A Millennial and Hollywood Whitewashing

Whitewashing. If you keep an eye on pop culture you’ve head this term spring up every now and again when a major movie is about to be released. So you hear it but you don’t understand it. Well, here’s a millennial about to break down for you.

Whitewashing is when a white person is picked to play a role that is traditionally a person of color (POC) in the original source material. In the past few years there have been many examples of this, including the recent movie, Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson. Ghost in the Shell is a movie adaptation of the Japanese manga series by the same title. It follows the story of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg officer living in a futurist city set in Japan. So when the manga was set to be made into a movie, the rational way of thinking would assume that the casting directors and movie directors alike would look for an Asian actor to fill the titled spot.

You know what they say about assuming things.

So instead of choosing an Asian actress for the role of Motoko Kusanagi, the powers that be chose Scarlett Johansson. Don’t get me wrong, Johansson is an incredibly talented actress but by her taking on this role, she is actively participating in this plague that has been infecting Hollywood since the early 1940’s. That’s right, whitewashing in Hollywood can be traced all the way back to the 1940’s. And whitewashing back then was probably more racist than you would expect. Instead of replacing POC roles with white people, they had white people dress to look like POC. Don’t believe me? Google search Mr. Yunioshi and you’ll see what I mean.

You’d think over time people might realize the ramifications of whitewashing and fix the problem, but then we’re caught up in assuming things again and that never works out well for us.

In an interview for the film, Johansson states that she would never attempt to portray a character of another race….except, she did. She is a white woman playing the role of an Asian woman. This is the very definition of whitewashing. And she’s not the only one who has taken part in this racist trend. Tilda Swinton played the traditionally Asian role of The Ancient One in Marvel’s blockbuster hit, Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch played the character Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness, a role that was portrayed by Mexican actor, Ricardo Montalbán in the original series. There are countless films and characters that I can list from just this decade alone. Frankly, it’s a little disheartening to see all of these great POC roles go to white actors when there are brilliant POC actors out there.

So now that we know what whitewashing is and we have examples, we need to talk about why whitewashing is wrong and what ramifications it has.

Well, for starters, whitewashing is racist. I mean, that is pretty much a given. And right now, when our country is faced with political and social upheaval, being called or seen as racist is not something to aspire to be. It’s plain and simple people, whitewashing = racism = bad.

But perhaps the most important ramification of whitewashing is the removal of representation.

What is representation exactly you ask? It’s seeing yourself represented within a larger group. Remember that line you heard in History class? No taxation without representation? Don’t tax me without having someone there to represent me i.e. someone who will fight for what I believe in and my values. Representation within modern media is the same and when POC roles are whitewashed, their representation is taken away.

Think of it this way, before Tiana was introduced as a Disney princess, there was no African American princess for little Black girls to look up to. They were not represented. The same goes for Mulan, Moana, Pocahontas, and Jasmine. Without these princesses of color, young girls of color would not have a princess to look up to. So what are the impacts of this lack of representation? It’s simple, we are taking away hope from the youth.

Having representation is critical. Being able to see yourself reflected in mass media and pop culture provides self worth and value. It shows that we are visible and that we can do whatever we put our minds to. Having Tiana as a princess shows little Black girls that they too can become a princess like Tiana, they can open their own restaurant even when the whole world says they can’t. Having characters like Doc McStuffins shows them that they can become doctors if they so wish. Proper representation opens multiple doors of opportunity.

By seeing themselves represented, it gives those who have been invisible for so long new life. Having characters that look like them, talk like them, share the same level of ability as them, be attracted to the same people as them, identify as they do, gives them value; it lets them know that people see them and that they can do whatever they put their minds to.

Without proper representation, we shut down their opportunities, we stifle their imaginations and their want to live above their station in life. Whitewashing takes away this representation and gives it to white people who have been the hegemony in mass media and pop culture for centuries. Representation gives a voice to the voiceless and whitewashing silences that voice.

This is why whitewashing is wrong. Not only is it blatant racism but it quashes the much needed representation younger generations need. It tells our youth to stop dreaming because they’ll never make it, because there is no one there to tell them they can.

So what can you do to stop whitewashing? Well unless you are an actor and have the ability to turn down these whitewashed roles, not much. This isn’t something you can call your state representative about. What you can do is talk about it. Tell your friends and make people aware. And those movies I talked about? Don’t see them. Don’t buy the DVD. Don’t spend your money on something that is promoting (intentionally or not) racism. Promote shows and movies that place POC in a central lead.

Whitewashing is a problem that has been facing Hollywood for years. Don’t you think it’s about time it’s stopped?

Want to learn more about whitewashing? Check out these informative sites and articles:

 

 

A Millennial and Feminism

Today is March 8th, a.k.a International Women’s Day, a.k.a. A Day without Women.

