An Outsider

17:18 Cyndi 0 Comments

I was reading an article today about how they were almost about to cast Lewis Tan as the leading role of Iron Fist as Danny Rand but ultimately gave the role to the white guy in the show. Here is the article: 

Lewis Tan, is half white and half Asian, an American born in England. In the article they quote him on saying that he understood how it felt to be an outsider both in Asia and in America. I resonated well with that as I understood how it felt and I feel as if being mixed race there were even be more of an identity crisis.

I remember my friend, whose half white and half filipino, telling me that when she's in Australia she's Asian but when she's in the Philipines she's white. It's like she doesn't belong in either places she's part of and can you just imagine how confusing that would've been for her when she was younger?

When I finished reading the article, I scrolled down to read the comments section and one of these comments stood out.

Hey Orange Apple, your comment meant no harm at all, but I feel like I just need to inform you and help you understand what this 'whole outsider thing' is about.

While I can't speak on behalf of mixed race people as I feel as if their experiences would somehow be completely different to mine but I can speak on behalf of my own experiences.

As Lewis has said, there's no more of an outsider than an Asian-American. What he means is that as an Asian who grew up in a Western country - we're told constantly that we don't belong even though we may dress the same, act the same, and speak the same way as our white peers. We simply just don't look the same and so people don't accept us as just a normal citizen of America/Australia/Europe.

We have people telling us to speak English when we speak our mother tongue and when we do speak English we have people telling us that our English is really good and asking us where we're really from.

When Lewis mentions that we feel like outsiders when we're at home. I can bring up a story my friend, who is Asian but has only ever lived in Australia and hasn't been to her mother country before. She told me she felt disconnected to her grandparents because she can't communicate with them as they don't understand English. She feels disconnected with other Asians because she can't relate. She doesn't even like Pho. Yet constantly, again and again, she has people asking her where she's from and they don't believe her when she says the honest truth that she's from Australia.

My experiences are a bit similar when I go back to Hong Kong to visit my extended family. I can't communicate with them. There's just a big cultural difference in how we live our lives. They see me and start talking Cantonese with me but I can't piece the words together as eloquently as I would like and I end up sounding like a 5 year old child. They way we do things over there are different and even my FOB friends call me the ABC of the group and list out the ways in which I do things differently.

There's just no winning for us and I don't see this kind of thing changing anytime soon. The other way in which I see a slight change is when people point these things out and educate people on what it means to be considered an outsider.

A lot of controversy surrounded Ghost in the Shell also and a lot of the arguments they used was that it was a film for Americans so of course they would use American actors and actresses. When people use this argument, it irritates me so much because this is another way in which people see other non-white Americans as outsiders. They're not Americans - is what they're simply saying. They can't cast an Asian-American actress as Motoko Kusanagi - it's either got to be a white American actress or a Japanese actress. Asian Americans are never considered.

So, Orange Apple, I hope by now you would have at least grasped the gist of what Lewis Tan meant to be 'an outsider as an Asian-American'.

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