Hi there. How are you? Yes, you. How well have you coped – if ever – from the past year? How have you tended to your self-care and mental health? It’s been a really long and agonizing year of the COVID (plus a few months and some change) with lockdowns, restrictions, personal setbacks, and moments of loss and grief in many possible ways which we can all relate to; on top of that, dealing with hate crimes targetting those who look like us, our families and those in our communities have been intensely difficult to see, hear, and deal with every day. It truly has not been easy. At all.
How did our community respond? One of the many ways was through utilizing the power of storytelling. One new short film sheds a light on the stories of various Asian Americans and their history of being an American of Asian descent and the specific struggles they and their families have faced even wayyy before the rise in Asian hate crimes this past year. With a predominantly AAPI crew and storytellers, IN the VISIBLE is a short film that documents the histories of these various AAPI personalities and tackles everything from dismantling Asian American stereotypes especially the model minority myth.
Here is IN the VISIBLE:
Here is the full list of names of those featured in this short doc:
- NITHYA RAMAN – South Asian American | LA City Councilwoman
- JAKE CHOI – Korean American | Actor
- JOY CHO – Thai American | Designer
- MAS YAMASHITA – Japanese American | Retired
- TISHA ALYN – Filipino American | Golfer
- SHERRY COLA – Chinese American | Comedian/Actress
- LARRY SIR – Cambodian American | Mechanic
- LINDSAY WATSON – Hawaiian | Actress
- LIEN TA – Vietnamese-Chinese American | Restaurateur
- BENJAMIN HOLTROP – Taiwanese American | Stylist
- JUNE BERK – Japanese American | Volunteer at JANM
- ALBERT TSAI – Chinese American | Actor
Here is a note from Director Natasha Lee:
Asians in America have had a long and weighted history. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the forced internment of Japanese Americans duringWWII, and more recently, the wave of anti-Asian hate crimes as they’re scapegoated for the coronavirus, the experience of being Asian in America is one of discrimination – whether overt or covert.
None of this is new, but it is re-surfacing age-old problems so deeply rooted in our cultures and the American culture – including the model minority myth created by white supremacy. The AAPI community has both benefited from and been hurt by this myth, and it is now our responsibility to change the course for a more inclusive and just future. We can’t sit back and let others tell our stories anymore. We can no longer be complicit in our own invisibility. Asians are critical in the making of a forward America, in all fields and industries and societies.
Having immigrated to the US from Malaysia at the age of 9, I hid my Malaysian-Chinese heritage as much as possible. I rarely spoke in my native tongue.I felt shame in being hyphenated. As immigrants, as children of immigrants, we often feel the need to express gratitude to our white counterparts.We were groomed to believe that we’re on borrowed land, on borrowed time. Even generations in.
As I grew older and began exploring race and identity in depth with my AAPI friends, I realized how much of our cultures and origins have gone untold.Contrary to popular belief, we are not a monolith. There are about 50 recognized ethnic groups under the ‘Asian’ umbrella – to be grouped together as one is to erase our different experiences, histories, and customs.
Through In The Visible, I wanted to make a film that captured the range of experiences of Asians of various ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds. By putting our subjects front and center in telling their own stories on camera in the hopes of building empathy in the community and dispelling stereotypical assumptions about Asians.
In the process of creating the film, it was important that the audience see and hear not just stories of struggle, pain, and shame, but also of ones of hope, optimism, and resilience, not to mention the tremendous commitment Asians in America have to creating a better future for this country for future generations. By striving to keep the film visceral and unexpected in its emotion and arc through the editing and sound design, I hope that the audience is able to see themselves in the place of the subjects and empathize with their perspectives.
By creating this project with an all AAPI crew, we are taking back our narrative. We taking back our visibility. We are in the visible. And we are proud a shell of being Asian American.
INtheVISIBLE can now be streamed with the embedded link above or you can find it HERE.
You can also find INtheVISIBLE online at www.inthevisible.co.