What watching Lizzie McGuire taught me about White America

What watching Lizzie McGuire taught me about White America




What watching Lizzie McGuire instruct me about White America

assimilationTagalog, is one of the most beautiful languages I’ve ever heard. The language is a musical harmonize of archaic Tagalog, Malay, Spanish, and Chinese. It took me times to admire the abrupt drop of consonants at the end of words, the recurrence of syllables used to shift between tenses, and the vowels that ground in your speak like pork siopao–those nuances of a postcolonial native tongue.

I wish I knew how to appreciate my language when I moved to the United States in 2003, just in time to start middle school. To mold my American accent, I stayed glued to the television screen watching an all-American Disney Channel legend, Lizzie McGuire, portrayed by actress Hilary Duff. Growing up in Quezon City, I “re afraid” being seized and sold into human trafficking while doing regular things, like forget residence to go shopping. I grew up in a country that lay disallows in the windows of clas buses so that pickpockets couldn’t steal our telephones and pocketbooks while we sat in traffic. Meanwhile, Lizzie, Miranda, and Gordo strolled confidently through the mall with the singular thought of buying $110 rhinestoned blue jeans from The Style Shack so that Lizzie could prevail Best Dressed in the school yearbook.

My cousins and I joked about the brand-new life waiting at the other end of a 26 -hour journey to our new home–the Filipino saucers I’d share with potential white boy admirers, the clothings I’d wear now that I didn’t have to wear a Catholic school uniform, and the promise of personal infinite and privacy that simply exists in suburban teenage stories.

Change happened quickly. Weekends were filled with babysitting and hushed religion activities instead of what I was more access to: stupendous lineage concludes overflowing with menu, mischievous cousins, and gossiping Titas. Puberty induced my body unrecognizable, a information complicated by my new feel of ownership over my private cavity and naturalnes to move with less danger. I felt somehow safer at home but more foreign in my own skin.

Through it all, the suburban nature according to Lizzie McGuire remained my refuge. Each incident started with a conflict that coerced Lizzie to choose between her American family-centric qualities and opportunities to climb the social ladder. But the see never presented any significant roadblocks on the path to forming Lizzie’s identity. Lizzie McGuire provided an opportunity to innocently rebel by wearing a black motorcycle jacket, flaunt her independent blotch while working behind the counter at the movie theater( to earn added shopping coin ), and, even more importantly, originate her inner voice through the pretentious Cartoon Lizzie. All of her missteps were catalogued as innocent investigates; in my own actuality, I couldn’t even say the word mirror wrong.

Mrs. M, one of my middle school teachers, refused to call me by my name Bea( stressed bay-yuh ), insisting that the American pronunciation of my identify was Bee.

“When there are two vowels going together, ” she said, quoting an arbitrary English intonation power, “the firstly one does the talking, and the second one does the walking.”

Every Friday, she reserved an hour for her students to take turns reading aloud from the books we were introduced to in class. That hour frightened me. It felt profoundly mortifying to see headings bob up at my uncertain mispronunciations while I stuttered down clauses. As chuckles hovered through the air, Mrs. M sat in silence, never berating all the persons who giggled at me. Soon, I trenched familiar siopao-filled vowels for compressed, jaw-gritted ones. I opted for the less physically damaging American pronunciation of meeyr( reflect) over the mouthy Taglish version, mee-rohr. Even though I was an enthusiastic student at Lizzie McGuire’s School of the American English Accent, my mentality and my tongue couldn’t work fast enough, leading to utter shame when my accent accidentally slipped out.

To say that this linguistic change is scarring gives too much credit to my oppressor, so I call it simply by its list: postcolonial pain. After generations of Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Us occupation; after the savagery that deleted Filipino tribal cultures in favor of gray skyscrapers in the metropolitan capital of Manila; after leaving the country we knew so well to make a better life for benefit of future generations in the West, my family–like most immigrant families–was not gave with the feeling implements to confront people who didn’t understand or care to learn about our culture. Meanwhile, white people, like Mrs. M, were taught to believe that white culture is superior through American institutions: education, news media, movie, television.




auto credit v1Walt Disney Pictures

“Luckily, ” I wrote to myself in one of my old school Lisa Frank gazettes, “I have Lizzie.” As I watched, I realized that Lizzie was raised on the fundamental idea that her recollects, feelings, and identity should ever come first. In contrast, my multitude hometown–replete with strict religious hierarchy and impoverished houses improving stopgap mansions on the two sides of roads–led my family to raise me with collective consciousness. My girlhood assignments are fixed in collective maintenance, the signature Filipino “hospitality” that baby-sits on the border of service and martyrdom. Coming to America fibs are differentiated by a change in priorities. Collective consciousness drops in the shadow of validation afforded by ascending corporate and social ladders.

Lizzie cured me to steer the American openings I was lucky enough to enjoy without the threat of violence tower over my head. But I couldn’t overlook the fact that white Americans were allowed to explore their identities while Black, Indigenous, and other students of hue like myself walked on eggshells around them to protect their learned notion that whiteness is superior. The show itself catered a safe gap for me to witness a young girl fighting to do whatever it are necessary in order to acquire in life, but gradually building up my subconscious the idea that oppression works to support those who look like her, leaving color and chocolate-brown girlfriends to fend for themselves.

The McGuire family was too busy upholding the standards of white American success and social acceptance to ever consider their privilege. In the same vein, Clarissa: The Teenaged Witch, Phil of the Future, and Even Stevens focused on the everyday mini-adventures that generated white homes closer. Even when supports and movies like That’s So Raven, Wizards of Waverly Place, and Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior explored Black, Mexican-Italian, and Asian American pedigree dynamics, the stories still swiveled around assimilation and proximity to whiteness with simply the sparest culture nuance.

When we still lived in the Philippines, my cousins and I wondered if Lalaine, the actress who toy Miranda in the Lizzie McGuire line, was Filipino. Years later, on a odd Wikipedia detour, I would confirm that Lalaine is of Filipino descent. When I was younger, the idea that Miranda was Filipino and white-passing gave me hope that I’d one day assimilate so well that people would remember I was foreign. Today, my American accent is so inherent that most of my friends are surprised to learn I didn’t grow up in this country.

I realize now that this American freedom is granted to me because of my own proximity to whiteness, that my light-skinned features and carefully crafted American accent fixed it possible for me to feel safe around white people. Being adjusted by white-hot television let me to not fully consider the ways in which parties in other cultures continue to work towards promoting subjugated in America. Simply in my late teens would I learn that dark-skinned South Asians and Middle Easterners were being unjustly targeted as a result of 9/11. Only in my early twenties would I learn how to empathize with Black parties as I watched Black America stand in solidarity with the men and women being shooting down by a militarized police force. Simply in my mid-twenties would I learn that the Brooklyn land I now occupy immediately belonged to the Canarsie tribe.

Light-skinned immigrants like myself are afforded the freedom of the media to assimilate to whiteness, but we do so at the jeopardy of our neighbor Black and Indigenous societies.

I’m grateful to members who Lizzie McGuire for giving me an psychological framework to anchor the incredibly difficult transition of moving to a new country. I’m grateful for my ability to switch between Tagalog and English or Taglish to decode their own families storeys that my sisters and future daughters need to know. With a Lizzie McGuire reboot recently announced to fanfare, I hope that one day immigrant teenages might find more of themselves in shows that paint a picture of the American family experience.

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