What a perfect day to share what feminism means to me.

I’m sure when you hear the word feminism there are several definitions that come to mind. Some will call it man hating. Others will say women’s rights. But when I hear and think about feminism I think equality.

The Oxford dictionary defines feminism as: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. It says nothing about putting down one sex to bring the other up. It’s all about helping to reach equality for all.

To me, feminism is not about hating men, it’s about bringing understanding and equal opportunity to the playing field. It’s not about what affects white women but what affects all women regardless of age, race, religion, orientation, and gender. It’s not about providing abortions and disregarding life, it’s about protecting a woman’s right to choose what she does to her own body and offering lifesaving healthcare.

To me, feminism is about speaking up for the voiceless, the marginalized, the ones society has forgotten. Feminism is about fighting for the undeniable rights of the people who can’t fight. It’s about protecting women, men, children, the venerable, and the disabled as hard as I can so they can live their best life.

It is a lifestyle of unadulterated love and a burning passion to do what’s right. I have spent my life surrounded by strong women who have instilled in me these beliefs. My mother, my sister, my grandmother, my friends, they have all empowered me and helped me grow as a person. I own them so much. All I can do to repay them is to do as they did and spread love for all human kind. I honor what they did for me by fighting for others.

I am a feminist because I believe in equality for all.

This is what feminism means to me. What does it mean to you?

A Millennial and Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is not a millennial issue. It’s not even strictly a woman’s issue. Sexual assault is a human issue. It involves people of every race, every religion, every gender, and every sexuality. Women are raped and rape. Men are rape and are raped. Sometimes it makes the headlines but most of the time it is over looked, brushed under the rug, or ignored. Why is this? Why do we as people let such horrific acts slide? Why do we ignore them? Why do we victim blame? Why do we let those responsible get away with it?

Why?

Is it because we don’t want to acknowledge that these things happen? Because if we do does that mean it could happen to us? Are we afraid that our children could have been exposed? What is it that makes sexual assault so taboo?

I’ll admit, this topic for this post didn’t come out of the blue. I recently watched the award winning movie, Spotlight, and yeah, it was an eye opener. As a Catholic it was horrifying. As a woman and a feminist it is the stuff of nightmares. How could the Church, an institution that I have been a part of since birth, be so cavalier with this? How could we as people let this continue and why haven’t we done more to stop it?

Sexual assault is not something that we should continue to ignore. It is a disease that is eating away at our nation and we cannot look the other way.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one and sixteen men will be raped in their lifetime and 63% of all rapes go unreported (NSVRC). Those are some staggering statistics. So this begs the question, why do so many rape and sexual assault cases go unreported?

I may not be able to give a complete answer but I sure as hell can give some insight. Think about this: the case of Brock Turner, a college athlete that was accused and tried for the rape of an unidentified woman. I’m sure if you are up to date with the news you remember this case. The majority of Turner’s defense rested on the woman’s state of mind during the incident; she was drunk.

Soon that’s all people talked about. She got herself drunk, she was asking for it, she said yes while she was under the influence of alcohol. All regards of consent and the very nature of consent thrown out the window. Brock was a Freshman and a promising athlete. He had a lot to loose if he was convicted. Never mind there was DNA evidence and eyewitness accounts. It was all about the woman he raped. It was her fault for getting drunk.

That’s why sexual assault is so under reported, in my opinion. Because of how quickly it falls back on the victim.Their names get dragged through the mud while their perpetrators are seen as the victim. What they wear, what state of mind they were in, it all somehow gets turned against them and they are doubted. They are seen as money grabbers or people who want attention.

And then there are the critics who will point fingers and claim that it is a false accusation. That these people want to slander the names of good people, that they are just making all of this up for money. Well, here is what I have to say to that: the rate of false reporting is between 2 to 10% (NSVRC). 2 to 10%. That’s not a whole lot so that kind of stomps all over the claim that the victims just want money.

The media and their viewers see these people not as the victims they are but opportunists, dead set on ruining some poor man’s life. So rather than face this undeserved ridicule, they don’t report it. They let it go. After all, history has shown that the courts won’t take their side.

Which brings me to my next point. Brock Turner was found guilty of raping an unconscious woman. But he only served three months of his six month sentence. Three months. He raped an unconscious woman and only got six months jail time. He only served three months. Why report the assault at all if your attacker is just going to spend a few months in jail after violating your agency, your body, your life? What good will it do?

This is why sexual assault is such an important issue. This is why we can no longer look the other way. Our friends, neighbors, family members, people we pass on the street, children, the disabled, and the vulnerable are at risk of falling into the hands of a sexual predator. RAINN, the national sexual assault hotline reports that there are 321,500 victims of rape and sexual assault in the United States each year…each year (RAINN).

