Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou (And HAPA New Year)!

That's Hawai'ian, literally, for "happy, year, new".

Speaking of the islands, I always get a chuckle out of reading news stories about Hawai'i. Mostly written by mainlanders, the articles usually reflect the writers' unfamiliarity with things Hawai'ian. I have to admit that I, too, was surprised when I first moved to Honolulu over a decade ago. I guess I was expecting to see Native Hawai'ians running around in grass skirts and speaking their beautiful language that sounds of sea waves. Instead, what I found was Asians...lots of Asians. The Asian influence in Hawai'i is strong, yet they've also embraced Hawai'ian culture and managed to meld it with their own traditions; creating a unique blend of both--much like us multiracial folks.

It tickles me that AP contributors reporting about Obama vacationing in Kailua Oahu identified the city as being "close to downtown" when it's way over on windward side. They also wrote things like "SHAVED ICE" when everyone in Hawai'i says "SHAVE ICE". There's a loose national language operating over there--a blend of Hawai'ian, Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Tagalog, Portuguese, English, etc. "all mix up" and spit out in a special way. I find it very similar to speaking to my mother who didn't arrive in the U.S. until she was 33, lived in segregated Richmond Texas for two years, then Germany for three. By the time, she had any opportunity to learn standard English, she was too busy working and raising two daughters. When I talk to my mom, it's like she has her own language.

Mom: "We go store now? I go buy green onion for natto."
Me: "Well...I was watching Atsuhime..."
Mom: "You not want to?"
Me: "Oh, all right."
Mom: "You no have to go."
Me: "I'll go. I'll go."

When I was a lot younger and living in our all white neighborhood devoid of immigrants, other kids upon meeting my mother would rudely state in front of her, "I can't understand what she's saying." While living in Hawai'i, I often thought how much easier it would've been for her had my father been stationed there instead of Ft. Lewis. But at Ft. Lewis, she had all her Japanese warbride girlfriends and they spoke rapid Japanese whenever they gathered for a lively game of hanafuda. I remember hanging around the table hoping to pick up on what they were saying until my mom would shoo me away.

But I digress. In case you aren't aware, biracial actress/singer/dancer Earth Kitt died last week. You may be too young to remember, but Ms. Kitt was banished from the White House when she told Lady Bird Johnson that the U.S. should not be in Vietnam. For years afterwards, Kitt was forced to eke out a career overseas as she was blacklisted and investigated by the FBI and CIA. Still, she persevered and enjoyed many successes throughout her life. Even though she started out working in the cotton fields of South Carolina, Kitt became an entertainer after she moved in with an aunt and attended the High School of Performing Arts in New York. The child of a black/Cherokee mother and white father, Kitt was a victim of One Drop Rule--unable to proclaim her multiracial heritages in a mono-racial world. She was 81.

On to something sunnier. It appears that the film Watermelon Sushi is making some progress lately. Besides the addition of Associate Producer Derrick Holmes of Tokyo, we've recently welcomed playwright Jaz Dorsey of Nashville into the circle also as an Associate Producer. Both men are aggressively clearing a path to production dollars, so stay tuned in '09 to see how far we travel. And, we're still selling Hapa*Teez t-shirts to help fund the film. If you haven't bought one yet, check out the newly added designs at: http://www.cafepress.com/hapateez

Remember, if you've made a purchase, contact us to make sure we have your name for the rear crawl credits: hiphapa@comcast.net

That's Chinese/Korean/American Scott Lee in the photo above toasting with tea at our favorite restaurant in Hawai'i. And, that's me in the photo here celebrating a new year in Germany. I wish I could remember who our family friends are in the pix with me, but it's been awhile. I think the African American sistah's name was Betty.

In closing, I wish you and yours omedetto gozaimasu, hau'oli makahiki hou and a HAPA new year!


Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka And Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!

Aloha!

No matter how you celebrate (or don't) the hollah-daze, I send you wishes of enjoyment for yourself, your family and your friends. For metaphysicians like myself, this season is really about the Winter Solstice when we've reached the end of ever-darkening days and begin to see a return to longer light-infused ones as the Sun increases its face time. As an Astrologer, I view the Capricorn Sun as effecting a serious influence on folks assessing their year about to pass and proclaiming resolutions of change for the new one coming.

Personally, what I hope to accomplish this next year is a serious presence for all multiracial people everywhere. (Please see the Hip Hapa Homeez group on Facebook). The insistence of major media in continuing to label Barack Obama as "the first black or African American" man to ascend the presidential throne is an affront to anyone who can count. One-half white and one-half black adds up to one mixed-race person. If Obama doesn't care to confront the issues of One Drop Rule and create an understanding of how and why this weird math is still practiced today, I swear, we mixies must unite and send him a petition to address this. Ya feel me?!?

Here's a recent article about the very subject:


And, here's a comment in reply from Michael Shenton of London:

"Obama should thank 'former African Americans' for making his journey possible and not forget this. In actual fact, without the removal of the anti-miscegenation pact, Obama would not have been born. So, his very existence owes to this fact. As a 'mixy', I'm very proud of him. He is our first recognized pres (some argue that 5 or 6 other former pressies really were mixed). Love, Mikester."

On to other rants. Last month, I had the opportunity to screen the film Skin starring Sophie Okonedo. Based on the true story of Sandra Laing, this movie has the potential of being a great learning experience and so needs a wide release. Sandra was born to two white parents during apartheid South Africa when people were separated into categories of black, white, colored and Indian. Due to some strange genetic development, Sandra became darker-skinned and more curly-haired as she got older. Can you imagine having a white racist father as you look more Negro-ish every day? The funny thing is that Sandra's father loved his daughter and insisted that she was white and be treated as if she were. You understand, he looked down on blacks and other racial minorities while doing so. But all the same, he went to court and had his daughter officially classified as white. When Sandra ran away to be with a black man (and his people whom she felt more comfortable with), her father threatened to kill her and her lover. Here's a YouTube clip of the real Sandra Laing (keep your tissues close):


Last week, I wrote about Jesse B., who was upset over the casting of the new M. Night Shyamalan film based on a TV series called The Last Airbender. The story features Asian characters, but Shyamalan cast only Caucasian actors. I'm still not all that hip to what's hapa'nin' with the project, but I do have to say--lawdamercy! I had no idea how talented Ms. B. is. Check her out here:


I know you're all probably anxious to return to your hapa hollah-daze, so I'll let you go. btw, new Hapa*Teez t-shirt designs will be posted over the next few days.

