I consider myself a professional Asian American, which means that I work in the “community.” There are positives and negatives that come with being a professional Asian American. The biggest negative is that people tend to rant at me about the state of Asian America and the worst part is they want me to agree with them. Well, I’m sick of being ranted at. It’s my turn to rant. This is my rant on Asian America right now:
- If I hear of another person tell me that Asian American film festivals are not needed anymore, I’m going to scream. It is not a coincidence that there are more APIA filmmakers now than there were before these festivals existed. As a filmmaker myself, I give credit to Visual Communications (the people behind the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival) for giving me an avenue to hone my craft and grow as an artist. These festivals were one of the first people to believe in my writing and my films. Do I want to screen my films outside of these festivals? Of course. But that doesn’t mean I can/should forget their importance in my career and the API filmmaking community at large.
- This goes for Asian American studies too. I’m sick of hearing people tell me that Asian American studies doesn’t need to exist anymore. Like the Asian American film festivals the people who say this forget history. Before Asian American studies programs there were no books on Asian Americans. In other words, there was no history for Asian Americans. Am I saying Asian American studies is perfect? No. Asian American studies will probably need to take a more internationalist approach in the future but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in studying/learning/researching Asian American history, culture, et. al.
- This has less to do with Asian Americans per se, but I keep hearing people say that as a society we are too politically correct now. I’m sorry, I fail to see why this is a bad thing. To me, being politically correct is just being polite. I want to control how I’m being referred to. What’s wrong with me not wanting to be called: Jap, oriental, etc? Respect me enough to refer to me as I want to be referred to and I’ll do the same. That’s just polite society. All these people who want to go back to a time when they didn’t have to worry about political correctness are really just saying they want to go back to a time when they describe people in any way they wanted – even if they used hate words.
- Finally, those Asian Americans that say race doesn’t matter anymore bothers me the most. Race does matter. Do I want people to be judged by their merit? Of course. But that’s just not the country we live in. Let’s be real here. Race plays a major factor in things like education, health, social economic outcomes, whether you can get a loan from a bank, get a job interview, criminal sentencing, etc. As an Asian American, sometimes it’s just not as oblivious as it is for other people of color. But they are still there. They are just more subtle. For example, if it was all about merit, wouldn’t it mean that there should be more Asian American politicians, CEOs, and people in positions of leadership in California? Especially when you consider about half the students graduating from the University of California system are Asian/Asian American?
Follow me on Twitter @ksakai1