“You might know me as Kelly.”
Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Kelly Marie Tran is proving that she truly belongs in the resistance with her powerful essay I Won’t Be Marginalized by Online Harassment.
Tran deleted her instagram posts in June of this year in response to being subjected to months of cyber bullying which included racists and sexist remarks from horrible people. But her written words don’t just speak about the hurtful aftermath of her film success. They address a much larger issue.
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.
Tran, who’s birth name is Loan, opens up about the steps she took, even as a child, to try to control the harassment. “I stopped speaking Vietnamese altogether,” she writes, “because I was tired of hearing other kids mock me.” She shares the fact that her parents felt the need to undergo “a literal erasure of culture” by changing their birth names to “American” names that would be easier for others to pronounce.
She writes, with heartbreaking accuracy, about the process of self-blame that comes from enduring this type of mental and emotional barrage.
I thought, “Oh, maybe if I was thinner” or “Maybe if I grow out my hair” and, worst of all, “Maybe if I wasn’t Asian.” For months, I went down a spiral of self-hate, into the darkest recesses of my mind, places where I tore myself apart, where I put their words above my own self-worth.
I’ve been there, girl. So many people have been there. And that is what makes this type of outrage from a strong woman so needed. We all need to speak up and out about stopping this nonsense. We need to help others out there know they are not alone in feeling lost and broken. And, most importantly, we need to let bullies know we are not willing to stand for the hatred they spew.
One media outlet chose to refer to Tran’s essay as a “plea for acceptance”. I say, screw that. Tran is not here to beg for anything. She’s here to demand the respect she deserves.
You might know me as Kelly. 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.
Hell yeah, you are.
Kelly Marie Tran is set to return as Rose Tico in Star Wars: Episode IX . The film is scheduled for release on December 20th, 2019.
Read her entire essay on the New York Times website