In all seriousness, I don't dislike Keira. It's not her fault that the mainstream media fell in love with her, and sure Nagra is a working actress and even got a prominent role on ER [. . . as a doctor] but my problem is less with Keira's success and more with why Nagra didn't have success to the same degree. Success can be subjective and there are always individual factors that can't be duplicated to another person but I can't help but wonder, would anyone have considered Nagra for Pride and Prejudice? Pirates of the Caribbean? And why exactly is that?
The next day, on twitter, I noticed an odd hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick on the sidebar. Curious, I clicked over, and the first tweet I saw was this:
Maybe it's not a big deal. I mean we're just talking about acting, and an actress and how her race may have affected her career. .. and oh, wait. Well that is kind of important. That is a conversation we should be having. And through clicking over to this hashtag I saw this is a problem that bothered more than just myself.
And though I had opened my laptop to do some fiction writing, I couldn't look away from the ever refreshing newsfeed. And I began participating, relating to others on their experiences as an Asian-American and sharing my own thoughts and perspectives.
Like the suggestion almost ever desi girl has received:
And I shared some frustrations, like "our" fixation on the skin thing. And in doing so I learned the desire to appear white is not limited to just South Asians:
And the way I smile politely but inwardly groan when told that my name or my eyes are exotic. I realize it's a compliment but Aisha is about as exotic in most of the world as Jennifer and Katie are to the North American world.
And how while yes, it makes sense that spell check doesn't recognize my name, it still can get tiring.
And the frustration when these struggles as an Asian-American are then passed down potentially to our children, like correcting and correcting again, mispronunciations, and politely declining the request to nickname them. I grew up so accustomed to mispronunciations I began to introduce myself in that manner. It just got too tiring to correct. I don't do this as anymore, and hope my children never will. I gave them their names for a reason, pronunciation and all.
And while there were trolls, as Grace Hwang Lynch [who also wrote an insightful piece on BlogHer about this topic] pointed out the results were more positive than otherwise:
Because at the end of the day, we were talking, really talking. Not as South Asians, East Asians, or or any other subdivided categories, but as a cohesive group with an issue in common.
A few weeks ago, the South Asian blogsophere had a huge and important conversation sparked by a post about the desi marriage crisis over at Love Insh'allah. It triggered a great deal of debate, arguments, but most importantly conversations about the state of marriage in our desi community. The issue created such a strong response because its a sore subject, an open wound, the state of marriage in our culture. In some ways #NotYourAsianSidekick did the same thing. It touched on a wound that all Asians share, not just South, or East, or West, or North Asians felt, but all Asians shared and it united us, and it helped us to have conversations. We need solutions to these issues, but we can only get there if we talk about what hurts.
Reading these tweets and participating in the conversation gives me hope. It's inspiring to see "us" tell our story and share "our" experiences. In leading our own dialogue we can have a better chance of owning how to fix it and therefore defining our own future and changing the status quo. There are many legitimate concerns I have with social media but I am truly thankful that at the end of the day through social media and having that space to talk, we can have conversations like these. And maybe one day we will find more leading roles, and maybe one day we will be more than just the Asian sidekick.