What The Racism of Being Overlooked Feels Like
I am half Chinese, and half German(midwest white American), but I definitely don’t look like a white American male.
Mind you, as I write this, I’m purely writing this from an objective point of view while sharing from my subjective experience, to shed light on this subject because again, no one talks about it. American culture as it relates to men, is what I’m primarily speaking to here, as we are a melting pot of the world. I’m not playing victim at all, only sharing my experience.
I appear as ethnically ambiguous leaning towards my Asian side. Yellow on the outside, white on the inside. In my mind I always thought I was white. I grew up in white American suburban culture. The only encounter with Chinese culture was when I would go to my Chinese grandparent’s house once in a while.
My upbringing was great, normal, suburban. A very big contrast as to the world I’ve created for myself which I acknowledge has been a beautiful one of traveling the world, making great money with my art, and even working with the stars. Before now, I’ve never really thought about racism, until I broke free of my small world programming and have started looking at the world from a higher vantage point that I’ve begun to see so much more.
My only experiences of blatant racism were minimal, so I never really thought about it. But now as an entrepreneur out there in the world, I am seeing things from a different space, a different vantage point. Perspective is everything.
Looking back, I now see that I experienced racism in much more subtle ways — in the way of being overlooked. Not seen. Ignored. I’ve had to work extra hard to make ripples in the water so to speak. This has been true not only in business, but in my dating life as well.
Think about it: How many iconic, Asian Male entrepreneurs, sexy actors, athletes, corporate leaders, musicians, notable doctors, and political leaders can you think of by name?
-I’m pretty immersed in this world and I count them on one hand.
And when I talk about actors, I’m not talking about the Asian funny men or kung fu masters. I’m talking about Sexy Asian Male Icons that you can name.
We live in a world that is directed by celebrity culture. This includes athletes, leaders, musicians, but it is directed primarily by Hollywood, and Hollywood is really an extension of the underlying white power establishment that has existed for centuries. Think about how we romanticize relationships through the lens of Disney and other iconic films. Back in the 1910’s and 20’s, the Asian Actor Sessue Hayakawa was on the rise, but quickly forgotten, to the point of bringing us back to ground zero in the avenue of Asian male sex symbols. Culturally today, It wasn’t until Crazy Rich Asians that we got to see a mainstream film with Sexy Iconic Asian male leads, and my friends Jon Chu the director and Kevin Kwan the writer had to fight to make that happen. And even at the success of that movie, it still just made a small dent, although a great first ripple in our culture. In the process of making Crazy Rich Asians, Jon and Kevin even turned down a huge Netflix deal to put the film on the big screens because they knew how much it would help shift Asian perception culturally. And it did.
If you think about things just from a stereotypical point of view, you can see a hierarchy of where we as a culture, subconsciously place our respect and admiration. We are subconsciously told through main stream culture who gets the most respect without even having to earn it, just by where we see them placed as icons in our world.
Here’s my hierarchy of impression(Close your eyes and think of how many household names you can think of in each category) when it appeals to race in terms of how many iconic, successful people we know of and look up to in this world. Even though there’s blatant racism to black people, they are still highly positioned in today’s celebrity culture, which again unfortunately drives our culture and beliefs today.
1. White Men
2. White Women
3. Black Men
4. Black women
5. Hispanic Men
6. Hispanic Women
7. Asian Women (Including Indian, Asian cultures)
8. Asian Men (Including Indian, Asian cultures)
What I’m saying here is that, being an Asian Male holding last place in terms of the hierarchy of what is iconic, we have to work harder just to be seen, to gain respect and, -to be heard.
WE ARE SUBCONSCIOUSLY programmed to revere, to look up to, and to worship the white men. That the white man represents safety, success, and security.
