Diversity is a hot topic right now. Gender diversity and the wage gap between men and women. Police brutality deliberately directed at young men of color. Proper representation of and human rights for the LGBT community. There are a lot of people out there who are screaming loud that America needs to become a more diverse and accepting place. But not every group is spoken for, and photographers Idris + Tony are helping to lend a voice to an oft-forgotten demographic.
The persuASIAN Project is a photographic exhibition with the ambitious yet necessary goal of redefining the public perception of Asian men in western culture. Idris + Tony's website reads: "Whether framed as docile and submissive or rigid and emotionless, the perception is of a group so devoid of intimacy as to be certifiably sexless." The project shows Asian men as objects of sexual desire. And not in a way that demeans the pictured men and distracts from the photo exhibit's ultimate objective.
As a culture that's still struggling to include women, blacks, and LGBT people, it's easy to remember that while we do need to be inclusive of these groups, there are a lot of other groups of people who are being left out of the conversation completely. Bravo to Idris + Tony for creating a conversation around this. This is so cool and important and groundbreaking for many reasons, but at least for these 3.
We're not as evolved as we think.
It wouldn't be fair of me to say that we haven't made progress as a nation because there are signs of change all around us. But in the wake of a very racially and politically charged 2016, we still have a lot of work to do. Asian Americans aren't even part of the conversation that we're having as a nation. And we should be including them. We should be including EVERYONE.
We are all beautiful.
Every race. Every skin tone. Every ethnic group. We are all beautiful and desirable, and we all deserve the chance to be shown as such. There are lots of underrepresented groups in the media and entertainment. But that conversation is changing.
Think of the lives this will change.
I can remember what it was like growing up and hardly seeing a standard of beauty or masculinity that represented someone like me. And I can remember how meaningful it was to finally see that representation in some way as I got older. Think about a young Asian guy who will see this project and feel his self-love and importance reinforced. Seeing yourself reflected in the art and images around you is so important. Especially when you're young and at your most impressionable age.
I hope this inspires other photographers and artists to shine a light on groups they feel need to be represented or even reimagined in the public eye. Creating a culture of inclusion means looking beyond our immediate group or feelings. Inclusion means including everyone. And that even means groups of people who may not immediately register on your radar. Let's continue to be part of the change. You can check out more information about The persuASIAN Project at thepersuasionproject.com.