And, all the Xmas decos you see here are courtesy of my mother. Actually, they're from last year as I couldn't locate pix of this year's.

Mele Kalikimaka!


Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Multi-Culti Statues, "Blackwomanface", "Yellowface", And More

Having written about the Hollywood/LaBrea statues last week, I feel like I'm on a roll. So, allow me to introduce a few more of my favorite likenesses in bronze--or whatever they're made of.

This summer, I was hanging out at my old stompin' grounds of Waikiki where one of the world's most intriguing Hip Hapa Homeez once lived. When I first moved to Honolulu in 1994, I found an apartment on Ka'iulani Avenue. Stupidly, I had no clue about the wonderful woman for whom the street was named. But that changed fast as I studied Hawai'ian language at Iolani Palace, and read everything I could find about the history of the royal family.

Today, Princess Ka'iulani claims ownership of her own triangular-shaped park on Kuhio Boulevard. Since all the shots I took of her statue remain on my vid cam, I've posted someone else's rendition of her that I saw displayed in a shop window, below.

Born to Princess Likelike, Ka'iulani was an intelligent child filled with grace. Her father, a Scotch businessman named Archibald Cleghorn, sent her abroad to be educated after her mother died when she was just 12. While Ka'iulani was gone, her aunt Lilio'kalani was deposed as Queen and Hawai'i was annexed by the U.S. Next in line for the throne, Ka'iulani travelled to America to beseech President Cleveland to restore her Kingdom, but her words were lost on Congress. Back home, Ka'iulani suffered greatly from the loss of her country and her crown, and fell ill. A beautiful woman who loved beauty, she kept peacocks as pets. It's said that at the exact moment when she died (at age 23), her peacocks screamed ceaselessly.

Another, more popular, figure in Hawai'ian culture is Duke Kahanamoku. Still, not a lot of people know that he was responsible for introducing surfing outside of Hawai'i in the 1920's. Contrary to popular belief, surfing did not start in Malibu, but was a sport many Native Hawai'ians enjoyed until, in 1821, European missionaries banned it--in Hawai'i!

A statue of Duke--the "original beach boy"--stands today on Waikiki Beach where tourists and locals alike often adorn it with long leis. A gold-medal Olympic swimming champion, the brown-skinned Duke often encountered racism on his many travels around the globe. Yet, he always remained stoically dignified even when he was shoved into stereotyped roles in Hollywood movies. A restaurant bearing Duke's name is located near his statue and, not surprisingly--at least up until 2003--I never saw anyone not Caucasian working there.

This week, I received an email from Jesse B who read my article about "yellowface" that was published many moons ago. Upset that a TV animation series, The Last Airbender, based on mostly Asian characters was being made with only Caucasian actors, she contacted me for my opinion.

Coincidentally, over the weekend, I watched the movie Norbit with my mom and her husband. While I was aware that a lot of BBB's (big, black, beautiful) sistahs were upset with the film because of Eddie Murphy's portrayal of a stereotyped overweight, angry, black woman--"blackwomanface", if you will--I was also astounded by his nerve to perform in "yellowface". If you've never seen this flick, don't. But if for some unfathomable reason you have, you must've felt like I did. First of all, Eddie don't ever try to do an "Asian" accent again. I don't know why your character had to be Chinese, but trust me, no one hailing from any existing East Asian country speaks like your Mr. Wong. If for no other reason than because of how African Americans suffered in the past by white actors playing "blackface", you should've displayed some sensitivity towards "yellowface". For shame, Eddie! But, then again, $159 million worldwide box office probably expunged you of any such feelings of disgrace.

Back to Jesse B and her distress over the upcoming film directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Since I'm not familiar with the TV show's characters, writers, or the soon-to-be-made movie, all I can say is that the only South Asian I've ever seen in a Shyamalan studio release has been him. Why is that, I wonder? I know Shyamalan probably thinks he's doing a Hitchcock number by walking onto his set and even giving himself some speaking lines. But aren't there any other actors of color who could play roles in his movies? It's the same question I want to ask another Indian American filmmaker who recently made a short with an all-white cast. Is this the film you wanted to make, or did you feel you had to make it like that because of how Hollywood continues to perpetuate racist stereotypes? Does the term self-hating come into play here, or is it all about the benjamins? Any comments, folks?

Meanwhile, things are cookin' over at Facebook. If you're there, please join our group, Hip Hapa Homeez. And, remember our Hapa*Teez t-shirts and Watermelon Sushi film, too.


Until next time, I promise to always be...

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hollywood, Atsuhime, Inarizushi And More


One of my favorite multi-culti works of art features four female statues standing on the corner of LaBrea where it meets Hollywood Boulevard. Made of some type of silver metal (I'm not sure what), the four of them together support a contraption atop their heads which, in turn, holds a vertical sign that reads 'Hollywood'.

More or less representing the four main races are likenesses of actresses Dorothy Dandridge (African American), Mae West (Caucasian), Anna Mae Wong (Chinese American), and Dolores Del Rio (Mexican American).

Well-known back in the day, each of these ladies broke barriers in her own way. Because I've written several articles about Anna Mae Wong, I'm most familiar with her story and how she became an actress after being chosen as an extra during a shoot in her neighborhood. Although her life ended in 1961 when she was just 56, Wong enjoyed an unprecedented show biz career despite being forced to portray Asian stereotypes. Never allowed an onscreen romance that came to fruition, Wong often joked about having to "die a million deaths" in her films. Indeed, Wong was an enigma and her career a paradox. Acting during a time when white performers would don makeup to look Asian (or as it was called "appearing in yellowface"), Wong was even forbidden to kiss any "Asian" played by a Caucasian actor.

