So this is going to be a bit sappy, but… in short representation in media matters. Avatar was so important in me accepting my racial background (and only now do I fully realize it)
I started watching avatar when I was 12 (Aang’s age. Now, I’m Korra’s age, 21) - I was supposed to be “over” cartoons and kid stuff (and you all know what kind of pressures there are in the hell that is middle school) but I couldn’t stop. I watched and rewatched every aired episode… but didn’t tell anybody, until somewhere mid season two I emailed my friend who confessed to the same imagined sin. We became closer than ever.
Avatar was a sort of gateway drug into the world of anime for us. Growing up with a Japanese mother, I had been familiar with anime since I could speak, but again I associated this with childhood - something I thought I grew out of. Coming back to it, and seeing how adult and intelligent it could be (and was always) I stopped apologizing for what I liked.
But really I stopped apologizing for who I was. I look asian, but for a while I think I was trying to run away from it. There were stereotypes that I didn’t think I fit, and I wasn’t Chinese goddamit, and how could you associate me with those other asians. And I’m half white too you know.
I wanted to be half white because in the books that I read, and the shows that I watched, “normal” was white. Then the token asian characters were just so… asian. I wasn’t asian, I was me. I wanted to be white because it was the default, and so didn’t get in the way of who I actually was. I didn’t want to be a stereotype
Only later did I realize that of course there was that broad spectrum in asian as well. I could point and say “look, the fire nation and the earth kingdom have so many different customs… look at how witty toph is, look at zuko’s depth of character, look at the differences” THAT is why it as so important for the avatar universe to be completely asian for me. It is stupid to imagine anyone “without color” because we aren’t all a default, we are all different. Avatar is intrinsically east asian, but nobody is “that asian guy.” That is the point.
There was no default asian. I could see myself in the avatar universe - hell, for a while I wanted nothing more to actually be in it.
So thank you avatar creators for doing your research, creating a complex world, and making me that much prouder of my heritage.
Yeah I would be totally cool with that, thanks for asking! I only ask if you do, I get to see the result :)