Microagressions - Interview Transcript
Emi Lea Kamemoto: [00:00:00] you’re listening to strong Asian lead a podcast, exploring the Asian American landscape in Hollywood. I’m Emi Lea Kamemoto
Masami Moriya: and I’m Dave and Maria this week on strong agent lead . We are talking about microaggressions and call in culture. What are the differences between the two and do we get past them? How do we work with that in the workplace? When we feel discriminated against,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: we have to start speaking. We have to. Call people in call people out, combat and interrupt microaggressions as they’re happening or else they’re just going to keep happening.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. And microaggressions is one of those new terms. I feel like that’s a new phrase. that’s coming within the last couple of years with the push for diversity equity inclusion. , so Amy, tell us what are microaggressions and how did they come into the workplace?
Microaggressions are a tough one because if you aren’t aware of them, you have a very hard time understanding. wait, why don’t I feel so great when someone says something to me, [00:01:00] and one way I like to describe microaggressions, which is. an unpleasant view of it, but microaggressions can be like a death from a thousand paper cuts.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: They’re tiny, subtle, brief, but often occurring like unconscious messages that someone will say to a group of people or around an identity that discounts that person’s identity. so a few examples are like, don’t see color. That is a microaggression, because what you’re doing is you’re discounting the historical inequities that have occurred to people because of their race and their skin color.
where are you actually from? That’s something that as Asian Americans, we get all the time, right? where are you from? Where are you actually from like, who are you really? that also discredits your identity as an American. So when these microaggressions build up, they [00:02:00] become really problematic.
David, have you ever seen the video, the microaggression mosquito? You using diversity equity and inclusion trainings, to help people understand how microaggressions can build up an impact over time, but just like a mosquito bite. When you get a mosquito bite, one or two is not so bad, but when you have a ton of mosquito bites, suddenly your whole body goes into shock reaction, And you just feel really uncomfortable. And what. People who are the majority. And oftentimes like white folks don’t experience is that buildup of these little micro aggressive cuts, their identities, their experiences, their movements throughout the world are not questioned all the time. Why are you using chopsticks, et cetera, things like that.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. I’ve definitely had the question, where are you really from? then I say, California know where your parents from California, no, their parents, They don’t believe that. think what happens when I get those kinds of questions is, it’s in subconsciously it goes, say, you don’t believe me [00:03:00] I say something you don’t believe that I’m saying is true.
And. Sometimes those things are not out of, they’re not doing out of malice. I feel like generally you’re trying to be. Genuine they’re nervous to talk about race and , it becomes a place where if it happens in the workplace especially when it’s in that group of people when they’re experienced than I am.
And then I want to keep a good positive relationship with that person. Cause they might be that next ticket to the job. I don’t want to
Emi Lea Kamemoto: yeah.
Masami Moriya: Hey, that’s a, I don’t like that. And it makes them feel uncomfortable.
They might not want to work with me.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Great.
Masami Moriya: how do people, in the workplace Asian-Americans any person of color when you have a question like that? what are your best practices that we can do to alleviate that pain from ourselves while also helping coworkers understand that it’s not from a place of, I’m trying to hurt you or make you mad, but I have to stick up for my own self.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah you bring up an extremely important point [00:04:00] that. Describes the dilemma that microaggressions put people into microaggressions because they’re often subconscious from the person that’s perpetuating that microaggression. They don’t think that they’re, words are harmful, but this is where we really have to call in something that’s important.
the intention of your words. Does not equal the impact that they’re going to make. Just because your intention is good doesn’t mean that it gets received well. you don’t know if the person you’re asking, if you can touch their hair or that their hair is so cool, you don’t know what their experience has been being teased or bullied for their hair type.
and that can cut and really hurt them and really frustrate them. So I think it’s really important that not only the people who are experiencing microaggressions no. How to navigate these conversations, like what you’re asking right now. But the first step is for all of us to recognize that at some point in time, we have perpetuated a microaggression [00:05:00] and that we are often going to continue perpetuating microaggressions until we recognize what they are.
So I would say the first step is all of us need to look up what is a microaggression, what are examples of microaggressions so that we can start to see what damage we’re causing on the daily. And that will help us, if we do get called out for perpetuating microaggressions, help us be like, Ooh, okay.
You’re right. that was, if you’re experiencing this as a microaggression, I better take a minute and listen to you and think about what I said. when we were talking earlier, I mentioned that I’ve definitely said at some point in time, Oh, my colleague or my boss is so like crazy and emotional, And that was particularly if I’m referring to a female colleague is really harmful because of perpetuating this really awful stereotype.
That being emotional is bad in the workplace. And that it’s bad, especially, and it’s a trait that women have. , so it starts to degrade the identity of women in the workplace. So first step [00:06:00] is recognizing that we all perpetuate microaggressions and so we all have something we can do about it. I’d love to hear David.
what’s an example of a microaggression you’re experiencing, can you walk us through the emotions that you felt.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. this past year I was on basically my first job back in Hollywood and I was talking to a friend and he was just casual. He’s a cool dude. And he said, what’s your ethnicity? What’s your background? And I’m Japanese-American, he said, you’re dark for a Japanese.
okay. I’m not going to make a ruckus out of this. I’m like, yeah, no, I’m Japanese just move on.
Masami Moriya: And because I knew if I said something we’re all in an open area workplace. Like I started saying something likethat’s Japanese or farmers they’re dark.
My mind ran through a ton of different things that I knew were That I want to stick up for myself and correct them, I knew if I had done that I get some looks at me. he’s being difficult. who would want hire him again, if he’s going to up stuff like that,
I’m in a group of white [00:07:00] coworkers, I couldn’t do anything. And that’s how I felt, That was the most recent thing that had happened to me because I understand how it impacted me and that they should know how it impacts me.
I also understand their intent. And I’m only going to take it at its intention. it’s more about how they said it.
And so I understand, but I am also very tired of. Having to comply and say, okay, that was their intention. And it was just fine. Okay. I just want them to stop doing that. I want them to stop perpetuating these microaggressions and saying things that are against my skin color, slanted, my eyes, anything like that, like it sounds so I’m being judged for those things. just wanted to stop. I think a lot of people want it to stop. Like when we just, you get pointed out and then you don’t have as an Asian-American, you don’t have any Asians in the room to back you up. So if you did fight about it and I’m like no, I agree with him. no, one’s there to help you with that.
And so that’s what issues I see in the workplace, for Asian Americans. And it happens all the time and you can’t [00:08:00] combat it. So it’s a really, it’s a really big juggle we want to. Call, in that’s what happens in the workplace and Asians, don’t get to talk about it because we just want to move on.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: , you use a crucial word right there, and we’ve said it a few times in this podcast before, but calling in there is a difference between calling out and calling in someone, calling out is something you can do. It’s an action that you can take to say, Hey, that wasn’t cool.
Like that perpetuates a microaggression. And it’s problematic. It’s harmful. That’s a call-out. You just state that there with what we have to understand is that we can’t just call out without reflecting, taking a moment to reflect what the power dynamics are in the room. Usually the only people who can call out are bystanders that are not having that microaggression perpetuated against them.
