On July 1, about 45 NAKASEC and Korean Resource Center (KRC) members from Los Angeles and Orange County joined MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans) and a diverse crowd to protest at the Hollywood premiere of “The Last Airbender.” Children, parents and working adults joined together representing our multigenerational family and were encouraged by cars honking in support as well as attention from mainstream and local media.
The reason for the protest was obvious enough for an 11-year-old Korean American girl from KRC who first pointed out to us that this film was racist. Unlike the original Saturday morning cartoon series “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” whose cast is made up entirely of Asian and Inuit people, the Hollywood version features white main characters and “Slumdog Millionaire’s” Dev Patel who is playing the villain. Dev Patel joined the cast only after Jesse McCartney dropped out from playing the role.
Young Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders do not need to grow up discouraged and feel like they need to seek other avenues to feel proud and confident of their identity and race. This is our America that we helped build and an America we are continuing to make vibrant and dynamic. America is changing and the youth of today will not support continued whitewashing of their history, culture and community.