For the first time since Kelly Marie Tran deleted her Instagram account over the summer due to online harassment, the actress speaks out about her decision and offers some perspective and encouragement along the way. Her words are very poignant in today’s atmosphere of social media, where actors are no longer simply characters on a screen, but real people who interact with fans on a daily basis. While social media is amazing in how it offers fans the opportunity to communicate with their favorite actors, it has also opened the doors for the dregs of society to spew their hatred and bigotry as well. Kelly reminds us to embrace what makes us different and to find worth in ourselves and those around us.
(source: New York Times)
It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them.
Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of color already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories.
And those words awakened something deep inside me — a feeling I thought I had grown out of. The same feeling I had when at 9, I stopped speaking Vietnamese altogether because I was tired of hearing other kids mock me. Or at 17, when at dinner with my white boyfriend and his family, I ordered a meal in perfect English, to the surprise of the waitress, who exclaimed, “Wow, it’s so cute that you have an exchange student!”
Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life: that I was “other,” that I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t good enough, simply because I wasn’t like them. And that feeling, I realize now, was, and is, shame, a shame for the things that made me different, a shame for the culture from which I came from. And to me, the most disappointing thing was that I felt it at all.
I believed those words, those stories, carefully crafted by a society that was built to uphold the power of one type of person — one sex, one skin tone, one existence.
I had been brainwashed into believing that my existence was limited to the boundaries of another person’s approval. I had been tricked into thinking that my body was not my own, that I was beautiful only if someone else believed it, regardless of my own opinion. I had been told and retold this by everyone: by the media, by Hollywood, by companies that profited from my insecurities, manipulating me so that I would buy their clothes, their makeup, their shoes, in order to fill a void that was perpetuated by them in the first place.
I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white. I want to live in a world where women are not subjected to scrutiny for their appearance, or their actions, or their general existence. I want to live in a world where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings.
These are the thoughts that run through my head every time I pick up a script or a screenplay or a book. I know the opportunity given to me is rare. I know that I now belong to a small group of privileged people who get to tell stories for a living, stories that are heard and seen and digested by a world that for so long has tasted only one thing. I know how important that is. And I am not giving up.
(Note: Above is just an excerpt from the article. Click here to check out the full article and read all of Kelly’s words on the subject.)
I would like to think that most of us can get behind Kelly’s line of thinking, and I hope that the Star Wars fandom will be a creative refuge for humanity moving forward – a place where all are welcome to embrace their unique voice and contribute to the galaxy far far away like only they can. I encourage you to voice your support for Kelly and others in similar situations. Remember that in the end, these are just movies, but the people that bring them to life on screen are real people with real struggles and feelings.
Kelly, we are glad you are a part of this universe, and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you!