They also typically have to be people who have power, right? So if your boss calls out somebody else. They’re not going to get in trouble, right? They’re the boss. But if [00:09:00] it was another assistant, I was like, Hey boss, like that, wasn’t okay. Their role, their job is at risk. And we want to be really conscious about the fact that we’re in the middle of the pandemic and people can’t afford to lose their jobs.
So one of the things that we’ve taught, I’ve been taught in diversity equity and inclusion trainings around microaggressions, and that I teach my clients as well as the first thing we need to do is. Take a minute to pause, observe the situation who has power in the room. What is your role? Are you a bystander?
Are you the person that’s having that microaggression done to you emotionally? How are you feeling? Would you come in hot right now? If you had to respond would you be mad and angry or would you just be silent? Take a moment to reflect on all of these things and then decide, what are you going to utilize?
Which tool are you going to use it? The call-in or the call-out. So I mentioned a call out is a very direct Hey, that was wrong. A call in is a way to invite someone into a closer conversation that can take place in front [00:10:00] of a group. But as you mentioned, in an open air workspace, like you don’t necessarily want to draw attention, make the person who’s perpetuated that microaggression feel dumb, right?
That’s not good. Goal that’s going to make them defensive. So there’s an opportunity that after that conversation to call them in and say, Hey, I just want to call you in on something that you said earlier that I think perpetuates microaggressions. And in that, in your example, too, you can share, I understand that your intent isn’t to harm anybody by your comment about the, how Brown I am, but.
I do want to just call in that this actually can has impacted the Asian American community and it really negative way. The colorism within our community, , creates problems where there’s like a a stratification that the darker you are, the less worthy you are the less valuable, because you’re seen as a hard working class person versus the crystal light-skin of the royalty.
And then that becomes a teaching moment.
Masami Moriya: Yeah.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: but if a [00:11:00] column becomes a teaching moment, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be the teacher every time microaggression occurs. But if we want to stop microaggressions, we need to get comfortable saying, Hey, can we talk about this and move forward?
And some of the lines that I particularly like to use are. No. I want to ask you about something you said earlier when you mentioned that, I looked, Brown for a Japanese person. What did you mean by that comment? what does the color of a Japanese person mean to you? And you come in with curiosity and usually it makes them fumbling and they’re like, Oh, I realized like that wasn’t really a cool thing to say, but maybe there is something that you both can learn from that conversation.
And then. A more like direct way to state it is there something about my identity that made you say that or made you feel comfortable in saying that in that moment, because they perpetuates a microaggression. so having some of these lines in your [00:12:00] back pocket, when you experience a microaggression can be helpful to interrupting them, but you, first of all, really do want to take a minute to observe and pause and think Okay.
Is my job going to be on the line? If I say something, how does this person respond to feedback? Do I have a relationship with them where I could call them aside? And if I don’t have that relationship, maybe I can seek an ally. Maybe there’s somebody else that can help me talk through it.
okay. So let’s say we’re in the same situation you’ve
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: You give me this line of, what’d you mean by that comment? I call you in on that. It’s then they respond. Oh no, I was just making a joke that it’s just a joke. Can you just take a joke. It’s just a joke.
That one, we get all a lot. where do you come from? where do you stand on that? How do you the next follow-up.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: My next up is kind of intense. So this is when people can leave our take. But I will usually say. your joke is something that perpetuates a bias against people of my identity. So it may be a joke [00:13:00] to you, but after a lot of buildup, this impacts the perception that people have around people of my identity.
And usually I’ll mention that. There is a five step path to genocide within people and within communities. The first step is language changing. The language that we have about people helps us de-humanize them. For example, calling jobs, chink calling like the Jews, the way that they’ve been treated in the way that we’re talked about in Germany.
Led to this mass dehumanization of Jewish people and thus. Crazy huge complicit, narrative amongst Germany that allowed for the Holocaust to take place. So it may seem extreme to people that your language about an identity or your perpetuation of microaggressions could lead to genocide, but it has happened.
It is always, language is always the first tool that’s used to dehumanize a community and [00:14:00] thus make it easier for them to be killed. So usually I’ll go that extreme because I’m in this line of work.
Masami Moriya: see, I like that extremeness. I like, I need that upfrontness, but here’s my the next phase aggressive tactics. What’s with all this race. I just don’t want to see race anymore. It’s really tiring. I, this is, we are diverse. Don’t you see you’re in this place?
Can’t you just leave race at the door.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Oh, my God. Yes. That is also in itself. A direct microaggression. I don’t see color. I don’t understand why we keep talking about race. If we stopped talking about race, we wouldn’t have racism anymore.
didn’t the civil rights. We have the civil rights in the sixties. We ended racism back then. Anyway,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Oh, it’s gone. It’s completely gone. We know we don’t have any problems.
Masami Moriya: we’re It’s 2020 get with the times.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Oh, my gosh. luckily, most people can’t even say we’re good as 2020, just point blank. Because 2020 has been such a shit show, but I thank you for calling that one in, because that is a great [00:15:00] example of people who refuse to see the equity issue.
So having a space that has many different identities represented inclusion means that every single identity that is represented is valued and respected, that they are treated not quite, not exactly like the same, but with value and respect. We don’t want everybody to be treated poorly.
We don’t want everybody to just be treated the same, but treated with value and respect. Equity is the acknowledgement that there has been systemic and historical injustice that has allowed certain types of people to rise and others to be kept back by a system by redlining, by an equal pay by lack of parental leave rights, et cetera.
When people say that, Oh, isn’t racism over aren’t we fine. I just want to check racism at the door. Usually I’ll say something like that would be wonderful if we could do that. But we [00:16:00] have a lot of years of terrible history that has made injustice. And a part of everything that like is in our system, it’s embedded.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: We have to acknowledge that there are inequities here that allow you Brad to Xcel without needing to be challenged. People will. Give you opportunities because of your identity. and this is an opportunity for you to acknowledge that people
we’ll take away opportunities because they have some misconception or stereotype about that type of people. Which honestly can become a little difficult with the model minority myth, right? Because people are like, Oh, Asians are so hardworking. They produce so much, they are very subservient. Those are some of the model minority myths that you would think would mean Oh, let’s hire the Asian people, [00:17:00] but that doesn’t.
Correlate at all, because if that was the case, we would see the same number of Asian CEOs in our country as white CEOs, model minority myth is in fact a myth. and it’s conveniently used to just pit people of color against each other for us to think, Oh, for Asians to think, Oh, we’re better than other people of color.
And then for other people of color to be like, Oh, those Asians, they’re basically white. basically have all the same privileges.
and the laws back in the early 19 hundreds, that’s what they were for one point, Asians were considered white, that was in the law, and then it changed that Asians are not white. Why did the law change? Like that kind of stuff was like outstanding to see like which who can become citizens or not.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah. And those were like one-off cases. We had the Sikh. American man who said that he wanted to become white on his identity card, no longer agent. And he won that case. There are multiple [00:18:00] cases of Asians winning the whiteness case, which has perpetuated and made this legal grounds.
Masami Moriya: they’re born in America and they were the 14th amendment. They had all the rights as the citizens, but they described them as not white. they weren’t given the same legal counsel and they weren’t given did not win those cases.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: those are the things that happen they’re because labels are put onto each other.
even though the law has changed Hollywood has changed because we had this whole period of white Hollywood was the beginning of all of Hollywood, basically. And so who are they going to hire their friends? And if they’re
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yep.
