Representation Matters by Therese Rook

Representation matters. That’s a full sentence.

Growing up “racially ambiguous” meant I saw NO ONE in media that looked like me, and sparse representation of Filipino or Black people in mainstream media. Showing my kids movies now and hearing their giggles when the main character looks like them brings tears to my eyes. I spent so much of my youth wishing I was blonde, white, thin— you name it— because I thought I would be worth MORE if I was what was on every billboard, magazine cover and TV show.

People up in arms about “woke casting” or a push for BIPOC representation miss the point ON PURPOSE. This is about artistic expression, about putting the best actor in a role, about showing people that we can all be whatever we want to be. Don’t BIPOC children deserve to also see themselves in media? Don’t they deserve to see an astronaut that looks like them and think “that could be me one day”?

I literally cried when I took my sons to Disney World and saw that in the fireworks show they had Moana, Tiana, and Mulan projected onto the castle. My husband couldn’t understand why it made me emotional, but that’s because he didn’t grow up a mixed girl seeing only white princesses ever displayed in public. While Cinderella, Snow White and Belle were on lunchboxes and t-shirts, there wasn’t anything on that scale for Mulan and Pocahontas— and they came decades after the other princesses.

My sons don’t have to feel like they should hide their race, or feel the pressure to assimilate, to fit in like I did. That’s because of trailblazers who pushed to the front and said “this is my space, and I’m taking it”. Let’s keep pushing, let’s keep taking up space, let’s keep showing everyone we can be whoever we want to be.

I love you. I’m proud of you. You are seen and worthy of all your dreams.

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