Earlier this year Kelly Marie Tran deleted her social media presence after a wave of racist and harassing comments tied to her role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but now she’s back and has something important to say about the matter.
In an open letter published by the New York Times, Tran went into how the harassment affected her not just in this matter with Star Wars but her entire life as a woman and a person of color growing up in a society that always made her feel like an other. She vows in her letter to not give up,
It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them.
Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of color already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories.
And those words awakened something deep inside me — a feeling I thought I had grown out of. The same feeling I had when at 9, I stopped speaking Vietnamese altogether because I was tired of hearing other kids mock me. Or at 17, when at dinner with my white boyfriend and his family, I ordered a meal in perfect English, to the surprise of the waitress, who exclaimed, “Wow, it’s so cute that you have an exchange student!”
Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life: that I was “other,” that I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t good enough, simply because I wasn’t like them. And that feeling, I realize now, was, and is, shame, a shame for the things that made me different, a shame for the culture from which I came from. And to me, the most disappointing thing was that I felt it at all.
It’s a story that too many in society can relate to, a story that Tran, who ended the letter by using her given name of Loan Tran rather than her anglicized name, vows to help change.
“You might know me as Kelly. I am the first woman of color to have a leading role in a “Star Wars” movie. I am the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair. My real name is Loan. And I am just getting started.”
Read the full letter here, and spread the words.