Masami Moriya: with people of color, they’re not hiring those people.
And then we get to the nineties where you get, independent films. Okay. So only people can make independent films is if you had money, you have Kevin Smith who put everything in $27,000 on credit cards, who has that? and then it keeps going and then we have to have this diversity.
Inclusion policy. And then you’re like now I don’t want to have to hire somebody. It’s taking away jobs from white people. Okay Hollywood is [00:19:00] always going to be of jobs. never, it’s never ending job, even if there’s a finite number today, tomorrow, there’s a new set. it’s always going to be else.
It’s that whole affirmative action, policy and around like people go and say you’re taking away stuff from Asians. I’m like, no, you’re not like it’s including other people. It’s you’re not going to. Take away jobs from becauseyou’re adding diversity. You want add those things. Like you have to think about almost the benefits of adding other perspectives getting there, because you will need that.
You need that in Hollywood, you need, where are they coming from? if you’re telling a story, you can’t just have white people telling a black story, an Asian story or Muslim story. Like it’s not going to work. You’re going to get a lot of flack.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Hollywood should be making the newest stories, Stories that people have never heard before that have not been produced by Hollywood before. And those stories are going to come from other places, but they should come from other places without being appropriated. [00:20:00] Like Saigon gardens, the movie Saigon gardens.
Is that, what is it?
Masami Moriya: is that the war one
with Ms. Chris Pratt?
Emi Lea Kamemoto: yeah. Chris palette and. That’s a remake of a Vietnamese movie that was created. And there’s no reason why that movie has to store a white actor in Hollywood. There are plenty of Asian actors and Vietnamese American actors that could play in this movie. But there is this limited scarcity mindset that we have to.
Utilize the same formulas that have made money for us in the past. There’s this fear that breaking that mold will mean that the movies will fail. And that’s where I questioned the soul of Hollywood. Do you only seek to make movies to make money? Part of me knows the answer is yes for many people, but.
This is the space that you and I get to bring to the table. What would [00:21:00] it look like to make films that have a positive social impact that make the world a better place and have Hollywood take that full responsibility?
Masami Moriya: And I feel like we’ve definitely ventured back into representation world. how do micro lead to a lack of representation?
Emi Lea Kamemoto: The example that you brought up, David is actually one of the exact. Ways that microaggressions can lead to a lack of representation, your experience, and my own experience in this industry. Having been microaggressed means that we step out of a set or a boardroom or a, an executive meeting with a paper cut on our arm that suddenly something was said, In the meeting that diminish our value.
One of the examples that I’ve heard a lot is someone interrupts you and says actually I think, and speaks over you indicating that they think their words are more valuable than yours. And usually it’s based on some identity factory though. You’re a [00:22:00] woman or you’re Asian, something like that. you walk out of there.
Suddenly your value has been diminished in the eyes of everybody around you. And you’re walking around with a paper cut and you feel conflicted. You’re like, I want to say something, but I don’t know if I can say something and that perpetuates eventually as those microaggressions keep happening more and more paper cuts.
You start to bleed out death by a thousand paper cuts means that it gets extremely tiring. To have to laugh off microaggressions and be like, ha yeah, that’s not cool, but I can’t say anything. And eventually it leads to a really large turnover in the industry. Of people of color microaggressions can lead to burnout, direct correlation of increase in microaggressions, increase in burnout, meaning that people will leave the industry for spaces in which they don’t have to experience that.
I think that we. Need to create spaces within entertainment that we can come together, share experiences with microaggressions, share [00:23:00] our tools and tips and navigating them and how to interrupt them in those moments. But we also need, on the other hand, like corporate environments, studios, directors, writers, producers, managers, we need them all to start taking.
Responsibility for micro aggressive tendencies and understanding what they are, because you’re going to lose talent by allowing microaggressions to exist. In your environments and we, as people of color within the industry will face extreme amounts of burnout from this. And I don’t think it’s helpful. to have burnout and then just, have this Japanese slash Japanese American mindset of gamma, which is I’m going to be resilient.
I’m just going to keep pushing through. I’m going to ignore all the microaggressions because that doesn’t actually make any waves of change behind you. It means that microaggressions are going to keep perpetuating and somebody else is going to have to hit that wall behind you.
Masami Moriya: I feel that burnout. I think that’s part of the reason why I left Hollywood [00:24:00] in the first place. Cause I was like, I don’t want to go to Hollywood. I was after college, I could, I had a choice. I can go to Hollywood, do the LA thing or I can go somewhere else.
And I was like, I don’t see myself every time I go to an Asian set, they’re talking about being Asian and . Accentuating, I guess that’s the word because I get there, you’re playing on the stereotypes, accent there, but they’re Asian representation, but they’re just doing it themselves. So we’re still making fun Asians, but we, at least we have Asians doing it.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah. my communities of color, can we like microaggressed the shit out of ourselves,
especially Asians. I knew that was like one of my main deflection strategies to help other people of color and other white people feel comfortable around me. I would make jokes about chopsticks andbeing good or bad at math.
And I thought it was okay. I was like, Oh, but I’m making it about my own identity and myself, but it becomes a reality. That’s where [00:25:00] stereotype threat comes in. Like we start talking about these stereotypes, we keep elevating them. And that becomes the perception that people walk away with all Asians have, the ability to use chopsticks really well or that they’re all.
Smart, nerdy doctors, et cetera. Why can’t we just break this narrative? We limit ourselves with that narrative and don’t challenge ourselves to imagine what we can be, what we actually,
Masami Moriya: start making fun of ourselves. We’re degrading our own culture.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: yeah.
Masami Moriya: grading the identity this is the funny thing about it and not having to do it.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: And that it’s not normal when it is normal for a majority of the world. If you’re Asian,
Masami Moriya: Yeah.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: of the world is Asian. But one of the negative impacts of microaggressions is that very emotional impact that. We experience of our identities, not feeling valued, being unable to believe in yourself as a whole person, because constantly wherever you go, your identity is questioned.
We’ve spoken about the mixed race [00:26:00] identity, and I can speak from having that identity, that being asked, what are you. Every damn day, essentially starts making me think that I am not human. I am not good enough as I am. And so that impacts my confidence. It impacts the way I can walk through the world the way I’ll walk into a pitch meeting.
And that is another very bad effect of microaggressions. Is that. Our confidence is not, our identities are not so that we feel like we have to put on a different skin or different identity. When we walk into the room, instead of representing who we truly are, and people can sniff that in authenticity.
And thus, they may not want it. Invest in those projects, they may not want to invest in you as somebody who’s coming into your company. But if you walk into the room with your swagger, with your pride being like, I am emulate Cami, Moto, I am Japanese and I am American. My mixed race and bicultural identity means that I can [00:27:00] understand many different perspectives and this is how it impacts your work positively.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Then they start to see the value in my mixed race identity, And I want to communicate that to them, but it’s taken me years of undoing the effect that microaggressions and overt and covert racism has had upon my life to be able to get to that point.
Masami Moriya: it’s like this weird. Triple sword that you don’t want to have to be as your race. You want to be identified as your work and who you are as a So you push it aside, but then people ask you, what are you? then you’re like, okay, now I have to bring it back. And then they, then we give it to them and they’re like, why you have to make it about race?
