On Mirrors, Doorways, and ‘Abominable’ Snowmen

As a multiracial Asian American parent raising multiracial Asian American daughters in a media landscape much different from the one in which I grew up, I often think about how the images and role models, both fictional and real, to which they have access may shape their imaginations, aspirations, and ideas of what is possible. The decades-long discourse around diversity, and the lack thereof, in children’s literature and media, often starts with the idea of the importance of mirrors in which children can see themselves, their worlds, and their life experiences reflected back to them, especially in the form of textual and multimedia representations both performed and created by people like them. But more and more, as my children get older and become able to both converse with texts as fans and critics and become creators and producers of texts in their own right, I find myself thinking about the need to go beyond reflective mirrors or even windows through which different possibilities may be glimpsed. We need doorways through which we can step to create new realities. This may seem a slight distinction, but it’s one whose importance I’m learning from my children day by day.

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‘Andi Mack,’ Children’s Television, and a Future in Full Color

A lot of people of color of my generation who are passionate about diversity and representation in the media tend to point to the media we consumed as children as the reason why — to the absences, omissions, and misrepresentations, and to the token presences we latched onto like lifelines. Today, our childhood experiences are ever-present motivators in our lives as fans, consumers, and creators in our own right, trying to redress past wrongs by ensuring the existence of the mirrors, windows, and doorways we were denied years before.

As a father watching contemporary media aimed at kids, tweens, and teens with my own tween and teen daughters, I’m slowly getting the hopeful feeling that their future will be different — or, if it isn’t, there will be hell to pay. That’s not to say that there isn’t vast room for improvement — we haven’t solved it, not by a long shot — but the energy, the diversity, the mere and sheer presence in the media world with which my children interact and which they take for granted as normal is so far from what we grew up with, and so close to what we wish the media landscape at large looked like, that I can’t help but be a little optimistic.

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To Black Parents Visiting Earth: Letter #2 (#WeHaveDiverseBooks)

In line with the book review I posted yesterday, I thought this piece by my wife (Janet Mendoza-Stickmon) over at Mutha Magazine would be the perfect companion.

As parents of color, especially Nerdy Parents of Color, it is so difficult to find books that reflect our children’s racial and cultural backgrounds, as well as other aspects of their social realities. Please read this, as well as Letter #1, to see some of the strategies we’ve taken to address this and other issues affecting our Children of Color. Continue reading “To Black Parents Visiting Earth: Letter #2 (#WeHaveDiverseBooks)”

The LEGO Movie’s Lessons for Raising NOCs-In-Training

I took my 9- and 5-year-old daughters to see The LEGO Movie on the second day it was out, and all three of us loved it. It is a true family film, one that can be enjoyed by different age groups at different levels — kids will love the humor, the action, that song they won’t stop singing once they get home, and, hey, it’s LEGO, while their parents will appreciate all the references to the kits and playsets of their childhoods, the inside jokes (ones that stick in my mind include the bearded fantasy wizard confusion, needy Green Lantern, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson playing parodies of their archetypal screen personas, and, of course, Batman and his song), and the amazingly detailed art and animation. It is also more subversive and heartwarming than you’d expect an hour-and-a-half-long corporate toy commercial could ever be.

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