We have to be the ones to stop this. To raise our children to understand consent and agency. To teach them right verses wrong, what is acceptable and what it not. To understand that the way a person dresses does not give consent, that saying yes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not consent.

We need to stop blaming the victim. We need to attack this systemic problem that is facing our nation. Stop treating sexual assault like it is nothing, stop normalizing it.

If you haven’t already, you should watch Spotlight. It was a truly eye opening movie that will get you thinking and hopefully enrage you enough to start making a difference.

Sexual assault is not a millennial issue nor is it a woman’s issue. It’s a human issue.

We as people need to step up, speak out, and stop sexual assault.


 

Learn more about sexual assault and how you can prevent it by visiting these sites:

Donate, volunteer, and speak up. Together we can end sexual assault.

A Millennial and Her Call to Arms – Resist

You’re just being sore losers.

Now you know what we’ve felt like for the last eight years.

He’s doing exactly what he promised.

We’re making America great again.

NO.

It’s fascism. It’s xenophobia. It’s NOT a normal presidency. And we as Americans need to resist. We need to stop history from repeating itself.

We need to resist.

This nation is a nation of immigrants. Trace your roots back and you’ll see, you’ll see where you came from and chances are you’ll find, your story didn’t start in America. We are all immigrants living in a land of opportunity. Why should we close our doors to those seeking the same things our ancestors did so many years ago?

Homeland security? Hardly. Look at the facts and you’ll see the truth. You’ll see the hate and the racism behind this hateful order. You’ll see why we have to resist. We are not a Christian nation as so many people like to think we are. We are a nation of many religions, religions that we are allowed to practice under the protection of the First Amendment. Denying entry to this country based on religion is in direct violation of that Amendment.

It’s hypocritical. How many pilgrims fled England because of religious persecution? We must resist to protect our rights, to protect those seeking refuge, to protect those who need protection. We must resist for them.

We need to resist.

We the people, we come from all different walks of life and we need to protect one another. We need to protect our brothers and sisters of every color, of every religion, of the LGBTQA+ community, and all of those suffering from persecution and laws that will strip them of their basic civil rights.

They are people just like you and I and they need our help. Too long have they been treated as outcasts in our society just because of who they love, who they are, what color skin they have. Too long have they faced injustice. Our brothers and sisters of color are being gunned down in the streets while those who inflict this pain face no repercussions. Mothers are left without their children, children are turned away from their homes just because of who they love. We need to resist to protect them, to include them, to treated them as the equals they are. We need to stand in solidarity, hand in hand and resist.

We need to resist.

My fellow cis-teres and sisters, we need to rise up. Fight for your rights. Fight for each other. Resist the power that wants to control our bodies, our liberties, our lives. Our power lies in our number and our strength comes from our solidarity. Resist the misogyny spewing from this presidency, resist those who aim to take away our autonomy. Resist for one another.

We need to resist.

Our futures are at stake. As millennials, people look down on us. They see youth as inexperience but that’s not true. Our youth leads to new ideas, new innovations. We need to use our voice and fight for our futures. Lay the foundations that will support the life still to come. Rise up and resist.

We need to resist.

Fight against those who want absolute control, who wants to set our country back. Fight against racism and homophobia. Fight against fascism and xenophobia.

Resist and fight for this place we call home.

Rise up.

Use your voice.

Fight.

Resist.

This post is a response to The Daily  Post’s Prompt, Resist

 

 

A Millennial and the Women’s March on Washington

Wow. I am speechless. I mean, how fantastic was yesterday? Millions of people worldwide, all marching to the same tune. So much love, so much hope – I have never been more proud of being a feminist than I am now. I only wish I was there.

Yeah, I didn’t actually make it to any of the marches held across America but I sure did keep track of it via social media. Say what you will, social media is a God send. Even through a computer screen I could feel the love and the energy from those glorious pink crowds.

That was such a monumental rally, the largest ever for some states I believe (I’m just repeating what I’ve seen on Twitter so don’t quote me on this). And wow, how awesome is that? After such a nasty election, people throwing insults every which way, and a nation dividing itself, it’s nice to see such a large gathering of people all united for the same cause. I am awestruck.

And the signs, oh golly the signs. So many wonderful, powerful, thought provoking signs. We certainly are a creative bunch of folks.

I’m sure, 192 words in  you’re wondering what the millennial perspective is on all of this. Well, let me tell you: it’s hope. I see the possibility of a future where protests can be peaceful and even fun. Where voices are heard and action is taken. I see a future where everyone has the civil rights they are entitled to. My perspective is one that is hopeful.

It doesn’t matter who you voted for or what political party you align with. What matters is, there is hope for a better future, a united future where everyone is equal and protected by the same rights.

Hope is on the horizon and I for one, am happy to see it.