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    Charles Melton Opened Up About How He "Failed To Defend My Heritage In Fear Of Retribution"

    "I’ve willfully ignored the racism and microaggressions directed towards me and my people."

    Charles Melton is speaking out about the surge in anti-Asian racist violence.

    Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

    In particular, this comes after the murders of Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Daoyou Feng, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong Yue near Atlanta.

    In an essay for Variety, the Riverdale star reflected on his Korean American identity in the wake of "recent horrors."

    In the essay, he recalls suppressing his Korean identity to try and "fit in" — particularly at school. "Comments from friends about my house smelling funny because of my mother’s home-cooked Korean meals and kimchi caused me to carry shame. At school, I never learned about my Korean American history — or Asian American history at all."

    Noam Galai / Getty Images

    "If you never learn about your own history, how can you really exist?"

    "I’ve realized that I never stood up for my Korean heritage," he wrote. "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."

    Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images

    "What did I do to perpetuate these cruel stereotypes?"

    "I will no longer remain silent about my lived experience," he continued. "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."

    Lisa O'connor / Getty Images

    "To be honest, I don’t know where my voice lives in all of this, but my new intention is to challenge this very broken system. I do know that I want to use media and entertainment as advocacy. I want to tell inclusive, representative stories. I want to reconcile my identity and come to terms with who I am, despite the pain."

    Paula Lobo / Walt Disney Television via Getty

    You can read Charles's full essay here.

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