Kelly Marie Tran speaks out about online harassment
Online harassment has generally been a begrudgingly accepted thing since the introduction of social media. This is especially so if you are anyone outside of the white heterosexual male mold. And yes, I do expect some level of angry comments just by mentioning this because there is a predictability at this point with how online harassment develops.
Three months ago, Kelly Marie Tran from Star Wars: The Last Jedi deleted her social media after months of continuous online harassment pertaining to her ethnicity, her gender, and her character’s involvement in the plot of The Last Jedi. Today she addressed in a first-person essay how the online harassment impacted her, how it reinforced the narrative that she had been spoonfed by society her entire life, and how she was planning on circumventing the narrative by creating a world where children don’t have to spend their lives wishing that they were something other than white:
“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.”
via The New York Times
The harassment online can be very overwhelming, especially when you are a public figure. The amount of vitriol that Kelly Marie Tran received for being an Asian woman was mindblowing but, for many of us familiar with the growing toxicity in fandoms everywhere, it was not surprising.
Tran goes on further to describe instances in her life where her ethnicity was utilized against her and helped create this idea that she should strive to push back against her heritage. To try be “normal” versus being the “other” that always gets targeted by our white heteronormative society. Her stories are familiar to me because I’ve heard similar versions from many of my colleagues both here and abroad in East and Southeast Asia. To know that Tran was brought back to this place where she remembered these painful moments in her life breaks my heart.
Leaving social media and taking the time to recover from the hate that was thrown at her gave Kelly Marie Tran time to think about how she wanted to move forward. Her statement is below:
“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.”
“I am the first woman of color to have a leading role in a Star Wars movie. I am the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair. My real name is Loan. And I am just getting started.”
via The New Your Times
Tran speaking out about the online abuse she has faced is important. People should not be silenced or bullied. Period. Not because of who they play, what they look like, where they are from, etc. And her voice, as well as many other marginalized individuals, are important in the overall social narrative.