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‘Star Wars’ actress Kelly Marie Tran writes op-ed addressing racist and sexist online harassment

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star wars rose ticoDisney/Lucasfilm

  • “The Last Jedi” actress Kelly Marie Tran wrote an op-ed
    published in The New York Times Tuesday addressing the online
    harassment she experienced for months.
  • Toxic Star Wars fans wrote racist and sexist comments
    on her social media accounts and in edits on Wookieepedia (a
    Wikipedia of sorts for “Star Wars”).
  • In the op-ed, Tran wrote that the hateful language led
    her “down a spiral of hate.”

In June, Kelly Marie Tran — who plays Rose Tico in “The Last
Jedi,” and is the the first woman of color to have a large role
in the Star Wars franchise — deleted
all of her Instagram posts after receiving online harassment for
months. Her account still existed, with “Afraid, but doing
it anyway
” written in the bio. 

Tran addressed the racist and sexist online harassment she
experienced in a powerful op-ed
published in The New York Times
on Tuesday. In the op-ed, she
wrote that the online harassment took her “down a spiral of self
hate.”

Tran faced racism and sexism online surrounding her casting in
“The Last Jedi.” For instance, in December
2017, someone
edited
 the Rose Tico Wookieepedia page (a
Wikipedia of sorts for “Star Wars”) 
so that her name
was “Ching Chong Wing Tong” and her home was “Ching Chong China.”

At San Diego Comic Con in July, Rose Tico cosplayers

rallied in support
of Tran. The rally was organized
by 
Nerds of
Color
, a site devoted to inclusion in nerd culture
including films like Star Wars, superhero movies, and video games
that is “not afraid to look at nerd/geek fandom with a culturally
critical eye.”

“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,”
Tran wrote. The op-ed addressed how the aggressive online
harassment made her feel. Tran also explained how feelings of
invalidation because of her gender and race were evident before
she became a target of “Star Wars” fans.

“Those words awakened something deep inside me — a feeling
I thought I had grown out of,” Tran wrote. Tran said that her
entire life, she’d felt like an “other” because she was Asian.
Through media and Hollywood (and more), she was taught that
because she was Asian, she existed in the margins: always
supporting characters played by more desirable people.

Tran also went into more detail about the dark period that the
words said to her online provoked.

“I thought, ‘Oh, maybe if I was thinner’ or ‘Maybe if I grow out
my hair’ and, worst of all, ‘Maybe if I wasn’t Asian.’ For
months, I went down a spiral of self-hate, into the darkest
recesses of my mind, places where I tore myself apart, where I
put their words above my own self-worth.”

Tran wrote that she wanted to live in a world where children of
color don’t grow up wishing they were white, a world
where women are not scrutinized.

“I want to live in a world where people of all races,
religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender
identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been:
human beings.”

Tran is not only the first woman of color to have a leading
role in a Star Wars movie: she is also the first Asian woman to
appear on the cover of Vanity Fair. 

“And I am just getting started,” she wrote.


Read the full op-ed here.

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