Dorothy Dandridge's life was also a dichotomy. Her highest achievement as the third African American actress nominated for a Best Actress Oscar was negated by a host of personal tragedies. And, like Wong, Dandridge suffered from being forced to play stereotypes--mostly of sexually promiscuous women with loose morals. Also like Wong, Dandridge died young--at age 42 of a drug overdose.

Were these women victims of their race or their gender, or both?

There are plenty of women victims in the NHK taiga series Atsuhime. Briefly, Atsuhime (left) is a princess of the Satsuma clan who was pressured into marrying Shogun #13 to unite her clan with the larger ruling Tokugawa clan. But the Shogun has since died leaving Atsuhime a young widow and "mother" to the new Shogun. In the latest episode, the Emperor's sister, Kazunomiya (right), has finally recognized that Atsuhime is her ally. Forced to marry the new Shogun (Atsuhime's "son" in order to unify the "royals" with the Tokugawa samurai clan, Kazunomiya was at first horribly unhappy having to adjust to life in Edo (Tokyo) after leaving the Emperor's Kyoto digs. I love watching this show where chicks rule! And, having my mother explain her Japanese history during each episode is an added treat.

Speaking of treats, my mom decided to get into the mixed-race game recently by making both brown rice and white rice inarizushi. Check it out. She even marked each row
with flags for easy identification.

Hey, thanks again to the Mixed Chicks for having me participate in their November 26 podcast to talk about interesting names of multi-ethnic folks. I've explained mine so many times here that I'm sure you don't want a repeat.

At last, the new Watermelon Sushi website is up! Some tweaking remains to be done, but that will happen over the next few weeks. For now, please check it out and email me your comments. So many folks over the years have been supportive of this film endeavor, so I send you all a shout-out.


Also, if you've purchased a Hapa*Teez t-shirt, drop me a line to make sure I have the spelling of your name correct.


HAPA Hollah Daze!

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

HTML Hell And CSS Confusion!

Due to continuing issues with html and css (what sadist invented this torture mechanism?), I won't have anything to say tonight.

Hit me back next week for further developments in the world of Watermelon Sushi (hopefully, the new site will be up by then).

In stressed-out frustration,

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

HAPA Family Dysfunction Day!

If those of you who are monoracial think you've got problems with family dysfunction during the holidays, consider what's it like for mixed-race folks who have the addition of two or more ethnicities to deal with when it comes to practicing customs and rituals.

Personally, my mother is not all that into holidays and her apathetic husband, being the atheist that he is, frees me from some of the rhetoric that other multiracial people tell me they experience around this time of the year. Do we do Christmas, Xmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, or Tet--or, none of the above? Drop me a comment and tell me what you do in your house, how you do it, and why.

Thanks to the Mixed Chicks, Fanshen and Heidi, for another great podcast today. Some of us were on the show explaining our complicated mixed-heritage names. You can listen to any of the past podcasts by going to:


And, Allison Manushikin, who is searching for mixed-race writers, sent me the following email:

Mixed Race People!!!

Having a hard time deciding where you fit, frustrated with identity politics? Got something to say?!!! Mestizo Revelations is a 'zine inspired potential book project that is about examining race and what being mixed is/means, without necessarily having to tie in to other ethnic movements to find validity. Some of my friends and I are tired of old paradigms in identity politics and are interested in challenging those paradigms by describing where we (as mixed people) are now, philosophically.

As you know, mixed race literature is often quite stagnant, especially ethnic studies, so this is the antidote to all of that. We are looking for voices, new to the scene, to speak about not only our personal histories as mixed race people, but also to submit commentaries on identity politics as a whole, through essays, poems, or visual presentations. The project will also include photo shoots. Eventually, I'd like to pursue a grant to fund publishing this.

This is a fun project for all involved and I'd like to emphasize a sense of humor in your writing--don't write as though you're preaching, remember you're writing for an audience that may not have any idea about our experiences, and reach deep inside yourself for interesting histories and ideas! (Think the tongue in cheek, yet innovative and political humor of Hyphen Magazine). Please forward widely to other mestizos who might be interested as well!!!

The deadline for submission is January 31, 2009. Please contact Allison at Nocivilized@gmail.com or 323-706-8320 with your pieces or questions and I'd be happy to show you a sample of what we've started working on already. Or, alternatively, you can read my blog manushkin.wordpress.com which conveys the sort of direction I'm heading in.

*************************************************************************************
Back to the holidays--for those of you who participate, it's never too early to go shopping and if you're looking for something special for your hapa friends, check out Hapa*Teez at Cafe Press. Besides proclaiming hapa pride, you'll be getting a good bargain, help support the film http://ww.watermelonsushi.com and you'll receive a rear crawl credit, too.

That's Eva, Teri and Cassie above modeling Hapa*Teez. Make your purchase here:


Until next week, I humbly remain

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mixed-Race Mutts Unite! Arf!

It appears that the idea of mixed-race folks uniting to create their own communities is disturbing to some. It's almost (but light years away still) reminiscent of how some were bothered by the black nationalist movement of the 1960's. In fact, someone (a social networking site "friend") was threatened enough to send me the following email (I've edited for profanity, punctuation and spelling--the bad grammar stayed):

"Hey dere sweet Yayoi...No thanks your post which I found on my email alert today...I gotta pull yer coat a bit on this one...Please excuse my response if you find it harsh, and please take no offense as it is meant only constructively, but: You are seemingly so into this really quite inconsequential mixed "mutt" race thing--do a black/white parental mix make a black or white child?--WHO the (eff) CARES? Like, come on, does it really matter much, or at all? Like, get off it awready--it's quite meaningless and your obsessing on it makes it in and of itself somewhat demeaning to all of us that you direct it to, having to read the inner pain of it, involving us in your deep hang-up on it. Can you just glean perhaps it's just not really of any importance or consequence this mixed racial thing you're into? My three racially mixed grandchildren (in their 20's) never even mention it ever, or show or indicate any negative consciousness of it at all! They just exemplify both cultures so beautifully! I would think that's more where the whole thing with our, Thank God, newly elected President should be at--where our society and interpersonal reactions should truly be at! Let it go, forget the demeaning "mutt" race thing awready...it's truly quite meaningless and so way unimportant to even mention--let alone obsess on! Include me out, next time. Thanks. Love, peace."