Like you made it about race first. And then, but the same time, we wield that sword. So as long as we used to go and say, is who I am, you’re hiring me because of this, you need my expertise in Japanese American culture or [00:28:00] Japanese culture, or in these things like I’m owning that. I’m owning that an Asian I’m Asian-American, I’m old, I’m generally only going to apply to Asian-American things.
I’m only I’m going to do these things for my culture. It’s helped me get further in my career to own my Asian-American this than it is to hide it. a hide. It I’m going into spaces that they don’t see me as Asian American. They just want to meet your work. me the microaggressions. I get burned out.
I do work hard. They like, they do bring it back. They don’t, feel like they’re damned because we need to hire an Asian. just, they are bringing me for work ethic, but. When I go to Asian-American spaces and I see other Asians and I’m like, this is the place where I need to be.
We can always talk about the things that are happening. see each other, we know what the differences in the issue in the industry. we’re under, we’re at an understanding. And so we can move forward from that. And then when we go into say, I’m Japanese, you’re Chinese what’s your background.
Like I meet people on Twitter, in the film industry I’ll see [00:29:00] something that’s very specific. I’m like, tell me more about that. And they’ll tell me a whole story.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: I think that diversity is a place where we’re getting to, but we will not get to diversity. Without having spaces for us to come together with our own identity, because we don’t even have to, as you mentioned, we don’t have to worry about that racism coming in the same way. We can be our full selves.
We will feel energized in those environments. And I don’t know if anybody in our audience has experienced this, or if you’ve experienced this, like when you walk into a room and you feel like you can be yourself, don’t you gotta produce more. Aren’t you more energetic and like amazing.
Masami Moriya: I don’t feel like I have to impress people,
and you don’t have to act a certain way. It’s like the code switching back to normal.
Rather than I have to you so I can get a job. it’s a weird thing and it shouldn’t happen anyways, but it happens.
because belonging is a factor of our happiness as human beings. And we belong in places where we find there’s an affinity. There’s a [00:30:00] lived experience that is common. And right now America is in a real reckoning. Again, that we have been ignoring our. Commonalities and really focusing on our differences so much that we are now unable to find common ground, like even amongst our own groups and identities.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: And so I think that it’s important for us to take the time to be in a space where we remember what belonging feels like so that we can bring that feeling belonging to other spaces as well. And I want us to all walk through the world. Okay. I’ll just say it. I want us all to walk through the world.
White men do feeling like they belong and that they have the right to be in every single space without ducking their shoulders or being subservient or, those are some of the things that we as Asian Americans like battle against, but I want everybody to feel that same unabashed, pride and comfort in their own identity.
So let’s keep [00:31:00] practicing that in our affinity spaces. That’s like why Strong Asian Lead exists is to build the table from which all of us have a seat. Every Asian American, every Asian person in this industry has a seat that’s waiting for them. That they can just take at any point in time. And somebody will be like, yo, where you
been? You belong here. We’ve been waiting for you. Not, they come and sit at the table and everybody looks at them and whispers like, what are they doing?
Masami Moriya: Yeah.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: diversity? Oh my fucking God. Yes.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. Diversity of hire is a huge thing and people think, diversity hire great. We have a spot at the table, like made for us to do something, but the writer’s rooms think of it
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: this is a chore.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yep.
Masami Moriya: that spot because they beat all the other diversities, they don’t writers’ rooms. Don’t think of that
Emi Lea Kamemoto: But,
Masami Moriya: as a real hire because they’re not paying the diverse writer for them. It’s not from the production company.
It’s from whatever agency gave them that seat.
You get [00:32:00] hired on for a year. let’s say you’re on a, you’re going on the second season.
If you want to keep that diversity hire on, you have to pay them out of production
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah. Money that you haven’t budgeted.
So most of the time they just kick you off and get another diversity hire because not having to pay for that person.
Ooh. You’re calling in one of the solutions, You’re calling out and calling in one of these diversity equity and inclusion solutions that have been created. Like I, that’s a really delicate and important conversation to have What happens when we try to improve the diversity of Hollywood by creating more seats, by creating more accessibility, does that really work?
Emi Lea Kamemoto: If the receiving end, like the productions that receive people for their productions, doesn’t also have those values, embedded, like it, if there is also additional training for this production saying This is the value that this person brings to [00:33:00] your production, this particular person, not this identity group, Then maybe that person would get hired on for the second year. Realizing because someone was able to communicate on behalf of the individual that was hired. We are putting this person in your production because they are the best for this job. They know the most about this. They are going to help you do XYZ.
You should really keep them on. That is like a key part that I don’t think a lot of diversity equity and inclusion programs that place people like that are taking the extra step to do.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. Now it makes me question. Who’s running those diversity equity inclusion spaces. It sounds like performative action activism. Like they’re not really doing it. They’re putting a little band-aid on it saying
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah,
Masami Moriya: but they’re not actually following through to really fix the problem.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: exactly.
Masami Moriya: probably don’t think it’s their issue to fix. But they’re a part of the system.
It’s actually like one of the dilemmas with microaggressions and being a bystander to them where you’re like, I don’t know if I should, it’s my place to say [00:34:00] anything. We see that throughout this industry, whether it’s on an individual basis, in a room where microaggression is taking place, or even in.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Being a part of the solution for programs that place people from different identity factors and experiences into productions. They’re also not necessarily taking the responsibility of really holding this industry to a higher standard of inclusion of belonging and saying we’re going to put these people into places and give access that wasn’t there before.
But without really following through and making sure that the industry as a whole is not just taking and using and tossing the folks that become the quote unquote diversity hires.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. And actually including them. And making sure that they’re included in the conversation. If they’re not saying something, ask them. it’s not necessarily your job as a show runner to ask them. And it’s your job as a writer to pitch things. if [00:35:00] they’re not saying something, as a leader, think it’s important bringing them into the conversation? That’s the inclusion part? Like making them feel included in the conversation.
I definitely been in spaces where I can still feel like I’m belonging. I’m glad to come to the table, but I’m not allowed to say anything.
And I don’t know if I
Emi Lea Kamemoto: okay.
Masami Moriya: should have said anything, but I’m glad I did. And I just, I’m going to take my job. I’m going to do the whole thing. Cause I think this is a good idea. Or we can fix it this way and they’re going to take it. He ended up snooping me for two months worth of money, at the same time,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Cool.
Masami Moriya: like I’m going to do my thing.
As I was quitting, he was like, you’re a good director. Don’t let that, don’t let that get away from you. So
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Nope.
Masami Moriya: you think
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah. So was like playing the tools of the industry, where they will withhold money thinking that the experiences is more valuable. And for some people that is the case, but everybody needs to be given that chance. And I think what, going back to what you earlier said earlier, The people who say, Oh, why don’t we just leave racism at the door?
They are not [00:36:00] acknowledging that those chances are given way more often to particularly white men within the industry, without them showing that they have the capability. To handle those experiences or those opportunities. And they’re being withheld from other people because there is that there’s either bias stereotypes, racism, or there just aren’t enough people representing that identity that have been successful in the industry because the Gates have been closed for so damn long.
Masami Moriya: I’ve been seeing it. I will have white friends who will get their productions, made their full feature films for a hundred thousand dollars.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: yeah.
