“America is a melting pot” you often hear people say. Different cultures, religions, and ethnicities all living side by side to make up the diversity we see in our everyday lives. There is no one way to be “American.” Taking on this label could mean you’re an immigrant, or it could mean your family has lived here for generations. And while this identity encompasses many different perspectives, sometimes defining and taking ownership of that identity can be tricky. Beyond societal pressures to fit in with the majority and cultural standards for how to dress, eat, and behave, there are also institutional gatekeepers that police who can enter the country, and even who can call themselves a citizen. Despite the welcoming nature of our melting pot ethos, finding our place in this world can be a difficult task.
Our latest crowdfunding picks highlight how being different influences the way others define us, as well as how we define ourselves. All three of these stories offer a unique perspective on what it is like to be met with an unfamiliar culture, and how our family histories influence us.
Jackie Dallas’ “Proud,” another short, draws from her personal experiences of growing up in a town where she looked completely different from everyone else to detail the toll that takes on how you see yourself and your culture…
Being first or second generation American can often be a confusing experience. Usually, you’re growing up in a family with a cultural identity that is vastly different than the majority of your hometown. You’re constantly straddling an in-between where you don’t quite fit in on either side of the divide. “Proud” is a story that speaks to this experience and how the desire to feel accepted can affect your life in big ways.
“Proud” is about Lina, a young Asian woman taking a flight to the U.S. As with most stories, the focus in on the journey, not the destination. While Lina makes her way to America, we see that her identity is scrutinized in a variety of ways, inspiring us to consider what it’s like to move through a world that always sees you as different.
The film is written and directed by Jackie Dallas, and centers around many of her own experiences of growing up as a second generation Asian-American. Dallas was the only Asian girl in her entire elementary school. Other kids would call her “Jackie Chan,” making fun of her features. As Dallas puts it, “The film depicts normal, everyday encounters that ranged from innocent curiosity to malicious discrimination, and how these events lead me to initially reject my heritage before learning to embrace it.” In a world where we are still fighting for diversity on our television and movies screens, “Proud” is an important look at how the pressure to assimilate to the majority leads us to reject the parts of ourselves that should be celebrated. Representation matters, and this film is a wonderfully nuanced portrait of what it means to grow up feeling different.