*************************************************************************************

I'm not going to comment, but I'd love to hear yours if you have one.

Now, on to some good news. Watermelon Sushi's Associate Producer Derrick Holmes, who lives in Tokyo, has officially joined our team. He's created a page on the Japanese social networking site, mixi, so if you live in Japan, please check us out.

As for the NHK taiga series, Atsuhime, it's now down to the last few episodes. The poor mother of the shogun (by default because Atsuhime's shogun husband died leaving a chosen, adult heir) is facing an uphill battle. The Emperor's sister has been ordered to marry the shogun to show unity against foreigners in the country. But Atsuhime grieves upon learning that the sister already has a fiancee she'll have to dump. "Women are always used as political tools," Atsuhime, bathed in tears, tells her court. But previews of the next episode shows that the Emperor's sister will spurn Atsuhime's empathetic friendship.

Hey, if you're looking for a unique holiday gift, remember Hapa*Teez t-shirts for our special community members. Very soon now, new designs will be posted. So, avoid the rush and order several now. Every purchase of a Hapa*Teez t-shirt will go towards financing the Watermelon Sushi film, and every purchaser will receive a rear crawl credit. Just drop me a line to let me know that you bought one.

It's apropos that we close as we opened--with talk about mutts! Above, is a pix of Associate Producer Derrick Holmes posing as one.

Until next week, I remain...

Your Hip Hapa Mutt,
Yayoi

Bow Wow Wow Yippee Yo Yippee Yay!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Arf! When Will The One Drop Rule Cease?!?

Okay, hip hapa homeez, I'm still recovering from film festival festivities so I'll just leave you with this thought tonight.

After a friend alerted me to the link below (thanks, Kahlil!),


I read the story with a shake of my head. Evidently, our new hip hapa homee prez recently referred to himself as a "mutt". I know a lot of you do that, too. But my question to AP reporter Alan Fram is this: Dude, can you not do the math?

Here is a direct quote from his article:

"By now, almost everyone knows that Obama's mother was white and father was black, putting him on track to become the nation's first African-American president."

Besides hyphenating African American (does anyone still do that?), reporter Fram obviously struggles with elementary mathematics. In case you missed it, let me run that by you again:

"...mother was white and father was black...the nation's first African-American president."

If being half white and half black equals one African American then why doesn't half white and half black equal one Caucasian? 'nuff said. I'm off to Hapawood where hip hapa homeez rule!

Oh, yeah. Now that's a real mutt in the pix above.

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Back Soon

Since I'm currently covering the American Film Institute Film Festival and American Film Market for http://www.FilmFestivalToday.com, I'll keep this week's blog short and sweet.

Hey! Can I get a big up to the voters who put our first HIP HAPA HOMEE in the White House?!?

I'll be back next week with more hip hapa news. Meanwhile, check out this pix of me covering my first Pan African Film and Arts Festival for Film Festival Today when it was a mere magazine--many moons ago.

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No Dead Animals In My Tendon, Jero And Atsuhime

I don't know about other hapas, but whenever I spend time with either one of my parents, I take on the cultural qualities of that one's particular ethnic group. For instance, if I'm hanging out with my dad (my folks have been divorced for decades), I end up reading all of the Ebony and Jet magazines laid out on his coffee table. Now, that's not to say that all black people read Ebony and Jet, but you get my meaning. My dad and I will often discuss politics, too--the state of black folks today versus the Civil Rights movement of yesteryear. However, I don't tend to eat the food my dad eats mainly because he's from Texas and his parents owned a barbecue joint. I am, after all, vegan (even though I'll admit to stuffing many a pig's foot into my mouth back in the day when I didn't know any better).


Whenever I visit my mother, though, I'm always ready to chow down. Mindful of my special diet, my mom tends to make me my own meal separate from what she serves her husband. And, like a true Japanese mother, she will eat what I (the guest) eats instead of what she cooked for her husband. A couple of weeks ago, she made me tendon; that's slang for tempura donburi. Tempura, as you may know, is veggies (and shrimp for those who insist on murdering the poor crustaceans) dipped in batter and fried. Donburi is a dish served in an individual bowl featuring veggies and/or dead animal flesh (call it what it is!) simmered in a slightly sweetened shoyu-based sauce and heaped on hot, white rice. The tendon my mom made me was tempura carrots, onions and pumpkin on top of fresh gohan. I was also treated to her home-grown edamame (steamed soybeans). Oishi!

Earlier, we were watching our favorite show--The NHK Amateur Singing Contest (aka Nodojiman)--when, lo and behold, the phenomenal Jero appeared as a guest singer. This is the kid who hails from Pittsburgh, whose mother is hapa Japanese and black, and whose Japanese grandmother taught him to speak her language and sing enka--a type of music that reminds of me the old R&B songs where the man is begging, crying and carrying on over a woman. Enka is very emotional like that, and is almost always about love. So, I don't think it's necessarily a stretch that a brother like Jero is so into it. Like the old school crooners, he feels the lyrics deep down in his soul. True, he's singing in Japanese, but he knows what the words mean because he knows the language. There's also some very specific expressions that go along with singing enka. One can't be too showy and drop to one's knees like James Brown because Japanese culture isn't about that. Even though Jero wears his signature baseball cap and baggy jeans, he's got the Japanese inflections down.

Later on in the day, my mom's husband and I watched another episode of Atsuhime. My mother claims not to care about
Japanese history, but her Caucasian husband and I can't get enough of the taiga series. Sadly, Atsuhime's husband, the shogun, dies in this episode and because of the turmoil surrounding the choice of heir, no one tells Atsu about his demise until a month later. Now, she's mad because weeks before the shogun instructed her to attend the cabinet meetings and become a part of the political process because she's so smart and beats him at go all the time. But now that he's no longer around, none of the guys are taking Atsuhime seriously. I can't wait 'til she starts kicking some butt. Her kimono may be wrapped around her legs like a mermaid's tail, but you watch--she'll figure out how to strike back. That girl is baaad!

