I explored racial identity in college and came upon a significant realization: For the last 20 years, I had hated myself for being Asian. Soon followed what seems now like a second adolescence bathed with an unfiltered anger at stereotypes, white people, and all forms of oppression I was aware of at the time.
- I was mad at the sexualization/exoticization of Asian women, no matter how we dress, or how we wear our hair, or what kind of accent we have.
- I was mad at the model minority stereotypes, the tokenization, the one dimensional portrayals.
- I was mad at myself for not realizing and acting sooner.
Even now, I still feel like if I make mistakes while driving, other people will assume, “Ugh Asians and Women are the worst drivers.” The meeting between Your Assumptions and My Assumptions is fascinating and complex. Sure, I could say, “I don’t need to concern myself with what other people think about me,” which is what I do most of the time – but I acknowledge that what I do as an individual has consequences for others who look like me. We’ve developed a society where, more often than not, individuals carry the burden of representing people who share one or more of their multiple identities. We’re all guilty of it (I’d like to meet someone who isn’t) – it’s just something we need to work on, sooner rather than later.
I made a lot of mistakes fumbling through 2011. I was your classic social justice warrior stereotype – I was learning, mad about what I was learning, and I had a lot of misplaced aggressions. But it was also a great time to channel those emotions into my artwork. And thus, Generalizasian was born.
I still continue to make mistakes. But it’s all part of the learning process, and I appreciate everyone who sticks through it with me (and I don’t blame anyone who didn’t).