Masami Moriya: think that’s great that they made it. I think it’s a
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Great.
Masami Moriya: to in the work to do it. But investors and producers, they want to know that their return on investment going to be greater than their investment. but what we’re seeing is that indie directors and creatives are getting [00:37:00] invested money into them to make their first feature films and their feature films flop.
Then they can get a second option for their next script. in more money to that. And we don’t know if it’s going to flop or not. But they’re still getting the recognition. They’re getting the option. They’re getting some investment to come into it,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Because they have a railroad track of success that they’re already on,
Masami Moriya: my thing is like they got their first one and they failed agents. Don’t get the first one. Because Asian and entertainment. Investors are so far. And few, they’re not going to see the empathy but why people are going to say no one wants to hear that story.
Cause I don’t really care about that story. And it doesn’t respond to me. It’s not going to respond to you. It’s supposed to, it’s not for you. It’s for the Asians, there’s not enough wealthy Asian Americans in the entertainment space and it’s only. Hollywood gatekeepers and white Hollywood producers, managers, agents, all those people who are then saying it doesn’t resonate with me enough.
So I’m going to pass.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: yeah.
Masami Moriya: get our chance to fail. White people, get a chance to fail all the time, matter what, and fail and [00:38:00] be a Dick about it. Like seen people who come on and says, I’m like, an asshole.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Andrew still in this industry and still successful.
Masami Moriya: why did that keep happening? agents aren’t getting the
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: as much.
And I believe it’s because the representation in who they’ve worked with before and who they see on screen, all they see on screen are generally stereotypes.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: people when you come to work and you’re not funny, then what am I supposed to do with you?
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah. Oh my God. That’s exactly it. And that’s why we need to stop perpetuating microaggressions within our own community. We need to stop playing into tropes of identity and try to figure out who are we really. As Asian-Americans as a human being. Who am I? And how do I fully represent myself on set in a meeting room, in a studio?
Like, how do I be me authentically Asian-American because that’s a place that we haven’t as Asian-Americans that exploration is something that’s. Had a rise in the sixties and seventies with the [00:39:00] increase in Asian-American studies and identity, but I’m writing letters to my university in 2020 to finally get an Asian American studies program put into my college, which I will never get to benefit from, but I hope that other Asian Americans do so that they can see themselves be of value.
So that like when we’re not given the chance, we can say, Hey. Are you not giving me a chance because you’ve never seen an Asian American do this before. And studios on the other hand, need to start asking themselves as well, are we making our selections and our choices because this person has this sort of person has been successful before?
Are we denying other people opportunities by re rinsing and reusing the same? Tired remake of Spider-Man. As I have mentioned before.
Masami Moriya: using the same directors that they’ve used before, even the age. Even in the Asian space, like using the same directors and the writers that have made success. But when they you hire an Asian? And they go, they [00:40:00] don’t do very well. They don’t get rehired,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yes.
Masami Moriya: get rehired all the time?
Just cause they’ll give them another chance. It’s Oh, we hired an Asian once and it failed.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Failed. And so we can’t ever hire an Asian again, which is ridiculous. Not all Asians are the same, not all black people are the same, not all Latinate people are the same. And it blows my mind. I, one example that I like to bring up in working context is networking in this industry. Oftentimes people are given their first opportunities because somebody in power says to another person in power.
Hey, my kid needs an internship. If you give my kid an internship, I will pass that brief by my boss. And we might be able to represent you some way. There’s a favor for a favor to people with power exchanging favors later when said child of person in power. Totally screw something [00:41:00] up. There’s a conversation about it.
Be like your child really screwed this one up and then they laugh about it. But if it was a black person or an Asian person or a Latin, a person or somebody with a different ability status, indigenous that screwed up. Suddenly they represent their whole identity of people and then another Asian person, black person, indigenous person with a disability.
They’re never hired again for that.
Masami Moriya: No, I feel like that’s got to be some sort of bias that once happened to me. So I’m never gonna happen again. That happened to you once. Have you ever talked to how many people have you talked to?
Do all agents act the same? No, some of these things, you’re just thinking. You’re going off feeling rather than actually looking at facts, looking at it from their perspective, account individual by individual.
You can’t just take all the agents and say this one failed. we don’t do that anymore.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: It’s the stupid, simplistic bias [00:42:00] quote, unquote, easy. One-stop answer to all of our problems,
Masami Moriya: and all sorts of
Emi Lea Kamemoto: it’s extreme.
Masami Moriya: said, when the president’s going say they’re bringing in the drugs, they’re the gangsters, they’re the rapist and all these things, he’s perpetuating that fear. then the people will think, Oh, he’s smart. He’s now the presence.
So he must know all the information. They think it’s true. And that’s the same stuff that happens in Hollywood. you present the stereotypes, you say they’re hardworking, they’re broken accents, they’re all these things. And you say, Oh, your English is so good. Where’d you learn it?
Emi Lea Kamemoto: did
Masami Moriya: Spanish is better than my Japanese. Like have. Yeah. what Hollywood has seen us as. And that’s what they portrayed us as on TV. So then when they, when people watch it in their years, then they get into Hollywood. That’s what they think of people of color.
So when you work with them, especially if they come from the suburbs, they don’t come from my of of diverse backgrounds, they come to the industry thinking that’s how it goes. And they’ve only seen white people on the screens do well. [00:43:00] You’ve only seen white directors do well.
And so that’s all they think that we’re capable of. And so it perpetuates this thing of, they’re not worth the risk.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Holly would be so incredible if we all entered it and suspended our disbelief and suspended our biases and thought. Here’s a place where anything and everything is possible where we really embodied those values. And we gave people opportunities and chances because they could make an incredible story.
I know our world is so far away from that, but I wish it would just be baked into the protocol where if you’re in Hollywood in the first few days, somebody was like, welcome to Hollywood , please acknowledge that everything that you’ve learned about the world has had some shade of bias has had some shade of influence that makes you think in a limited way.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: But here in Hollywood, we are breaking away from our limitations because we’re doing incredible things that blow people’s minds and keeps them coming [00:44:00] back for more. if we started embracing that in the culture of Hollywood, People would start to see the value of all of this diversity, the value of innovation that comes from different ideas.
The tech world has started to do that, and we see the difference in the diversity in the tech space and the lack of diversity in Hollywood.
Masami Moriya: you’re embrace that this person
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Perfect.
Masami Moriya: when embrace this, person’s like color any, anything that’s different than you, anything, and everybody is different than you. Let’s just be, in fact, everybody is different than you. It should just be a norm that norm, that know anything about this person.
So don’t put anything on this person that you heard from somebody else.
When I’ve met a person and I’ve heard shit talk about them, I’d taken it as a very small grain of salt say that hasn’t happened to me. don’t know who
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yep.
Masami Moriya: is to me. So I’m not going to, until that person does something to me that I don’t like, I’m not going to put anything that somebody else told me about them on it.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: And the that’s beautiful. It, we, as human [00:45:00] beings have stepped away from that. And I think that one extra step that we can add to this is acknowledging that we all have subconscious biases. We are human beings. We created subconscious biases to protect us right back in the flight or fight days of our ancestors.