Hey, drop me a line and tell me how your parents' differing cultures affect you. Do you act the same way with each of them, or not?

Above are pix of my tendon dish, my mom's garden-fresh edamame, Jero's appearance on Nodojiman, and NHK's Atsuhime.

Until next time, I swear to be...

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hip Hapa Homee In Hapa*Teez!

Dear Bloggies,

Please note that this week's posting will be late as I await the downloading of some special pix to accompany said blog.

Meanwhile, feast your eyes on my Hip Hapa Homee, Cassie, stylin' and profilin' in her Hapa*Teez t-shirt. Go 'head on, Cassie!

Hatin' on her? Don't. Instead, order a Hapa*Teez t-shirt yourself, and help support a film.


In a minute...

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Secret Lives (That's A Plural) Of Bees (Also A Plural)

This week, I took a time out to attend a press screening of The Secret Life of Bees--as it is grammatically incorrectly titled. After hearing the buzz (ha ha!) about the Gina Prince Bythewood-directed feature, I was eager to view it. Are you kidding me? We've got a black female director, a cast of well-known black female stars, and a story taking place in the south during the Civil Rights movement. It sounds like a winning formula, but this flick is no Mississippi Burning--nor Eve's Bayou.

Instead, it focuses on a white teenager named Lily (clever!) (played by Dakota Fanning) who, as a child, loses her mother and then runs smack dab into a family of black women beekeepers who end up taking care of her the way they used to take care of her mama.

No one can argue that this movie doesn't attempt to integrate blacks and whites, but it is heavy on white Lily as victim even though a black woman, Rosaleen, (Jennifer Hudson) is badly beaten by whites for attempting to register to vote. I never knew if Rosaleen had a mother or just magically appeared one day to knee-growishly guide Lily to her destiny.

Another character, May (portrayed by the super-talented and biracial Sophie Okonedo), is a sad creature whose twin sister's (April's) death often leads her to visit a wailing wall just outside of her home. I wanted to know more, too, about what drove May to the edge.

Curiously, the Watermelon Sushi film also has a character named April. In fact, while watching Alicia Keys (another biracial babe) playing June, I had a revelation that she could play April. For one thing, if you look closely, you'll notice that Alicia has very slanted eyes. Ha! Could she possibly be a Hapa Japa--someone who's half Japanese--passing for black/white? Hmmm. Unlike Watermelon's April though, Bees' June character is bold and brash. In fact, June acts more like April's sister, Michiko.

Did you get that? June can play April even though April acts more like May and Michiko acts more like June. Figure it out here: http://www.watermelonsushi.com

And, no, I didn't read the Bees book so I'm sure there's plenty I missed about white Lily and her black female friends. If you've read it, please drop me a line.

btw, the last time I checked, the word "bees" with an "s" on the end indicates that it's a plural. So, what's up with this movie title?

On to more news. Tomorrow is the first day of the International Black Film Festival of Nashville. Besides Boris Kodjoe (yet another biracial actor--lookout, we're taking over!) hosting Saturday night's gala, the Watermelon Sushi trailer will be featured in a special category for films seeking finishing funds. Big ups to Jaz, Hazel and Ingrid for your efforts, and good fortune with the fest! http://www.ibffnashville.com

And, don't forget the sooner we sell more Hapa*Teez t-shirts, the sooner we finish making Watermelon Sushi.

Until next time, I remain...bzzz...bzzz...

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Chill Pill Week And Mixed-Race Pets

These are crazy-busy times for all of us. In addition to the rhetoric created by the upcoming presidential election, we're stressed over our financial situations--not to mention the future of the whole world.

Instead of expounding on any of these issues or how they're impacting those of us who are of multi-racial heritages, I'm taking a chill pill this week and starting a feature about mixed-race pets. From now on, whenever this author is too overwhelmed to write her weekly blog, she will, instead, post a photo of a multi-ethnic pet along with a blurb or two. So, send me those snapshots and stories of your favorite mixed-breeds!

This week, I present Ms. Muffin. Of both terrier and poodle heritages, Ms. Muffin admits that she sometimes struts about in her chi-chi curly, white coat barking with a French accent and insisting on being addressed as Mademoiselle Croissant. Then, Ms. Muffin's terrier hunting instincts takes over and she begins digging at the seat cushions of the sofa and yelping at the mail carrier and any neighbors that make the mistake of walking in front of her masters' house. Although Ms. Muffin denies that she is a confused mixed-breed pup, she does own up to a fierce pride in both of her ethnicities. See Ms. Muffin pictured above.

On another note, big ups to the folks at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville--and a particular shout-out to Jaz, Hazel and Ingrid--for selecting the Watermelon Sushi trailer to be featured in a special category for films seeking finishing funds. Go to:

btw, It's never too early to start thinking about holiday gifts. This year, consider Hapa*Teez t-shirt for your multi-racial friends and family members. Besides making unique gifts, Hapa*Teez t-shirts are financing a film about us. You can get a rear crawl credit and support our movie by making a purchase. New designs are in the works now. Check 'em out: http://www.cafepress.com/hapateez

Okay. That's it. I'm as grumpy as the rest of you over current world affairs. Let's all get some rest. Until next time, I remain...

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Lovers In A Dangerous Time

One of my favorite songs by the late, great Lucky Dube is about a couple in South Africa during apartheid. The man is black and the woman is white, and Dube sings about them being "lovers in a dangerous time".

Unfortunately, Dube was murdered around this time last year, but his powerful lyrics will always remain.

Few of us living now remember a time that loving someone outside of your race could result in the deaths of one or both of you. But I am aware of several interracial pairings that were considered scandalous--and even resulted in tragedy for their participants.

For one, Swedish American actress Inger Stevens who was found dead in her home in 1970 of an overdose was secretly married to an African American actor named Ike Jones. Their marriage was a secret because Stevens had a Hollywood career and was well known for the TV show, The Farmer's Daughter, that she starred in through 1966. Whether the overdose was intentional was never made clear, but one can imagine the stress of having to keep a relationship as intimate as marriage under cover.

