Superhero for change- Why Shang-Chi is Relevant Beyond The Box Office

Cecilia Wessinger
9 min readSep 6, 2021

Transformative shift towards belonging and inclusion, not just an (Asian) American story.

MARVEL STUDIOS~Ying Nan (Michelle Yeoh) and Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

A few years ago I attended “Black Panther”, the night before the official release at the insistence of a friend. The fact that she is black and had never seen a Marvel superhero movie was significant. It was a compelling experience viewing it with her, as she saw someone who looked like her depicted in a powerful figure on the big screen. I was so moved, I felt the need to write about it publicly, hence my first post on Medium (Shift Happens).

The night before the official release of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, I invited a (different) friend, who happens to work on building inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems, to attend the movie with me. As a long time Marvel fan, the experience may not have been the same as my Black Panther newbie friend’s, but it was transformative all the same.

Growing up as an immigrant to the US, in Flushing, NY back in the 70’s, I spent a lot of time around people who did not look like me. It was a predominantly Irish, Italian and Jewish neighborhood at the time; difficult to imagine if you walk along Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue today. Back then, there was a good chance I was the only Asian person on a given block, grabbing a slice of pizza at Gloria’s, then hanging out at Jimmy’s Music World. THE Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood at that time was Lum’s. It was a staple that opened in the 1940’s, ironically by the great grandfather of Nora Lum, aka “Nora from Queens”, better known as Awkwafina, who also stars in “Shang- Chi” as Katy. I miss the roast pork turnovers!

Being an immigrant, for me, meant trying to blend in, which is more difficult since I do not pass for white. I was embarrassed being sent to school with a bento type lunch, while my classmates ate PB&J and bologna sandwiches. I begged my mother to pack me an ‘American’ lunch or better yet, let me buy a meal from the school cafeteria. Funny to think of the institutional food served as a way to assimilate and feel a sense of belonging. I did not realize what a sacrifice that must have been for my parents. We paid the full price, even though we might have qualified for a reduced meal. We did not know there were discounts, since they…

Cecilia Wessinger

Community & Ecosystem Builder, Collaborator, Catalyst, Speaker/ Facilitator. Lover of words, ideas and people.