She looked just like me, saved China, and proved women can do anything a man could do, and better. But the lack of Asian-American portrayals in media at the time that wasn’t stereotypical or represented poorly seemed like a small percentage.

Not to mention the roles that were white-washed as well.

With that being said, to presently see a show like “Fresh Off The Boat” on t.v. warms my heart and genuinely makes me happy to see a show that I resonate with on a personal level and the progress we have made. During the first episode, the main character, Eddie, gets invited to sit at the lunch tables with what appears to be are the cool kids. They’re treating him as if they were one of them until Eddie opens his lunch.

The kids then point out the potent smell and tell him to leave the table immediately all while making fun of him. He then goes home and asks his mother if they can go out and get Lunchables. To think, someone out there went through the same struggles as me growing up was comforting. There was actually a show out there that was completely relatable while growing up as an Asian-American family.

The fact of the matter––representation matters. The importance of having a role model, not exclusively Asian-American, but of all different kinds of backgrounds is important to showcase for kids. To have someone who looks like you, understand your struggles, and representing that in a positive light is crucial.

To have cultural socialization promotes one’s culture and ethnic pride. Looking back, I was dumb to care about what other people thought about me and my heritage; I was a kid who was being picked on for simply being me and I decided to assimilate with what everyone else was doing. I realize now that they were just ignorant and I'm proud of my stinky lunches.

It's refreshing to see a new era that's beginning to showcase films, t.v. shows, etc. with different backgrounds, cultures, disabilities, or whatever it may be like never before. We're finally taking that opportunity to create these conversations; To learn, understand, and accept people for who they are.

Cover Image Credit: ABC

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All People Should Be Aware Of The Social Injustice Regarding Difference In Skin Color

How having a different skin color means that society looks at you different.


Do you ever sit in class and just kind of look out into the distance, and sooner or later you find yourself not paying attention and then whoops you're on your phone? Well, I did in class (don't tell my mom) but I was scrolling on Twitter and came across this tweet. It read:

"My best friend has to work TWICE as hard as I do to receive the SAME opportunities I get just because of the differences in the color of our skin. That is an issue. And shame on me for not using my voice sooner. Shame on me for not bringing attention to the subject. This isn't for clout this isn't for likes this based of the fact that I'm so PISSED OFF at the way I have seen society treat my best friend. If I call you my brother I will fight this fight with you until I am blue in the face. Don't add to the problem be apart of the solution. Skin is just skin at the end of the day people who look different than me have helped me through some of my toughest times. Open your heart to love and acceptance this is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave… let's try and act like it."

In our society, today, if you truly think that people with a different skin complexion, take a step back and really look at our world today. This guy noticed one of his very best friends, same age, has to work just as hard even harder then he does to obtain the respect and things that he deserves. In one of my classes, we talked about the "public opinion after" blacks and whites see differently.

People of color see the world in a completely different light then white people do. A white parent tells there kid to go have fun and be safe and a person of color parent says the same thing but might add be home before the street lights come on, be home before sundown something like that. I am not saying that white parents might not say that but black kids have to be more cautious about staying out in the dark after certain times. People say that a person of color is less likely to finish high school and if they do they are more likely to drop out of college, and I have heard people say that about their peers.

Now, what gives YOU the right to determine someone else's future other than your own?

The point is that people of color have to be more cautious and work twice as hard as a white person. People are held to a different standard, there is more expected out of them. They have harsher punishments than a white person. A white person can do something far worse than a person of color and the white man gets the slap on the wrist and six months and the person of color gets at least ten years. Or a person of color can do nothing at all and a white person can feel "threatened" and completely kill the person of color and never see time behind bars.

Society needs to change. People need to change and open up their eyes and see what type of world we are living in. Is it really changing or are you just picking and choosing what you want to see?


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