Another famous name was Sammy Davis, Jr., a very talented performer who happened to be "colored" as we were called back then. Davis married a Swede named May Britt in 1960. Their marriage was considered so taboo that Davis was dis-invited from the White House where he was supposed to have performed for John Kennedy. Apparently, he was so upset that he befriended Kennedy's Republican opponent, Richard Nixon. A lot of so-called liberal people were appalled to see Davis hanging out with Nixon, but who could blame him when they learned the story behind his decision? Davis and Britt ended up divorcing, and Davis later married an African American dancer. Who knows how much racism influenced his decision to split from his white wife and marry a black woman.

Then, there was the beautifully sensitive Jean Seberg, another actress of Swedish ancestry. During the height of her career, she openly supported the Black Panther Party which set off FBI head J. Edgar Hoover. He went after her with a vengeance, tapping her phone and spreading a rumor that she was pregnant with a half black child fathered by a Panther Party member. Seberg was seven months along at the time--1970. She claimed to have become so traumatized that she went into premature labor and two days after her daughter was born, the baby died. Although Seberg married mostly Caucasian men and an Algerian, she died in 1979 at age 41 of suicide. How much did the pain and drama caused by intertwining her life with people of color play in her killing herself?

As you see, some of us have lived through some dangerous times. If you're free to love whomever you want to these days, count yourself fortunate and thank those who came before you who took the full brunt of having an interracial relationship.

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Light-Skinned Men Organize!

Although I couldn't get permission by press time to post the following email I received from film producer Sheldon Lane, I'm going to chance it anyway. All that can happen is that I'm asked to remove it. However, I think this post is important enough to risk punishment--as long as it doesn't involve water-boarding. Read it and tell me if you don't agree.


Light-Skinned Brothers Start Voter Registration Drive For Obama

New Group Organizes For Change!

Extremely pleased that the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama is "bringing light-skinned brothers back", a new organization of black men of very light complexion have launched a voter registration drive aimed at "getting every light-skinned brother to the polls on November 5," said the organization's founder, Dan "White Boy" Williamson.

Williamson organized Light-skin and Interested in True Equity (LITE) to give men like himself a platform to share their experiences for healing purposes and to advocate for equity, especially in the dating game and in the entertainment world.

"Through my research, I have found out that we still do well in corporate America," he admitted.

"(But) these dark-skinned brothers have been on top of the dating and entertainment games for a long time," said the 40 year-old Williamson.

"It's been about 30 years and it's about time! I knew things were looking up for us light brothers when Wesley Snipes got into all that tax trouble with the IRS, " he added. "Folks asking if Barack will paint the White House black if he gets into office. I hope not. I hope he paint it high yella. Call it the High Yella House. That will stop all the cruel ridiculing."

Light-skinned activists also point to the recent incident with Tyson. The male supermodel's recent public display of nakedness was simply another sign that the winds of complexion popularity are changing, explained Williamson.

"He's desperate because he's not the 'it' guy anymore," said Williamson.

The Coalition urges all light-skinned brothers in politics, entertainment, and those in the dating circuit to take their games up a notch because "the playing field just got level again."

************************************************************************************
When it comes to light-skinned black folks, a double standard seems to exist. I'm not sure how much of an issue it is now, but back in the day light-skinned men were considered weak and effeminate. Except for Ron O'Neal's Superfly, there was rarely any light-skinned, or high yella, male movie heroes. From Richard Roundtree's Shaft to Calvin Lockhart's Rev. Deke O'Malley in Cotton Comes to Harlem to William Marshall in Blacula, chocolate brothers were definitely happenin'. True, there was always a Harry Belafonte or two, but the majority of black heartthrobs looked more like Sidney Poitier. I remember my best friends, The Twins, admonishing me not to go out with "yella mens" because they were all latently homosexual. How's that again?

Yet, on the female side, light-skinned women fared better than their darker sisters. Why? In fact, a lot of light-skinned women were actually biracial, but either were coerced into the One Drop Rule, or readily accepted their blackness without attempting to claim their other heritage. Check out Halle Berry today, and in the past stars like Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Lonette McKee, Irene Cara and Jennifer Beals. All of them are either biracial or multiracial, but were presented as being only black. Their lighter skin made them more desirable in Hollywood than the average brown-skinned sister, yet they were still considered monoracially black.

How did browner skin come to be associated with masculinity in the first place? Well, I'm not going to attempt to answer that here, but if you have any ideas I'd like to hear them.

Ah, if only Wesley Snipes would speak to us, but he's too busy applauding his incredible good luck in the photo above (which I snapped at the Pan African Film Festival).

Until later, I am...

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sweet Rice Chronicles

1,000 lashes with a wet udon noodle for me! I totally spaced and forgot to mention this lovely site I ran into last week. For the "black mothers of blasian, black and Asian children", this blog is an information outlet filled with book and film reviews (including Watermelon Sushi) featuring Afro-Asians. Big up to Renee Tecco and her editors!


Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Knee-Grow-fied Hair, Zebra Couples, And The Fresh LaFlesh











Dear Gentle Reader,

I feel so weird these days wearing my hair in a limp, stringy style I like to call "The Sophisticated Knee-Grow". And, as soon as I took a hot iron to my wavy tresses, I noticed how many sistahs do something similar to achieve a so-called "relaxed" hairstyle. Does that mean if we leave our hair in its natural, curly state, it's "tense" or "uptight"? Why must we make the effort to get our hair to "chill" anyway?

I suppose our approval ratings among the dominant majority go up when our hair is not so threatening as it is when worn natural or in an Afro, braids, or the mack daddy of them all--dreadlocks. There's no getting around it, mixed/black and black hair is political. Back in the day, you were either with us (sportin' a big bushy natural) or with them (toning down any perceived statement of anger with a perm and a press). As militants, we were proud to have hair that was untamed--just like us. Nobody named Toby around here! Nowadays, though, it seems that the 1970's never happened. I see so many weaves and wigs on sistahs in every walk of life. And, look at me. I'm using a hot iron! Why? As usual, I have no answers; just lots of questions.

