“Titled Mira, Royal Detective, the children’s cartoon will feature nearly all the Indian members of the Brown Illuminati.”
Also late November last year, I thought I did not want children. I am 26 years old, and at no point has parenthood been a defining part of my vision for my future. I am the one cousin in my huge extended Asian family spared from the aunties’ questions about when I am going to get married, probably because they think I am lesbian, but hopefully because they have been convinced by my clear and constant commitment to being single.
In my thirties, if I am willing and able, I will consider adopting. I have even looked into donating my eggs as a way to pay for that adoption, since I do not want a biological child until I have the option to clone myself. But when I heard the news about this cartoon, I had to look within and ask, “@#%&. Do I need to have a baby now?”
Some people hear the ticking of their biological clock. I did not come with that feature, but Mira, Royal Detective introduced me to a new, weirder type of countdown. The only pressure I feel to have a child is the sudden new pressure to have one before the amount of South Asian kids cartoons on American television goes from one back down to the number we usually work with, zero.
“The only pressure I feel to have a child is the sudden new pressure to have one before the amount of South Asian kids cartoons on American television goes from one back down to…zero.”
Television kept me company during an intense childhood. Kids shows were a much-needed solace that allowed my mind to exist in nicer worlds, like a break from reality. But for someone raised and spoiled for years by 1990s and 2000s cartoons, I did not walk away with an image of who and what I could be someday. I had to get that the old school Asian way, known to white people as a 25-year bout of depression.
Children watch television more than they consume any other form of media, and media not only informs how others view minorities, but how we minorities view ourselves. Now that I am older and equipped with a passion for Asian American culture and identity, I wonder how my life might have been different if there had been even just one brown TV family whose lives could play out every week right alongside mine.
There is no greater formative force for Asian American youth than what we go through for our parents, and if last year’s “Asian August” taught me anything, it is that whole generations of us have been starved for nuanced representation of the Asian American family dynamic. And when there has never been an American animated series with an all-South Asian cast until now, where else would that starvation begin but in childhood?
That is not what I want for my future child, and so I am left with two options — pop out a brown baby before next year or buy the DVD once this cartoon ends. I will probably settle and go with the latter, but that is fine with me, because once I add Mira, Royal Detective to my library with Steven Universe and Sanjay and Craig, I will own the world’s most complete, extensive collection of American cartoons with South Asian characters, and my baby better be happy with that.
Cheyenne Paiva is an open mic comedian in New Orleans. In May, she will become a member of the prestigious Second Bachelor’s Degree Club. She is Pilipina and Sri Lankan and a recovering depressed person. You can find her on Twitter at @cheyennenishadi.