We had to make quick connections with the information that was coming at us to tell us what was dangerous and what was safe. And that has perpetuated into the subconscious biases that we have today. whether it’s. I know that I have a subconscious bias against men, because if I’m walking alone at night, I’m going to be hyper aware of any man that might be around me because I’m trying to keep myself safe.
So I’m, I’m bringing this example in because we, as people of color also have subconscious bias against white folks or against types of people, even within our own communities. For our safety, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine that’s black and. He said, like I have to, in my [00:46:00] life, I’ve moved through life thinking that white people might try to do something to me that might harm me so that I can stay aware and not be tricked hurt, or potentially killed by somebody that’s white.
And that’s a really sad reality that we also have to juxtapose all of our conversations around diversity. there’s like a level of. Privilege in that I feel in my identity as a mixed race, white and Asian person, that I’m not going to be physically harmed for my identity in this day in time. So I can give that grace to other people.
Like I will let you tell me who you are and I will not come with a preconceived judgment about you because I feel safe in my identity. In this space and time, and that’s a privilege and not all communities of color, not all Asian-Americans feel that same level of comfort. So if you’re listening to this, like we, we want to hear from you what your experiences have been, where you’re like, Oh, I actually have to move through [00:47:00] life with my bias against.
Majority power men, et cetera, to keep myself safe because like we have to start having these really quite uncomfortable conversations in order to call each other in on our biases and be able to work through them and come to a bigger understanding of one another.
we limit ourselves in our identity and not everybody does this, but because we’re used to the tropes and information that we get about types of people through entertainment. We start expecting that of one another.
We start expecting that of ourselves and you and I have shared this common experience of needing to be perfect, needing to overwork, be the hardest worker in the room because that’s pressed upon us for our Japanese identities.
Masami Moriya: It makes me feel like I have to prove myself.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: myself that’s in. also includes me speaking up a little
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Cool.
Masami Moriya: because I could be that Japanese who doesn’t say anything and just does my work. If I’m going to move up [00:48:00] and do something, I’m going to speak up.
going to take that confidence and go, what about this? What about that? try things, do things. I like this. a solution, do something. I have that energy and I will push that. Cause that’s a part of me,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: That’s just who you
Masami Moriya: Asians who don’t, who aren’t like that. that’s something to understand as well, Asian kids, how to try to prove to their parents with their parents. Just always just call them stupid they’re not enough. So they don’t try to answer and sound stupid. So they don’t want to sound, make stupid. answers. So they avoid the question and you don’t say anything they don’t want to be a burden, or they want people like, I do this a lot.
A lot of times I let people go first and it was a huge group of people. let them all go first before me, and then I want to go and then the meeting’s over and then I’ll stand up and Hey, I wanted to say something now you’re all leaving. okay. So one, I feel like that is on me a little bit to be okay.
I did let everybody go first. I should just have that confidence the same time [00:49:00] as anybody who’s in a leader space, like a show runner or a director, if someone’s not saying anything. Especially in a writer’s room where everybody’s supposed to say something, ask them that is the inclusion part.
And I keep using, I don’t know if we’ve, we haven’t used this analogy in this podcast yet is the diversity is inviting people of color to your party, but inclusion is include them to dance with you and say, Hey, come dance with us, do the thing . That’s the inclusion part.
And. I’m making this one up right here is like the equity part is to say, you don’t know how to dance let me teach you how to dance instead of going you don’t know how it has this person doesn’t know how to dance.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: David. That’s a really good, Oh my gosh. That’s exactly it. That’s equity.
Teaching them how to dance and acknowledging that there may be a difference and not judging them for that difference.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. Or yeah, if the, if they can’t dance for whatever ability or that might, they might have like finding a way to get, to include that, [00:50:00] to get them to do it don’t shun somebody else out we’re all in this together.
There’s no reason to exclude anybody for anything.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: That’s
a really good example of why, where even an example that’s often used in diversity equity inclusion, the dancing analogies. That’s a very abelist. Comment because not everybody can dance. And I would also add that belonging, right? We like, we loved it for a city. We love equity. We love inclusion.
But what I think is the most natural and best place we can ever be is when we feel like we belong and belonging would be not only being invited to the dance, being asked to dance and being taught how to dance, but being told like, You already have a spot in this dance, like if you’re doing a square dance or the dosey DOE like there’s an open position for you and we’re ready for you.
We can’t wait to dance with you. That’s belonging. That’s the feeling, the warm and fuzzies you get when you feel like you belong someplace,
[00:00:00] I’m talking to more friends and asking them about their experiences and I’m finding some really troubling, experiences. And they’ll say, David, I have this great story for you. she called me rice, like rice buddy.
Masami Moriya: And was like, cool.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: someone called someone rice.
Masami Moriya: she pointed at him and called him rice, like rice. Cause he didn’t eat cereal. He’s I didn’t grow up with cereal and she’s like rice.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: I think I could vomit.
Masami Moriya: I was like, did she pull her eyes back too?
I only got so mad and no, one’s going to stick up for him. Cause there’s no agents in there and he doesn’t want to lose his job. He’s, he’s at the bottom of the pole. So what’s he supposed to do?
Emi Lea Kamemoto: It’s infuriating. And, we hope that the beginning of this podcast that walks through some of the things, the ways that you can interrupt microaggressions is helpful, but each of us have that has that agency to go ahead and look up, like, how do I respond to a microaggression? Each of us is going to have a different plan based on our comfort level, based on the power structures in the space that we’re [00:01:00] in.
sometimes we will be the director. Sometimes we will be running those meetings and we have all of the power to say, knock it off. That’s not cool here. We don’t abide by microaggressions. We won’t stand for them, but sometimes you’re not in that position. I want everybody here to commit everybody.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: That’s listening to this podcast to commit, to learning a little bit more about microaggressions, understanding when others have perpetuated them, when you have perpetuated them and figuring out how you’re going to commit to stopping them, because we’re not going to get far in this industry. Unless we start calling people in and saying, Hey, when we don’t, we won’t stand for this.
You can’t do this.
Masami Moriya: we need to stand up for ourselves. And for the people around us. And then the other people need to do the learning
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah, I need to get with a fucking
Masami Moriya: get with the product and get with the fucking program and do the work. Don’t just ask your friends to help you do. And yes, you can ask them, but do more work outside, one hour of your out of your TV schedule to watching whatever you’re rewatching and.[00:02:00]
Pick up a book, look up an article, go to bed, reading that’s within the active in the space, the diversity just written by somebody is a person of color. They’re
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: about these things and that’s what it needs to. Happen. It’s not the education part that we do.
One-on-one because then you can go home and not think about it, it on your own time. And that’s what helps , move things forward, because then we know you’re doing the work,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: to the messy process of trying’s to interrupt bias. It’s not going to be perfect. You might get some egg on your face, but it’s worth it to make this. World better to try and advocate for ourselves or for others. Nobody is going to get better at it unless we actually try.
Masami Moriya: and try and get in the moment doing
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: Look at what you’re saying, and then reflect on what you’re saying, because sometimes you’re saying something and you don’t know where that phrase came from. hurtful to some people, I was actually
Emi Lea Kamemoto: yeah.
Masami Moriya: on this. call[00:03:00] as a group meeting white woman came on she’s there and she’s super nice and super great.
