“13 Reasons Why” star Michele Selene Ang is trending for wearing a shirt, which reads “Scarlett & Emma & Tilda & Matt.” Here are 13 reasons why this shirt is important”

  1. Selene’s shirt serves as reminder of Hollywood’s whitewashing: Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell,” Emma Stone in “Aloha,” Tilda Swinton in “Doctor Strange” and Matt Damon in “The Great Wall.”
  2. It’s more than just a call out of those specific actors, but rather, the industry. It’s easy to place the blame on one person’s shoulders, when in reality there are producers, screenwriters, directors, casting agents, and studio executives behind each and every decision to place a white person into an Asian role.
  3. The style is in Helvetica List T-Shirts, a form that condenses the subject matter into simple, emblematic words. This requires a background knowledge of cultural references, establishing an immediate rapport between viewer and wearer (hopefully, everyone should know the context surrounding these four names).
  4. It’s trending. Props to designer Will Choi and marketing department. You can buy it here!
  5. It’s important to note that these four names are not the ONLY instances of white-washing. For just the tip of the iceberg, check out Refinery29’s list of past atrocities here.
  6. Remembering the inequities Asian American actors face in Hollywood is one way to prevent making the same mistakes in the future. It’s not as if there is a lack of Asians in Hollywood–it’s just that the creators of content aren’t looking beyond cookie-cutter White American.
  7. Some might argue that “race blind” casting is beneficial. However, it only works if the pool of actors is equally diverse across the board. Until then, “race blind” casting is not valid; Hollywood needs to work harder to tell the stories that are not being told.
  8. By denying Asians a voice, Hollywood essentially is denying our humanity. Our experience is validated when we see our stories on screen, on the stage, or on the page.
  9. What we see on screen can either expand or limit our imagination of what is possible for ourselves. If I see an Asian American female superhero uniting the Avengers and using her wits and powers to defeat the bad guys, I might start dreaming bigger (Marvel, jump on it).
  10. While it is awesome that Ang’s picture is trending, it’s also disappointing that we have not made much progress in terms of including Asians in film. We need more Asians like Ang to stand up and make our voices heard. Hopefully, pointing out white-washing becomes so common that there’s no need for resistance to go viral, because Hollywood has already heard us by then!
  11. We also need more Ang’s to do what they love to do–act, film, direct, create art. We need Asians in the room of creators.
  12. It’s a reminder to those with a voice and platform to speak out on important social issues. So many celebrities say silent in fear of negative consequences on their careers; props to Ang for speaking up.
  13. Who says Asian Americans aren’t activists? We have a long history of resisting unjust treatment in this country, and even today, actors like George Takei, Margaret Cho, and now Michele Selene Ang are speaking out against whitewashing and a number of other issues. Trust us, we are not your “model minority.”
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