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Your race, your body, your gender – how do your identities affect your life and career?
Here’s an answer to this question that we can all learn from. Hye Yun Park is a Korean American, happily fat, and genderqueer performance artist, filmmaker, writer, and actor.
If that seems like a lot of “labels” to carry around, just find out what they all mean to Hye Yun. She talks about what it means to be happily fat as an Asian American, to be an Asian American actor, and more.
And her perspective makes it clear why intersectionality is so crucial. This is part of the Race Forward video series #RaceAnd, directed and edited by Kat Lazo.
The Editors at Everyday Feminism
Click for the Transcript
Hye: I’m Hye Yun Park. I’m a writer, performer, and a filmmaker. Race and gender, race and body. No one in this world is just one thing. I’m a Korean-American. I am a happily fat person. I’m a genderqueer person. All of these are important parts of me that allow me to connect with the world.
I often get scripts where the role that I’m playing is there for its… Her sole purpose of being an Asian American woman. That makes me angry and often times I would suggest, “Oh, but there’s this part of me as myself or as the character” and the answer would be, “No. You’re here as the Korean woman working at the deli.”
Being a happily fat person comes with a different set of baggage when I’m walking through life in Korea or around my Korean-American family. It’s so weird. My family, they’re able to see and appreciate ferocious fat women talking about body positivity when it’s other people, but when it’s me they just resort to, “You’re so fat. You can’t… We got to take care of that before you’re able to accomplish anything else.” They can’t accept that part of me and they just want me to conform into whatever is more pleasant for them and for their standards.
(What would you say to people who think talking about our differences divides us?)
Intersectionality brings us together. I wholeheartedly believe in that. You’re wrong. It’s interesting when I talk to my plus size girlfriends, we would talk about our experiences. The set of issues that I would have being an Asian American fat woman living life would be different from, let’s say, a black woman. I would be able to, in this fun, relatable way, I would get a deeper understanding of the race part of it. Do people actually say that, that it divides us? Oh.
I see race in media all the time, and it’s not a thing of “Oh I’m Asian American. I’m Asian American.” It’s just what I live and breathe and because as a storyteller I feel so passionate about fixing the misrepresentation of people of color in media and the under-representation of us that… It’s the driving force of what keeps me going as an artist.
I think intersectionality is so crucial when it comes to racial justice because it gives us space to have a deeper and more complex understanding of each other’s oppressions and it’s such a great tool to have more empathy.
Race Forward advances racial justice through research, media and practice. Founded in 1981, Race Forward brings systematic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. Race Forward publishes the daily news site Colorlines and presents Facing Race, the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice.
Artist Hye Yun Park wears many hats; filmmaker, performance artist, writer and actor. As a genderqueer fat Asian, Hye uses her many talents to counter act the narrow representation of people of color like herself. To watch Hye Yun visit www.vimeo.com/hypark/videos & follow @hyeheyyun.