You’re minding your own business. You’re doing the dishes, maybe. Your kid is watching videos in the living room. Then you hear it: the bamboo flute. The gong. The gods of Netflix Autoplay have forsaken you.
Your child has found… the Asian-themed episode.
I like to think of the writing meetings that spawn these terrible, stereotype-ridden, white fantasy episodes. “How can we make it clear this episode is about the Asian character?” the writers ask, throwing darts at a board. Dragons… tai chi… someone writing a haiku… perfect! Put everyone in a kimono and have the voice actors roll their Ls and call it a day.
It’s so disheartening to see that television for children so rarely even tries to break the cycle of racism. It’s lazy, it’s offensive, and it’s damaging kids. There’s been a ton written already about some recent titles, by people more qualified to talk about it than me; thinkpieces on the racism of Ghost in the Shell (Rinko Kikuchi was robbed), Doctor Strange (WHY) and Iron Fist (don’t even start) are good places to start.
It suuuuuuuuuuucks seeing all this crap that’s trying to get its fingers into Momo. As a white mom raising a mixed race daughter, I feel completely unprepared for helping her one day navigate whatever that is going to mean for her, both in ways she chooses and in ways that have been unfairly thrust on her by a lifetime of being steeped in stereotypes about her heritage.