The Internet is a miraculous tool.
It keeps us all connected within seconds. It has allowed many antiquated tools to gain new life (or learn how to retool itself in a digital age). However, it has also opened the storm door cellar to the dank recesses of how vile people can really be when cloaked in an avatar, a made-believe persona, and a bouncing router.
Yes, trolls. You inbred troglodytes of the Interwebs. We’re talking to you!
Take the story of young Kelly Marie Tran. If you note her IMDB page, she has kept herself only gainfully employed (but, then again, so has your local sandwich artist).
It wasn’t until she was cast as Rose in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This Vietnamese-American actress was scrapping in Hollywood for a break and then she landed in D’Qar! Can you imagine how happy she was? Can you guess how many people she called?
Of course, after the movie came out, she wanted to give shouts-out to all the Star Wars fans, as well as her closest friends and family. And that’s when she was met with the vitriol, undexterous simpletons, and soulless vacuum of the Third Reich.
Don’t believe me? This is what happened in the hallowed grounds of the fan Wiki ‘Wookieepedia.’
“Ching Chong Wing Wong”?! What kind of inverted, head-crammed-in-the-behind thinking was that? Oh, she’s Asian so sound like a tool that watches too many Anime? Yeah, you’re funny. Pigheaded dolt.
The racist trolling against Tran was lunacy. Like she flattened the tires of someone’s (foster) mother’s wheelchair tires.
So why did this happen at all?
Can it actually be because she is the first woman of any diversity outside of birthplace to play a leading role in a Star Wars movie? Apparently. Who knew George Lucas’ brainchild only appealed to Aryan nation?!
There should have been a clue when a black Stormtrooper appeared in The Force Awakens because that five-second snippet in a trailer awoke the Klan, skinheads, and their first-cousin-once-removed girlfriends.
Back to Tran, she was pelted relentlessly with hate. She did what anyone in her place would have done — erased her existence from social media to flee from the buzzcut and body odor-ridden trolls of the world.
And we see how awful people — much less, the dorks of the Force — really can be.
Tran was depressed. She was reclusive. She was absent from public media. Until now.
In what has to be a move that is lauded by all, she penned an eloquent rebuttal to the bigoted roadkill known as “those people” in The New York Times.
She opens up her soul to a point where one can peer into her insecurities and perceived inadequacies as someone “different” in America as she struggled to make sense of her life. The incessant trolling did nothing but take her back to that hurtful time:
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.
The girl was brainwashed, and it was relatively simple to do because she struggled with that growing up. Bullies are too dense and feeble-minded to realize how to tie their shoes or be human, but they are observant enough to know that whatever slight they target in victims, others before them saw it too.
Tran was no different. Of course, her weight, her origin, her sexuality, her whole person was in the ire of the moronic. Naturally, someone can only take so much. She began to cave in. Why? Not because she was a wimp or a coward. Rather, it was comfortable and safe in there.
Many of us have done that very thing. Some, may be doing it now. (We see you. It’s okay.)
And that’s where she stayed for months, until she had an epiphany about which she shared with the world in this piece:
And as much as I hate to admit it, I started blaming myself. I thought, “Oh, maybe if I was thinner” or “Maybe if I grow out my hair” and, worst of all, “Maybe if I wasn’t Asian.” For months, I went down a spiral of self-hate, into the darkest recesses of my mind, places where I tore myself apart, where I put their words above my own self-worth.
And it was then that I realized I had been lied to.
If only every child who has ever been cast as lambs to the slaughter of the half-witted could come to this realization. Many, before it’s too late.
She shares that while she was lied to, she wasn’t alone. “We all have,” she exclaims. It takes a mountain of courage for someone to come to that realization. Courage to stand up and remember that out of 7.5 billion people in this world, you are not alone!
Now that Tran has come to her senses and has cast her face into the fire, what’s next?
I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white. I want to live in a world where women are not subjected to scrutiny for their appearance, or their actions, or their general existence. I want to live in a world where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings.
This is the world I want to live in. And this is the world that I will continue to work toward.
Question: What are you doing with your life? Where do you find yourself now? Have you been a ‘Kelly’ before? Do you know others who have castigated other “Kellies’?
We all have a part in this movie called Life. And whether you are featured or just a supporting member, you can do something.
Even if it’s only to have the courage to stand, take steps, and continue to be in a place that has trolls. Think it’s hopeless? It’s not. Even roaches stray from light. Kelly found hers. And that’s what makes her better. You can too.
Shine on, people. Shine on.