Can a Tiktoker Change Society?
The truth never has to apologize! In talking to Ryisan Champion, it is obvious that this is one of the rules he lives by. Ryisan is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He has taken to Tiktok, as a way of sharing his experiences from living here in Taiwan. Moreover, the content he creates, prepares others for the truths of living abroad. For a little over a year now, he has been been brutally honest about society and culture, here in Taiwan.
Moving abroad will never be an easy thing for any expat. That’s because of what we call culture shock. Many of us took the decision, from a young age, to move to the other side of the world, namely Asia. Being this far away from what one knows, you are sure to come across ideas and behaviors that are diametrically opposed to what you remember from back home. Some of these things oppose who you are.
Ryisan and I are kindred spirits in so many ways. We are both black American men. We are close to the same age. Both of us have spent over a decade traveling the cities of Asia. After all of this time, we have both seen things that have shocked and confounded us, regarding the culture in modern Asia.
Ryisan is starkly different from me, in 1 crucial way. He has a six-year-old daughter. Her mother is Taiwanese. As he told me, he stepped up to the responsibility of raising a family, even with this being in another country. Having a family here, compels him to interact directly with the culture, in instances where most expats can ignore things that irk them about Taiwan.
At this stage in life, we as expats, all have our various coping methods for dealing with a life that is often times impossible to deal with. I blog! I spread ideas that promote understanding between people and groups from different backgrounds. Ryisan spreads information. He departs from the rosy, starry-eyed picture that you are likely to see about this country, online. He simultaneously forces local Taiwanese people to take a critical look at things that are flawed here.
In speaking with Ryisan, one thing is made abundantly clear. He has not become complacent! The culture we find ourselves in is one of assimilation. One set of ideas or values is practiced here. Because everyone behaves a certain way, all the time, you are bombarded by a certain set of behaviors. The collective consciousness becomes like an ocean with the full weight of an ocean. It is much easier to swim with the flow of this tide rather than to rise against it when you know it is wrong.
Because Ryisan is a father, he also has to be a role model. He and I discussed this notion. Contrary to the stigma that follows black men around the world, he as well as the vast majority of us take this job very seriously. His in-laws did not believe he could live up to the title of father. He has proven them wrong and this fact has strengthened their bond as a family.
Being outspoken has definitely come at a price. He approaches life in Taiwan with some of the caution of being a marked man. He has been threatened. He has lost income. He has been shunned by people who could have been friends or at least allies. None of this has deterred him from speaking his mind.
Most people in Taiwan, even people I know personally, disagree with or down right hate his message. Their argument is that if he lives in Taiwan he should be more respectful of the customs in this society. If he cannot adjust, then he should simply leave. Ryisan clearly has a different opinion. He is in Taiwan, telling Taiwan that he has witnessed a serious lack of integrity here which needs to be addressed.
He does this for his family. Although they are mixed, they are also Taiwanese. So is this hate he spews or is it love?