How about you ladies? How often are you attracted to an Asian man? It takes a very special woman to let go of her -biological Hollywood, subconscious programming of the sexy white scruffy bearded man to be attracted to an Asian man. So many women I know and observe are obsessed with this archetype, and why is that? Hollywood fairytale programming. Even Black Men have sexy iconic role model placement in our culture. We have many iconic black male role models.
I started to notice being overlooked and getting less attention, the inherent racial bias that exists when I got on dating apps(Asian Men are the least swiped right according to dating app stats). Through out my life, I never got that much attention in the dating realm, and didn’t really think much of it. Until this day in age when actual data exists on dating apps. Even though I infused my creativity into the apps and made some profile refinements, I still barely got much interaction. I started asking questions and exploring how my white male friends experienced the dating apps, and much to my surprise their interactions looked like a completely different app(even though it was the same app)! This epiphany made me do a little more research on the topic and that’s how I found the above article and many others like it.
I was told once by a White male that it was just my own limiting beliefs in how I saw the world. I’m not sure why I even have to spend time trying to convince him that it’s just the world that exists on a grand scale… Although this is what privilege is: not having to or being able to see the world through someone else’s less privileged eyes. And look, I’ve done this myself too. It’s a good lesson to really dig deep into dropping our defense and putting ourselves in that person’s shoes. Privilege is a thing that is hard to understand when you actually have it.
Should I actually choose to let these app statistics mentally limit me, then yes that would become a limiting belief, but there is a difference between societal norm and different rules for different people, than a belief that I created that is untrue. I am doing my best not to let what is reality become my reality. I choose to live in a reality that I am infinite, despite those truth bricks that are exist on a daily basis.
I realized that my value comes more in the space of energetics and who I am being in the real world so I deleted all the apps. Besides, who needs another app to make you feel shitty about yourself?
Let’s face it, we are programmed by Hollywood and mass media on a grand scale whether we like it or not. We need more people in that world to shed light on the overlooked cultures of our country and society as a whole. We need to promote the things that actually give well being to our country as a whole.
This all affects the rest of business, athletics, politics, dating and all the things our society has to offer.
Asians, Hispanics, etc are just plain overlooked. We have been buried, and forgotten about. No spotlights, no nothing. (Minus Crazy Rich Asians).
Now, let’s take that into the business space. If the Asian man stereo-type is that of the nerdy accountant, the funny man, the martial arts guru, how does that translate to being heard and respected in an American business culture? Not very well. We(Asian men and every other POC) have to fight a lot more for that respect because of subconscious bias.
Sharing from my experience, my point here is that even as a good looking half Asian American Male, I’ve had to work way harder to just not be overlooked, let alone make a dent in this world of ours. In many ways it’s been so challenging to navigate our culture and society to get to where I’m at today.
And yes, I am damn proud of the accomplishments I’ve made in this world that I’ve created and continue to work to create even more of that. I acknowledge that I too, despite somewhat humble upbringings, I’ve worked for every penny I’ve made, but also have privilege in my own.
In lieu of the black and people of color movement happening to day, I wanted to add to the conversation especially since the only thing we’ve heard about Asians this year is the hate crimes for being Asian when the virus came from China, but even that was silenced pretty quickly. It never even made to the mainstream conversation.
Where are the Asian superhero movies? Where are they cultural drivers that promote the rest of us? How can we shed light to the Asians in our culture that are moving the needle?
I think there’s been an effort be “multicultural” but really, it’s still just a “United Colors of Benetton” play of “Oh, look at us, we’re inclusive” but really it just feels patronizing to us minorities. I think Hollywood, media, and the machine needs to spotlight people in minority cultures. Or we just destroy that system all together, but until then I think we can all do our best to spotlight and celebrate minorities.
I’m not saying I know what the answer is, but do want to shed light on the conversation, and keep it going.
I’m just asking you to notice, and hell spotlight some Asian folks if you have the platform.
And really, at the end of the day, we’re all just stardust going for a ride in the gift of this human experience. We get to choose the reality that we want to create and live in.