Charles Melton revealed he will no longer be silent about his experiences as a Korean American. The actor penned a column for Variety about how he has “re-examined his roots”.
He said he grew up suppressing his Asian identity and today all of that changes. The actor wrote that the rise of horrific hate crimes against Asians has led him to think deeply about his own experiences. He wrote, “With the continued rise in horrific hate crimes towards my community, I have been in deep introspection by recalling my own experiences, unpacking my past, and trying to understand it all.”
The Riverdale star shared that through it, he has realized that he never stood up for his Korean heritage. He revealed that he wilfully ignored the racism and “microaggressions” that were directed at him and his people.
The actor wrote, “Through it, I’ve realized that I never stood up for my Korean heritage. I’ve willfully ignored the racism and microaggressions directed towards me and my people. I failed to defend my heritage in fear of retribution. And now I can’t help but wonder what I did to contribute to the violence against Asian Americans.”
Charles opened up further as he explained his Korean mother married his father while he was stationed overseas as an Army soldier. He revealed that he and his sisters were born in Alaska. The actor shared that he has dealt with his identity as a mixed-race child growing up.
He wrote, “I’ve often been told that I’m not Asian enough. Not white enough. And I question whether I am enough at all. I am conflicted by my racial identities and the trauma that comes with that.”
“…I didn’t know how to protect her, and it broke my heart.”
The Sun is Also a Star actor who has been thinking about his mother in these recent months which includes his memory of her painful interactions with friends and strangers. He shared that he remembers people talking down to her as if she did not belong.
Charles shared that his mother felt demeaned and it triggered something in him that he has long buried deep inside. He wrote, “A truth that at my young age, I didn’t know how to protect her, and it broke my heart.” The Riverdale star detailed some of the microaggressions and painful memories he himself faced.
The actor wrote that comments from friends about his house smelling funny; because his mother’s home-cooked Korean meals and kimchi caused him to carry shame. He further shared that at school he never learned about the history of Korean Americans or Asian American history at all.
Charles wrote, “If you never learn about your own history, how can you really exist? Trying to fit in at school, I chased the American dream by being a star athlete, all the while suppressing my Asian identity. I remember even beating everyone to the punch by making Asian jokes before anyone else would.”
The actor revealed that his mother carried feelings of shame and blame. But from now he vowed to speak out and be vocal when it comes to his connection with the Asian-American community. “I will no longer remain silent about my lived experience,” the star promised. “The hate crimes that have swept the country have forced me to realize; how important the platform I have is and the responsibility that comes with it.”