Katrina Bragat ’20 knows how easy it is to feel alienated and have little to no representation in mainstream American media. Through her senior capstone, pre-COVID-19, Bragat was interested in helping Asian Americans like herself tell their own narratives and increase realistic representation of themselves. Though she was not able to complete that project she was able to produce a new video project called “Tides.” (Warning: The video contains explicit language that may be offensive to some viewers.)
“I wanted to raise awareness for what reality is like for an Asian American,” says Bragat, who received a bachelor’s degree in communication studies in May. “Even if racism may not always be as prominent as it was in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will always be the possibility of another rise in xenophobic sentiments.”
Bragat’s documentary “Tides” shows how racism against Asian Americans comes in waves. This ebb and flow is depicted through a variety of news clips of varying sentiments, from the South Korean thriller Parasite winning “Best Picture” at the 2020 Academy Awards and Andrew Yang’s bid for a presidential nomination, to video footage of a racist insults hurled at an Asian American while riding public transportation.
“As with many things, there are patterns of xenophobic sentiments that are influenced by various factors and current events,” says Bragat. “Although social progress has been made, this is not the first time that racism against Asian Americans is making itself more prominent, and unfortunately, it is almost certainly not the last time. I feel that the title ‘Tides’ is an appropriate metaphor for the fluctuations of mainstream anti-Asian sentiment.”
The video features a compilation of hate crimes and racial incidents that includes vulgar language and foul play. Bragat left the video uncensored to show the raw truth of what is actually happening.
“Not everyone is privileged enough to be able to just safely turn their heads away and pretend they don’t know what is happening — people of color are being ostracized purely for their heritage, which no one can control,” she says. “If people are uncomfortable watching this video, then I hope they can begin to imagine how uncomfortable it is to be an Asian American constantly at risk of being the recipient of racism and hate crimes.”
Bragat hopes her video will bring awareness to the racism that happens to Asian Americans, and she hopes her video will help educate people about it.
“The recent rise of racism against Asians did not come out of nowhere — it is largely the result of internalized, institutionalized racism, which can only be fought by properly acknowledging its existence,” Bragat says. “I hope that this documentary short can contribute to promoting discourse and educating people on the topic.”
Bragat’s film has been accepted by the APHA (American Public Health Association) Public Health Film Festival Featured Film Sessions Committee for a screening/presentation at the “Young Filmmakers in Action: Perspectives on COVID-19 and Other Public Health Topics.” The film will be one of seven short films shown at the virtual event on Monday, October 26 from 1-2:30 p.m. (MT). Bragat has been invited to participate in the panel discussion that will follow the film screenings.
-Gabriella Lucci ’20