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Under the Influence: Racial Identity

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Under the Influence: Racial Identity The concept of race has always been a controversial one. As people, we are influenced by the media and our communities to conform to a particular race. For some the choice may be obvious. But how about when you identify with two different races? Growing up in a biracial family, I was unsure of who I really was and confused about my racial identity My mom kept in contact more with her family than my dad did with his. Because of this, I was more personally exposed to Asian culture. I thought identifying with one race would be me find who I am. Then I would know how to dress, how to behave, how to belong. This would be fine if it wasn't for the obvious difference. Physically, I look more black than Asian. People often try to guess my ethnicity - "Are you Indian? Ethiopian? Dominican?" When I tell them that I am half Cambodian, the answer that usually follows is "Oh I would've never guessed!" For years, I would let these kind of answers affect me The Asian side of my family was quick to point out my blackness, sometimes in a despicable way. To them, marrying black people is a taboo. It didn't help that I didn't fit the Asian magazine ideal of white skin, thin body and small features. I felt like a stranger amongst my own family. Slowly, I started to hate being black. I wanted to change the way I looked. Eventually, I resorted to bleaching my skin with products imported from Thailand. I thought that having lighter skin would make me acceptable to my mother's side of the family. But the bleaching didn't work; my skin color stayed the same. I was frustrated, but a new realization set in. I was going to have to accept myself the way I was. At one point during this time, I learned about the Black Panther Movement and the people in it who were being prosecuted just because they were black. I admired their refusal to let other people establish their place in society. They wanted to show that they were black and proud. From then on, I decided I was going to be proud of who I am. Instead of focusing on what I couldn't change, I worked on being myself. I found ways to express myself, to show everybody that I didn't care about being accepted anymore. Drawing, painting, readying, listening to music... ...and developing my sense of style all served as ways for me to express myself. I've learned to accept that people can be ignorant and everyone has preferences. I can't let other people influence my identity at the cost of my own happiness. I can't be anyone else, but myself.

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 27 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: Mattaya Fitts, Artists for Humanity, Boston, USA
Director: Mattaya Fitts, Artists for Humanity, Boston, USA
Views: 528
Posted by: dsavelau on Oct 16, 2011

In "Under the Influence: Racial Identity" a young woman struggles to find her racial identity.

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