The Fairy Princess has a two year old – most people who read my blog know that. She blogs, generally, about diversity in theater and representation on television – and Diversity is an ongoing conversation.
The reason the conversation about Diversity is ongoing is because the world is not run by, this is a generalization and The Fairy Princess knows that, however it is a generalization for a reason – not because this is intended to be a rallying cry – the world is not run by People of Color.
Unless you work for Shonda Rhimes.
Are there People of Color everywhere?
However The Fairy Princess and her Family reside in the United States. She is also a Member of the UK Commonwealth by Citizenship, so in HER world – barring The President of the United States – the world is run by white people.
White, straight people.
Caucasian Cisgendered People who enjoy a greater sense of Privilege.
Now, The Fairy Princess‘s Father was a Caucasian Cisgendered male – so she has nothing against people who identify themselves that way – unless in impacts the way in which she lives, or the way her family lives -changes their ability to walk about the world doing whatever it is one does all day – with us, it is generally auditions, drink coffee, creative meetings, physical health maintenance and making sure that my child lives the fullest life for his age group that any child can live. Your regular creative nightmare.
Today, she took her child to the local pool. Her child, whose heritage is Korean, Chinese, Irish and Welsh, is one who, by appearance, looks 100% Asian. He is gorgeous. The Fairy Princess has been told this by People who work in Entertainment, so of course it must be true because People in Entertainment are always honest.
Personal attractiveness aside, she will say, her kid has an amazing personality and a love of life that reminds her every day that we should all strive to be as full of the wonder of the world as we can.
Anyway, today she took him to the local pool – he looked very cute. He was running around enjoying himself, with Mommy only a few steps away because…well…there was water and he was in the pool, capice?
Everyone who looked at him enjoying himself and laughing, smiled.
Even the very cute little 5, possibly 6 year old girl who was near him in the water. It is a wading pool, and kids younger than 8 generally stay in this area.
As this lovely little Caucasian girl with the long lovely brown hair looked at him, she smiled. She looked up at me and she smiled. She looked at The Fairy Princess‘s son, who was laughing and splashing, and smiled again. Then she looked at The Fairy Princess and asked her a question.
“Can he see?”
The Fairy Princess took a second, because well…she had to watch her son, and also, she wanted to take stock of the situation in full, to see if she understood it correctly. Which is when the question was expanded.
“Can he open his eyes?”
Because The Fairy Princess‘s son has beautiful and expressive Asian shaped eyes. Asian eyes tend to be smaller in appearance than Caucasian eyes, but they are not. They are the same sized eye that everyone has – generally, Asians have an epicanthic fold – which is just skin, Folks, it’s just skin. The eyeballs are the same size as anyone else.
Yes, we can see.
This is why Diversity on our television screens and on our stages and forty feet high in the movies matters.
This little girl, it seems, has has no interaction with Asian Americans, and her question was simply her trying to understand something that she had never seen. So she asked a question that, had The Fairy Princess‘s son been older and more aware, probably would have hurt his feelings. It might have made him, had he been older and more able to understand, question his own worthiness. It might have, had he been older and more able to understand, might have made him shut down and feel isolated.
The Fairy Princess never wants that to happen to her son, so she has surrounded him, since birth, with people who all walk different paths. He is awash in the love and kindness of so many, that it gives him a confidence and an armor to go out into the world where he will, no doubt, hear this kind of question again – only not given so innocently.
The next time he hears it, it could be to belittle him, or used as a tool to make him leave a situation. The next time he hears it, it could be the prelude to violence – the thought of which keeps The Fairy Princess up at night, because no matter how safe you feel in America, a Person of Color – like any woman walking around the world anywhere, has to keep an awareness of personal safety that straight, white, cisgendered males do not.
This little girl was not, herself, being racist. She was trying to understand because in her daily life, and in the life her Parents have allowed her to enjoy – she does not, it is clear, encounter People of Color. No one has explained to her that the world is large, and that people come in all shapes and shades, and that love can be all manner of things to all manner of people. No one has shared with her the notion that there are questions that are inappropriate, or that just because someone looks different to you or acts different to you, it is not your ‘right’ to demand an answer for their existence.
This little girl and her question are why we need, at a young age, to be exposed to different peoples. Not just racially – there are people with disabilities, and people who love people of the same sex. There are people who come from cultures where facial tattoos are a right of passage, or people who have lost limbs to war. There are people who began life as one type of person and have found that they are another type of person. There are people who have weight issues, or people who have scars…there are so many different types of people in the world.
They all deserve to walk about the planet without having answers demanded of them, with no notice, from someone who only knows one type of world – even if the person asking is only five. Or six.
The Fairy Princess‘s answer to this little girl, who smiled so innocently while asking was brief, “Yes, he can see.”
The Fairy Princess‘s look at this little girl’s Mother, bikini clad in a Lily Pulitzer transparent cover up, standing outside the water but able to hear every word her daughter asked, said a bit more.
The little girl’s Mother pulled her out of the pool rather quickly, and, one hopes, took her home to give her a talk on the Diversity of the planet, perhaps she popped in a DVD of Disney’s Mulan or something to explain it further. Hopefully, this little girl’s Mother now realizes that what she is giving her child – confidence, charm, inquisitiveness – perhaps needs to be expanded by visiting museums, and venturing to other areas like New York City. Perhaps she will realize that she is doing her child, and my child, a disservice by presenting only one world view.
Perhaps she will not.
However, if our television screens continue to diversify, if our films continue to show different types of people, if our stages start to represent our entire populations – that little girl will have exposure to other peoples. No one will be ‘foreign’ to her, she will have seen a world that encompasses many things.
As she grows, if she sees Diversity, her questions will hopefully focus less on appearance and more on…oh, science or art or music or the environment or…there is so much more to focus on, when we all can just accept one another without demanding answers for another person’s existence, for when we stop asking why someone looks the way they look. Perhaps if she can stop with the questionable questions, she will be able to set about finding answers – to things like world peace, conservation, global warming, sex trafficking…that little girl seemed very bright, The Fairy Princess bets she could do it.
That is why Diversity matters, because lack of Diversity makes the conversation stop and focus only on one aspect, and there is so much more to see and do, than ask if Asian people can open their eyes.
The Fairy Princess hopes that, in hearing her child ask an Asian American child if they could see, that little girl’s Mother learned a lesson today too.
Because the next time, that Mother might get more than a look from The Fairy Princess, she might get an earful too.