We’ve been talking about politics and in the entertainment space. And she caught herself. Cause she said something, whatever the phrase, whatever she was saying, she said off the reservation and she caught herself in that moment. She said, Ooh, use that phrase often.
And I don’t know if that’s a good phrase to use. That sounds like it should be wrong. There’s something that probably came from Sam. I’m going to look that up. I’m going to stop using that. and she was like, super I don’t know if that offended anyone. I’m like, you’re good.
Because one, you recognize that in the moment. And you are dedicated to change that and learn where that came from and then change it. And you told us you didn’t like, say it and then feel bad. You didn’t want to say anything and then maybe go change it later or forget, or whatever you told us that you felt bad, and she immediately changed that. And
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: what I like seeing in people. Like you hear it, you say it and you change it.
Humility is huge. People are afraid to have humility
Emi Lea Kamemoto: [00:04:00] Yeah.
Masami Moriya: afraid of looking dumb wrong or whatever instead, they often just go and say it, brush it off.
They try to give themselves the power and then, and Now they probably hurt somebody.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah, I love that example and because I think every person can benefit from. Calling themselves in like, why don’t we do the work where we call ourselves into the other people don’t have to do that work for us. And that’s for people of color that’s for white folks out there, our audience y’all listening to us.
You guys are gonna have different opinions and experiences than David and I have, I speak from my identity as somebody who’s worked in corporate entertainment spaces as a mixed race, Japanese and white woman. So those identity factors, my age, my lived experiences all color, my belief and view on microaggressions, inclusion, diversity equity, and I really hope that.
You will come and have a conversation with us, whether [00:05:00] it’s a comment on the YouTube or calling into us and emailing us and saying, I don’t agree with what you said. Like we need to be having these conversations that we can understand one another, all of our experiences.
Masami Moriya: Yeah, and up for one another,
like all the time. And I want, and we talked about this very briefly and I , I want to get, make this. The last point that we have is
bystander intervention. so many different ways that bystander intervention can happen.
and it can be up to the extreme of, somebody really standing up and verbally or physically attacking people on a public thing. But in the workplace, it’s usually just comments. it’s comments are getting cut off all the stuff that we’ve said before. so Emmy, how do people,
Masami Moriya: stick up for somebody who has had an interaction, it’s, being interrupted or getting talked over, or it doesn’t have anything. even if they’re, even if there’s nothing happening that somebody hasn’t said something and you want to include them in this could be. And as a bystander, you can be a per another person of color, anybody [00:06:00] can do this. And we should do this. If they’re seeing something that’s happening,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: one really important thing to recognize is that if you are a bystander if you fail to say something or do something. You are being complicit. You are saying that this behavior doesn’t impact you or the lives of other people, enough for you to do something.
So I just want people to sit with that. There is responsibility in witnessing racism, bias, microaggressions in the workplace. now that you know that you have a responsibility, how do you navigate this safely? Because you may also be a person of color. You may not have a lot of power privilege in those rooms, in those spaces.
So that’s where you identify. Okay. Who was the person that was microaggressed? What is their position? their level of like security in terms of like job, et cetera, maybe talk with them. One of the best things you can do as a bystander is if you. Don’t have the power or the right [00:07:00] words in that moment to call someone in or call someone out and say, Hey, I don’t agree with what you just said or how you phrase that you are perpetuating a microaggression.
If you don’t have the ability to say that no judgment on you, but stop after the session or off that experience. Talk to the person who experienced that and say, Hey, I noticed that you were microaggressed during that meeting. How are you feeling? Are you okay? Do you want to talk about it? They have the opportunity to say yes or no.
They might need someone to process that through it, with them. So being there for that person who has been microaggressed is of utmost importance. If you do want to escalate this microaggression and let somebody know that this wasn’t okay, you actually do need permission from the person who has been microaggressed, because your action could potentially put them into danger.
We all probably have that savior complex, where we want to help somebody, but you can’t help somebody unless they want to be helped. . It’s just not fair. You can put them at risk. [00:08:00] So talk with them. Maybe you can encourage them and help them understand why it’s important to say something. But then after that incident go to the person who was the micro aggressor in that example, and You can call them in and say, Hey, in that last meeting, I was not very comfortable with something that you said, can I have a moment to talk with you about it?
And hopefully they’re decent human being and they say, yes. And then you can share what that example was and you can share with them, this is the impact that those words have on me as a bystander to that incident. And then I’m speaking on behalf of this person, because I’ve talked to them about it.
And this is how they are feeling. And if they go what did they say it themselves? Then you can bring in. Let’s think about the power dynamics here. Let’s think about positionality. Let’s think about the stressful experience that this caused and help them build their empathy and understanding around how that situation impacted somebody’s emotions, identity, et cetera.
It takes a lot of work by standard work is not easy, but. [00:09:00] What other choice do we have? If nobody’s standing up for one another, our society just dissolves and devolves into nobody looking after one another at all, us all just looking out for our singular interests. I don’t want to be a part of a world like that.
So that’s why I choose to intervene. When I am a bystander in a situation.
Masami Moriya: Great points. Sometimes heard some of these and I, and sometimes I forget, , essentially things like asking their permission to help. if I had something happen to me and someone tried to save me, I could still lose my job if I didn’t want it to escalate.
And if it was, I didn’t want to get anybody involved, I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings or whatever, as much as that sucks. On my part, maybe I didn’t want that to happen. They don’t want that to happen. they don’t want to get, don’t want the attention to go into them.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah, they may have more at risk
Masami Moriya: it’s it can be, it’s a difficult situation.
Everybody’s been a bystander at some point and done
nothing. What are the reasons why you don’t.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: this is really key and something like the, we have to reflect on [00:10:00] individually. One of the most common reasons is people think Oh, it’s not my problem. It didn’t happen directly to me or making the assumption that somebody else is going to say something that’s problematic. If we think about crime, because one of the most common examples that are listed in bystander trainings is there’s somebody being attacked in the courtyard of an apartment building in New York city.
But everybody’s hearing her screams. Everybody knows something’s going on, but nobody calls the police because they’ve all made the assumption that somebody else is going to call the police. And they’re like, Oh I don’t want to overburden the police lines or whatnot, but because nobody called because everybody made that assumption, nobody called and this person ended up being assaulted.
Masami Moriya: literally called a bystander effect. It’s a psychological effect that if other people are around, else is going to do it,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: It’s not necessarily the truest thing in the world to go by
Emi Lea Kamemoto: you should take a chance.
Masami Moriya: thinks [00:11:00] somebody else is going to do it. So
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yep. Do it yourself. You take responsibility, right? You don’t know what other people are doing. So just take responsibility for what you can do.
Masami Moriya: Better to have two people do it have nobody do it.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: And that’s a really key point too. So another thing that people worry about when, and they’re going to be a bystander and stand up for somebody, is that they fear retaliation against them. Oh, but if I say something, then something’s going to happen to me too. Yes, that is a risk. One of the really cool ways to mitigate that risk is to get a group of people to say something, there is power in numbers.
This is why we want to teach, organizing to every single person who will listen to us. Because if you go up to the group after that event or situation happened and say, Hey, did you all see that? Like how do you feel about that? Was that cool? Do we agree with what just happened? You can create a coalition or a group of people that can then bring up this issue and say it wasn’t [00:12:00] just one person who thought this was bad.
