People often like to separate the arts from reality, claiming that what is shown on T.V. and in movies and in music can only have so much of an effect on those watching and listening. However, those people forget that what we watch reflects our society and when that reflection is in fact distorted, it makes those who never see themselves depicted accurately feel more isolated.
Growing up as an Indian American girl, I never really thought that I was different than the kids I went to school with.
However, when I started to become more aware of my race because of others pointing out that the fact that my skin had more melanin in it, I started to feel different. That difference was perpetuated by what I saw on T.V. because there was no one who looked like me. As if that wasn’t bad enough, those who resembled my skin color were displayed in one of two lights: bad people from foreign countries on the news or the punch line of every comedian’s jokes.
This bothers me so much because so often the misconceptions and hate that is thrown around between people of different races, and even those within the same race, are caused by both groups having some sort of misunderstanding about the other group.
People only see brown people as terrorists on the news and therefore their perception of them remains as just that.
While to intellects this stereotyping and generalizing is counterintuitive and ridiculous, so many people fall into the trap of thinking this way and a lot of that has to do with how underrepresented brown people are in the media.
Where are the stories of the Indian people who go to work and come home to take care of their families on T.V.? Where are the love stories involving two brown people? Where are the brown people facing adversity and coming out on the other hand victorious? Where are the stories about Indian people that don’t have anything to do with arranged marriages or religion? Where are the films and shows of Indian people just being normal people?!
As a person of color, I have gotten used to only seeing the world through the white narrative, however, I hope one day the media will showcase stories that reflect the world like it is which is through a variety of lenses. We, as a country, are making progress with films like "Black Panther," however, this progress is slow and conservative.
Representation matters so much and the impact that it can have on our society is great. As Octavia Spencer once said, “Little kids need to be able to turn on the T.V. and see real-world representations of themselves. Who cares if the lead is an Asian male? If this is the best actor for that role, why does the role have to be indicative of a person’s ethnicity?”