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A new YouTube show challenges the way we talk about Asian-American women.
Are you an Asian woman living in the United States who’s been inundated with racist comments and want to know how to keep your cool? Or do you just need validation that fellow Americans can say some real insensitive bullshit?
Well, look no further than Quiet Tiny Asian, a comical YouTube series that provides an informative but brutal slap in the face about the ways Asian and Asian-American women experience racism literally every day of their waking lives.
The five-part series, written by SJ Son and directed by Ginny Leise of comedy duo SJ & GINNY, highlights lessons that Quiet Tiny Asian (played by Son) teaches her 3-year-old niece, Arhi, on how to properly be the Asian woman that American society thinks she should be.
QTA covers glaringly racist stuff, such as “slanted eyes” impressions and “compliments” on speaking English without breaking words or having an accent, as well as inescapable stereotypes, like the assumption that Asians’ “good hair” and “ageless skin” make life any less difficult.
Son and Leise told the Daily Dot that Son initially drafted the project about a year ago, though it was born out of decades of microaggressions that Son has faced while just existing as a Korean woman.
“It’s this more subtle racism that we see every day that seems just as destructive and [is] honestly very painful, and I think we as Asian Americans have learned to ignore it or just move past it without saying anything,” Son said about the series. “It’s kind of having to deal with that on a daily basis, and then realizing that I can no longer not say something about this.”
The series is particularly interesting in its execution as a how-to for a young girl who will inevitably experience these truths on her own. While satirical shared-experience videos aren’t anything new—covering topics like “shit white people say to Asian people”—Quiet Tiny Asian feels more personal. The audience gets to know Son’s character better than through a one-off video, and can see how these slights and remarks affect her through her restrained reactions over the course of the five episodes.
“I think when you’re a kid, it’s easier to be ‘colorblind’ to [the racism] because you just want to be accepted to the group and fitting in is very important. A lot of people start to feel either ashamed or kind of want to ignore that part of your life in an effort to fit in,” Son said about her experiences growing up.
But now, Son said she strikes a balance for calling out the subtle racism. “You do have to choose your battles because being the racism police is so fucking exhausting and no one is asking you to do it.”
Though the duo has made any plans yet, viewers on YouTube and Reddit are already calling for a second season of Quiet Tiny Asian, which wouldn’t be so hard. The pair had to cut half the material from the first season, and have plenty of Quiet Tiny Asian moments that could supplement another round.
“It’s interesting to me because there’s a lot of content on the internet about microaggressions, but very little of it is centric to the Asian experience, and SJ pointed that out,” Leise said. “I think the fact that it’s resonating means that there’s a lot that hasn’t been said yet.”
Watch the first season of Quiet Tiny Asian below:
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.