Speaking of Knee-Grow-fied hair, I recently attended a screening of Samuel Jackson's new flick, Lakeview Terrace, in which Mr. Jackson plays an L.A. cop incensed that his new neighbors are a zebra couple. More about that mess later. But in one scene, his teenage daughter, wearing the "Sophisticated Knee Grow" hairstyle, emerges from their next door neighbor's swimming pool. As Kerry Washington's character hands the teen a towel, Kerry's Chaka Khan-like curls bounce and glisten in the sun. The women's hairstyles are a study in contrast. The teen then tells Kerry, "I like your hair". Instead of the obligatory "thanks" that Kerry utters, I think she should have said, "Well, youthful sistah, now that you got your hair wet, just go take a nap without drying and it'll go back home for you." Get it? Take a nap? A nap? Anyway, it was clear that the screenwriters had no clue about black women or, more importantly, the importance of black women's hair to other black women.

What a disappointment. I was looking forward to seeing how Hollywood would approach the story of a black man enraged by his new neighbors being a black woman and her white husband. But not once are we told anything of the history of interracial relationships. Why do so many black men see red when they see black and white? Hello! Does anyone remember a little thing called slavery? How about when white slavemasters raped black female slaves while black male slaves watched helplessly? If the writers would've written that fact in as a sort of a collective consciousness inherent in some black men like Samuel's character, I would've bought the story. But, no. Warning: Spoiler Ahead! Instead, this movie, directed by Neil Labute (In The Company of Men, Your Friends and Neighbors) wants us to believe that the real reason Samuel's character got his drawers all up in a bunch is because his own black wife died in a car crash in the middle of the afternoon while--get this--she was riding around with her white male boss. Lawd. Here's a rare opportunity to put real issues on the table, and what we get is Kerry 's character and her husband (Patrick Wilson) avoiding the "i" word (interracial) like the proverbial elephant in the room. I know there are mixed-race folks out there just dying to share their well-told tales with the world, and instead we're regulated to Hollywood telling us how it is (not!).

Anyway, don't go looking for any history lessons in Lakeview Terrace, but do look for my friend, VALERI ROSS, who plays "Old Lady" in a scene stealer. Me and Val go way back. That's a pix of the talented actress above with me outside an L.A. restaurant circa 2000, I think. The woman between us is writer/teacher Gabrielle Pina.

So far, it's been a wonderful week. The chill author of Biracial Hair, Teri LaFlesh, sent over photos of herself looking fresh in a Hip Hapa Hapa*Teez t-shirt. Instead of hatin' on the sultry sistah, get your own shirt and then send me a snapshot of you in it so I can post it here and on the new Watermelon Sushi website which will be up soon. It will so be up soon! Yes, it will! And, don't forget, you earn a rear crawl credit with your purchase. Contact me at watermelonsushi@comcast.net for more info.

Meanwhile, I remain...

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hip Hapa Homeez' Work Goes On And On
















Aloha blendies, mixies, and multis everywhere!

This morning, our new Watermelon Sushi associate producer in Tokyo sent me the following link and promptly ruined my day. Seriously, this is a sad story so have a box of tissues handy while you read it. Mahalo nui loa, Derrick.


Amazing, isn't it? How humankind divvies itself into groups based on ethnicity? I know that among wildlife there is sometimes a self-enforced thinning of the herd, but don't humans actually have the ability to reason--to analyze and to rationalize? Or, are we just animals walking upright?

If you haven't read the article above yet, you won't know that I'm talking about mixed-race babies in Japan that were abandoned by their American military fathers and Japanese mothers. Often, the mothers came from poor families made even worse off by post-war shortages and economic despair. What this article doesn't cover, however, is the number of babies born out of wedlock to pure-blooded Japanese parents and given away. I'm sure it was nowhere near the numbers for the hapa kids though. I'm just thankful that my father honored his duty, married my mother and brought us to America. What my fate would have been as a half-black child in Tokyo....I can't even imagine. No disrespect to other women under similar circumstances, but one thing I know for certain, my Moms would've never given me up for nothin'. She's just that kinda lady.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting Teri LaFlesh in the flesh! I've been wanting to say that ever since I bumped into Teri in cyberspace. This sistah with a Caucasian father and African American mother has written the most fascinating book called Biracial Hair. Check out Teri's website and her blog to see for yourself:


And, today, I heard from Allison who calls herself a CHEW. She's Chinese and Jewish, and creative as all get out. I've listed the link to her blog, so go for it:


Besides building the new Watermelon Sushi website, I've been busy with so much Hip Hapa Homeez work that I didn't realize the latest taiga was on NHK. As much as I loved the Shinsengumi and Yoshitsune series, I am really digging this one starring a GIRL! Atsuhime (hime means princess) is fetched to the Shogun's court to convince him to pick a certain successor. It's all castle intrigue with servants weighing in with guarded opinions. In one hilarious scene, the Shogun is tossing beanbags and throws one at the head one of his advisors because he doesn't like what he's saying. Pure Japanese humor, but I love it! There's just something about feudal era drama that sucks me in like a whirlpool.

The pix this week are from left: my Moms about age 20 in Tokyo wearing a handmade (no pattern, no sewing machine) outfit she created; me in Jamaica with my Jah-fro waaay back in the day; and, Teri LaFlesh and me with my new straight tresses yesterday (thank you, Teri!).

Until next time, I remain...

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Old Hair/New Hair

Aloha No, Straightened Hair, And A Dedication To Sergio Goes

"You look younger," my neighbor told me tonight as I was taking out the trash.

"Really?" I replied, doubtful as I remembered sleeping only six hours the night before.

"It must have been my trip to Hawai'i," I told him. "I felt so relaxed--like I was home."

Even though my last week's Honolulu island hop ended on a bittersweet vibe, I enjoyed moving among people who looked like me. If you're of mixed races and it shows, being in Hawai'i is like being on a planet filled with all your multiracial brothers and sisters. Sure, there are lots of "pure-blooded" East Asians among other races living there, but there are also many folks that are racially unidentifiable--like yourself. And, that feels comfortable. When you're comfortable, you don't frown or wrinkle your face up in defense. So, you look younger!