There’s a number of us who don’t think that this is okay.
Masami Moriya: And at the same time, That’s when you have a group of people around you and our friends, and indeed they, you can talk to you and that you’re going to see again, but when you’re also in a place that’s just strangers.
If you’re on a public transportation something happens, everybody has that same effect. It’s the same style of things, but the moment one person stands up another, person’s going to stand up. One, you stood up first. So the risk is a lot lower. Now you have two people, you have one person already there.
If you stand up, you’re two. So now you’re in better numbers and a second person does some likely somebody else is going to join you as well. and they have the five D’s that people I can always, we can, we should put it in the show notes, a bystander intervention, but. Be there. It’s about taking action.
There’s so many different ways you can help in that situation that doesn’t involve you being as close as possible, but not [00:13:00] doing nothing.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: yeah, that’s where representation matters. Again, that theme keeps coming back, but if you are representing your values and you stand up and say something, you encourage other people to see themselves doing the same thing and doing what’s right. In the last situation that occurs that deters people from standing up as a bystander, is that they’re uncertain about what happened.
They’re uncertain about what the person who has been microaggressed is feeling they’re uncertain about the details. They’re not, they don’t want to assume anything. The great thing that you can do with uncertainty. Is ask questions. You can talk to the person who experienced the microaggression and say, where are you cool with that?
How are you feeling? You can get information, you can talk to other people and say, I just want to be clear. I just want to understand for myself, this is what I saw. This is what I experienced. Did you also experience that? Get the information. There’s no harm in asking the questions. And so [00:14:00] that one you can just mitigate right there.
Be genuinely curious, take the time to ask questions so that you don’t have to be uncertain of what happened. You don’t have to go forward to report this issue without real information, without people backing you up. And with importantly, without the permission of the person who was experiencing the bias harassment or microaggression, We did. And it I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be able to speak about this because it’s something that affects every single person in this entertainment industry. There’s no way you’re going to enter this industry without being microaggressed or treated unfairly. it’s quote unquote, a part of the culture, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stand for it.
And it doesn’t mean that you can’t be a part of changing it. And we want to give those tools to everybody that we get to interact with.
Masami Moriya: Doesn’t mean that culture can’t change.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Exactly.
Masami Moriya: all the time. We city has changed all the time. People change all the time. Demographics change all the [00:15:00] time. we’re in a time of change. Hollywood is changing in itself and we are going to, , take advantage of that because we are going to be the change.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Exactly.
Masami Moriya: of us,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: And we won’t do it alone.
Masami Moriya: No. So we close out we want to play a new game called. the call it out close out.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: cause it’s like Collins call-outs and cancel culture.
That’s what we could
Masami Moriya: because as much as call-ins are great, sometimes you get just got to call people out for it. You don’t have to cancel them for it. I I think there’s that difference between canceling and calling out.
And what do you want to call out in the industry this week?
Emi Lea Kamemoto: This one’s just been on my mind since you shared the article with me, but Ron Howard being slated to direct. This incredible movie about an amazing Chinese pianist instead of an Asian or Asian American director. I think it’s one of those opportunities where we’re not thinking strategically about the best storytellers [00:16:00] about an identity is people who have experienced and lived those identities.
And. It seems to me like another example of let’s go ahead, rinse and reuse and repeat the people who have been known to be successful. Instead of thinking about how this yet again, come here indicates to Asian-American directors everywhere that they are not good enough to direct their own the stories
Masami Moriya: told people you’ve told him before, but I’d like to hear it again is, why should white people be able to play and direct and tell stories of other people? Is that okay?
why do white men, white directors get to tell these stories? Why do they think this way? Do they think they’re better?
Emi Lea Kamemoto: I honestly, sometimes really wish I could put on the psyche of a white man to understand where in their line of thought they think that’s okay, that they can represent a story and identity that they have never held. Better than other people who have held that identity. I truly don’t understand it, but I think that the solution is us starting to question it , is more people in these [00:17:00] decision-making rooms saying, all right, , is this person the best equipped to tell this story?
Do they have in their lived experiences, the best working knowledge, or is there going to be a huge gap that they have to master? Like. Why not have a director and then Ron Howard advises the project or co-directs, or do something creative like that. That’s a solution that wouldn’t offend people as much as just blatantly allowing someone else that isn’t of that identity
Masami Moriya: no. And the same with the writers, it’s like a Del laminin. She called him out on that, but she was also, she was the co-writer of crazy rich Asians with another
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: And then when he did crazy rich Asians too, they wrote given a new deal. paid less.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yup.
Masami Moriya: they were going to pay her less because she’s a newer writer, but the one who’s bringing the culture in.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: expert,
even with her, co-writer offering to give her [00:18:00] some of his salary. I really admire what she did and said no. The industry needs to change. It needs to acknowledge that my value to this project is equal and equitable to the value you bring to the project. It shouldn’t be just you acknowledging that the whole industry needs to acknowledge it.
Masami Moriya: yes, they
Emi Lea Kamemoto: my calling. What’s your call out?
Masami Moriya: My call out for the week is NBC.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Ooh.
Masami Moriya: They recently acquired rights to the new TV series And there is not one Filipino on this photo.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Oh my God.
Masami Moriya: Filipinos are 4% of the nation’s nurses population. And. They’re huge in this culture. My is a nurse. Like it’s a norm.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: that is a huge percentage for a demographic like that. And they have three white people. Oh, it was that one black again, maybe a South [00:19:00] Asian person, but no Filipino like that. the United States brings over Filipino for the nursing’s
we have a favorable visa treaty with the Philippines that allows nursing students and nurses to come from the Philippines to the us. And in fact, the Philippines has these sorts of treaties and visas with tons of companies and countries
Masami Moriya: in a new show about nurses. that’s a problem. that’s not cool. We need representation.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: That’s such a slap in the face to all of our Pinoy and penile nurses who have given so much this year in particular. the, honestly the people who NBC should really think about this show very carefully, if they’re doing this show to humanize nurses so that people have like more empathy for healthcare workers.
That’s great. But then it should be representative of what healthcare actually looks like.
Masami Moriya: it’s appalling. ]the work that you’re doing right now, like that’s the level of Colin that we want all of us challenge ourselves to do let’s [00:20:00] look at who’s writing and directing. Making decisions for these productions, because that gives us an idea of who we’re working with in this industry.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Who’s making the decisions who we have to influence
Masami Moriya: yeah,
Emi Lea Kamemoto: and who we get to call in, questions.
Masami Moriya: the stories. He was
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: and who’s paying the money into it. that’s our show for today. Thank you for listening to the strong Asian lead podcast. add, we would look forward to talking with you next week.
so much. every week is just a pleasure to work with you to talk with you about these things. Cause we could do this for hours and we’re going over again. So
it’s just it’s just a wonderful time to talk with you every week.
Emi Lea Kamemoto: Learning from each other. And I can’t wait till we keep learning from our guests that will be on our podcasts. And, we’re figuring this out altogether. Y’all it’s not a perfect process. it’s messy. We’re going to trip over our words. We are becoming aware of our own biases throughout this process too.
And it’s so worth it. It’s so cool. So thank you for making this happen, David. and this is the strong Asian lead podcast. See you [00:21:00] on the next episode.