I watched Master of None, have not seen The Big Sick and could not get through Hassan Minaj’s new stand up show.
However, I did read this piece on Buzzfeed about brown men coveting white women on screen.
And I’d like to weigh in.
In art, we can go in any direction. Many of us choose first person narrative because frankly, it’s the easiest and most researched and inspired. We are not obligated to tell a different story, to create a world we don’t actually live in or invent interactions that never happened.
Fiction is its own genre.
I take issue with the Buzzfeed article because it’s asking these three men to step out of their reality and craft a better, more P (o) C version of their experience. And why?
I’m all for telling a broad range of stories and support the notion of not only punching up with jokes, but for using your opportunities to teach a bigger lesson.
But again, POC should also be allowed to just tell their stories, even if that means admitting we were raised to believe white was the ultimate race, white is the goal, white is better.
We believe this because for us, it was true. The oppressed minority wishes it could be the majority. The oppressed minority wants to blend in, be accepted. The oppressed minority does not feel emboldened to ask for equality, especially when we are children, learning about the world as we walk through it surrounded in a sea of white.
The first time someone points out that you are different, it can be devastating. When it’s something you can’t change, like the texture of your hair, the shape of your eyes, the tone of your skin, you internalize this, you hate yourself for it. Ultimately, you wish you “looked like everyone else.”
Everyone else in many places in this country is White.
So if I’m telling my story, if it’s going to make it into a book or on the screen, if I’m given the space to share, then no, I will not be talking about how I ended up with the only other brown kid in class. I will not be talking about how the POC at my high school ended up on top. I will not talk about how I learned to accept my otherness at the age of twelve or sixteen or even twenty-one.
I will say that I moved to Chicago to experience my diversity. I will say that I purposely befriended other Asian Americans because that was important to me. I will say that I dated non-White dudes for the first time because I met some that I actually connected with.
There is a way to show how shitty things are and the changes we, as POC, have to make in order to break out of these scenarios. It takes time. I’m in need of a lesson in wokeness just like the next person.
I get the argument in this piece that suggests the WOC of the story are often props, dehumanized further for not being the one that was desired. But for me, that isn’t a stretch. I was the sidekick, the unknown, the less than, and while I don’t want these sentiments to be reinforced, I can relate to them.
Whiteness was something I desired without knowing it. It’s why I wore violet contacts, dyed my hair and crushed on all of the white jocks in school.
I’m here for those stories because that was my truth.