Hey guys! Hope you’ve all been enjoying all the OWLS posts this month (I know I have)
For this month we did a topic that a lot of our members were looking forward to. Two people that I can think of who were pretty excited about this month’s theme are Naja, who wrote about Killer Bee and the Shinobi of the Hidden Cloud Village, and Kat, who wrote about diversity in Bleach. For this blog tour I also noticed a lot of our members branching out of the anime fandom. For example, Arria wrote about live action movies, Lyn wrote about a South Korean webtoon, and Rai talked about Avatar
Me on the other hand. I was slightly nervous about the topic and for my tour stop I thought I’d do a little bit of “get to know me”, anime, and discussion post. Don’t worry, no baby pictures shall be disclosed in this post (hehehe)
“Colors” In My Life
Out of all my siblings, you could say that I had the most difficult time with my education and communicating with people. Since I was the first child in a non-English speaking family, I knew very little (if any) English when I went to school. My family is from Mexico and while they did try their best to teach me some English, all I really knew when I entered kindergarten was the alphabet. Luckily, my teacher was very patient with me and helped me along the way
As I grew up I had to take an ESL (English as a Second Language) class that cut into my regular school schedule. It was me and one of my bestfriends at the time and after about a year of ESL, I “graduated” from the class. I spoke English well enough that I no longer needed help
Outside of education, I’ve always lived with other Hispanics, specifically Mexicans. I used to live close enough to La Villita, which is a Mexican neighborhood out in Chicago. I grew up watching Telenovelas, which are Mexican dramas. I would camp out in the living room with my family and we’d all watch together. Most, if not all, of my friends up until college were either Mexican or descendants. It wasn’t until I went to college where the diversity among my friends began to expand
I started getting to know more people as I grew up. Being online has especially diversified the people I interact with, but my roots aren’t racist-free. My family has always been very vocal about what they think about other races. Things I don’t want to put here but that are common enough that I’m sure other minorities have heard them before, which is really sad considering we’re all in the same boat
Being Discriminated Against
In terms of discrimination, I’ve probably only felt put down because of my background twice. One time was when I was in high school and I went to see my counselor. I was really timid then and apparently being Mexican and quiet equated to not understanding English. It was the one time I was really humiliated because they spoke to me slowly and repeatedly asked me if I understood what they were saying. Suffice to say I never went back to see them
The second time wasn’t directly at me. It was during my youngest brother’s early elementary years. The school he was enrolled in was putting him in a bilingual class and my parents didn’t want that. We had to go to a meeting to get him placed into an all English speaking class. During that meeting one of the teachers? counselors? expressed sympathy (possibly) towards my situation as a kindergartener knowing no English. I took it negatively because of her tone and the way she implied I couldn’t handle learning
Now I mention all of this because I think it’s important as to why I had issues thinking of a post for the “Colors” prompt this month. As a bit of a recap, this is what the topic was:
We are all part of one race, the human race. “Colors” refers to people of color in anime. For this monthly topic, we will be discussing how people of color or characters of different “races” (a literal alien race) are represented in anime. Some topics we are considering is the dangers of stereotyping, bi-racial characters, and the importance of racial inclusion.
“Colors” In Anime
Like everyone’s mentioned in the previous posts, there are many people of different races in anime and they do a really awesome job at pointing things out, relating them to the real world, and just having a personal connection to them
Me on the other hand? I could only do surface analysis
- Slaine is a Terran who grew up as a Martian and was abused and discriminated against because of his origins even though technically everyone was once from Earth
- Haru felt isolated because of his genetics and has a complex over his eye color
- Sohma is the Prince of Bengal and is usually cast aside, called upon by Ciel only when he’s needed. His personality tends to be childish and ignorant, which Ciel takes advantage of
- Hitomi is from the Mystic Moon and treated differently because of her way of dress and ‘wives tales’ (not to mention that the Mystic Moon is said to be cursed)
- Van is not only a Draconian (a cursed descendant of Atlantis) but from Fanelia, which is said to be a beautiful country but considered by others as ‘backwards’
- Kazuma is an alter user from the Lost Ground who is pretty much a criminal because that’s what society views alter users that are not part of HOLY
There’s a lot of shows I could have written about in terms of “Colors” but I just couldn’t get into that mindset because I didn’t feel my post would be genuine and I really didn’t want to write something I wouldn’t be satisfied with. Especially not for OWLS, which is a group I really feel needs to have some passion behind it
So where does that leave me?
Lack of “Colors” In Media Doesn’t Bother Me
I had a bit of an OWLS crisis a few hours ago because it was already my day to post and I had nothing to really say about the topic. Yes, I really believe that being able to see yourself represented in media is important and it’s nice that people are seeing that more and more in new content (I hear a lot of people are excited about Coco since it has some Dia de los Muertos content and a Hispanic character). At the same time, however, I don’t really care for it on a personal level
When I watch something I’m not really concerned about the main character being a light skinned individual and oh look, his sidekick is darker, that’s me in life isn’t it? No. What concerns me is if I can connect to their actions, their struggles, and the message of the story regardless of what role they play in the story
For example, Katsuki Yuuri is asian. I’m not. Yes we’re essentially both people of color if we’re placing Caucasians as the majority, but he’s much lighter than me. We don’t really look alike and yeah, I don’t really know too many characters who have the same skin tone or background as me, but does that mean I can’t see myself represented in them? No, because race isn’t what makes me have connections to people and characters. I relate to Yuuri because he’s struggling with life, he doesn’t know what his future will look like, and he’s met people that inspire him to become better
And I think that’s one of the reasons so many people fell in love with him and the show
Of course, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother me at all. It does, but not because I don’t feel represented or represented wrongly. It bothers me because it just doesn’t go with the story. For example, I was really upset about the Attack on Titan live action, which Lyn can testify to, because everyone in the movie was asian. Since it’s an adaptation of the anime/manga, I felt like the only asian actress should have been Mikasa (and 1 other) because it’s canon she’s the only asian left
Attack on Titan was a ‘last of humanity’ show and by having everyone cast as asian, I felt it took away from my enjoyment (so much I think I rated this movie less than 5/10)
“Colors” In Your Opinion
I know that Kat mentioned there are people who say they “don’t see color”. I fall into this category. I don’t see color in media in the sense that I won’t be upset if the main character doesn’t “look like me” (this phrase annoys me, lol). I just don’t see color as important unless that’s the point of the movie. If the story deals with the struggles of a person of color, then I pay more attention to how they’re treated, the way they’re portrayed, and their environment. I’ll feel less of a connection with them because I’ve never experienced much discrimination, but I can empathize
I haven’t really heard many people who take my view of race in media, especially now-a-days where everyone wants the main character or hero of the next big hit to be a person of color
I really do think it has to do with my upbringing and my lack of “Mexican pride” (I do think my culture is interesting but I don’t know too much about it and my family isn’t like your traditional Mexican families), but what about you guys?
What is your stance on race and representation in media?
Wow sorry this post got longer than I expected and I feel like I still didn’t get my point across but I tried. Don’t forget to check out Eren’s post Races and Themes in Sailor Moon: Good vs. Evil or Judgement vs. Acceptance, which was posted at the start of this week. We’re already nearing the end of the “Colors” tour, our last stops being over at Pinky’s Palace (4/28) and Two Happy Cats (4/29)!