Of course, I was also happy to be "home" because I got to spend time with my old buddy Scott Lee who greeted me with a fragrant traditional lei and lunch at our favorite King Street Chinese restaurant. Scott Lee and I go way back to 1994, and we love to "talk story" about local culture; of which Scott's an expert having lived on Oahu all his life.

I also hung out with my friend, Lucy, an NYC transplant and professional photographer. Besides munching on a vegan lunch in Kahala and a homemade dinner at her Kailua home on Windward side, we also indulged in a lot of girly stuff like trying on make-up at Ala Moana Mall. We also got our hair done by a young woman selling electronic hair straighteners at a booth.

That's right. After 20 years of wearing my own personal natural--long, thick, wavy, hair with frizzy ends--I allowed myself to get talked into having an electronic implement iron out the ripples of my tresses to give me straight hair. When Adee first approached me, I balked. After all, I am of the natural garden variety. Rarely do I wear make-up, other than lip and nail color, and I don't like fussy hairstyles. But as Adee smoothed out each strand, my thoughts went from skeptical to amused to impressed. I hadn't had straight locks since the mid-1980's when I would spend precious hours rolling my hair in curlers the size of soup cans then sitting under a scorching dryer with a magazine hoping against hope that it wouldn't rain in Seattle where I lived then. Just one drizzly day would undo my hours of hard labor. Later, when I became more of the artist that I am today, I chucked the rollers and hair dryer and went au natural.

When Adee was done, I just knew I had to have the straight look--at least for a while. Call me a sell-out, but I dig variety and my waves had become boring to me.

My friend Lucy saw it differently.

"But you just said at dinner the other night that one of the problems you had with Michelle Obama was her hair," she reminded me. "You didn't like that she relaxes it."

"Yes," I argued weakly, "but I'm half Japanese and I'm just trying to look more like my mother. Besides, my 'do is chemical free."

All I knew was that I wanted a different look, and looking different made me feel different. Somehow, I felt Native Hawai'ian with my new flowing hair. As I walked around Waikiki tossing my untangled mane, I felt that the locals thought I was Native Hawai'ian, too.

Still ain't buying it? Well, here's what hair author Teri LaFlesh told me when I admitted to using a straightening rod on my hair.

"Hey, I checked out your hair! Even straightened it has so much presence. Hair is a crown, and you wear yours with such flair."

If Teri, the hairx-pert, says it's okay, then ya'll back off.

On to a much sadder note. While in Hawai'i, I discovered that a friend had passed away there in July. Although I hadn't been in touch with Sergio Goes for awhile, I always remembered his warm graciousness. Co-founder of the Cinema Paradise Film Festival, Sergio issued me a press badge in 2003, then went out of his way to invite me and Lucy to all of their Red Carpet events and parties. A filmmaker himself, he also gave us copies of his documentary called Black Picket Fence. The story of two aspiring rappers in a NYC project is told with Sergio's deep sensitivity and humanity. Originally hailing from Brazil, Sergio had a keen ability to hone in on things American and his film shows that. Sergio was also known for his amazing photography which appeared in most of Honolulu's local publications. While it hurts to lose such a downright nice person, I feel fortunate that I knew him at all. This week's blog is dedicated to the memory of Sergio Goes. That's him with Lucy in 2003 in the picture above.

To see my straightened hair, watch for the extra blog following this one.

Mahalo nui loa and aloha no. Rest well, dear sweet Sergio.

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More Hapa*Teez

Eva looks so hot-haute in her Hapa*Teez t-shirt that I just had to post another pix of her.

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Hapa*Teez!

Aloha!

I've been hard at work on the new Watermelon Sushi website so I'm going to skip writing the blog this week. Meanwhile, take a look at Eva modeling the Hapa Nation 2 Hapa*Teez t-shirt. Don't hate, now. You can have one, too. Just go to: http://www.cafepress.com/hapateez

See you next week.

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chinese Black South Africans, Korean Mexicans, And Hapa Hair

During this past week, some interesting news floated across my monitor screen. One current story in the LA Times involved Koreans who have lived in Mexico for generations. Not only have they forgotten how to speak Korean, but in many ways they can't even relate to being Asian anymore. Here's the link to this fascinating article:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-me-koreanmex16-2008aug16,0,2642318.story

Earlier in the week, I read an older article about 200,000 ethnic Chinese living in South Africa and how they've been re-classified as "black" so they can take advantage of anti-discrimination laws--giving them more opportunities to compete for jobs and contracts. Evidently, they were originally categorized under "colored", and because of it were considered white. Since whites still have major advantages in South Africa, the Chinese requested that the High Court re-classify them.

Here's the link to the bbc article:


I also poked around the 'net and found this very interesting exchange about the very subject at racialicious:


What an interesting world! Chinese people are black now, and Koreans are Mexicans. I love it! The more mixed everyone becomes, the better we'll all get along. Don't you think?

Beyond that, it's been a personally exciting week as I continue to hear from more and more Hip Hapa Homeez. As I continue to work on an updated version of the Watermelon Sushi website, I hope to include more of you on it--so, drop me a line.

Last week, I also discovered Teri LaFlesh, a young mixed-race woman who's written very poignantly of her hair struggles while growing up. At last, able to grow a beautiful head of healthy and long hair, she decided to share her "secrets" in a book. She has a website all about her hapa hair experiences. Take a look:


In the meantime, contact me so I can know who you are. I promise to answer.

btw, my kind neighbor from Ukraine gave me a delicious watermelon the other day. That's not it in the photo, of course, because I already ate it.

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Upcoming Events

Aloha Hip Hapa Homeez!

I hope you're having a hapa summer.

There are a lot of upcoming activities tied to this blog, so watch the writer. First of all, there's going to be a major overhaul of the Watermelon Sushi film website including the addition of some new folks to the production. Right now, I'm gathering photos and bios so you'll see the new Watermelon Sushi team, hopefully, by the end of this month. That url again: http://www.watermelonsushi.com

With the re-launch of Hapa*Teez t-shirts, some hip hapas have agreed to model their purchases for both this blog and the film website. So, stay tuned to view some hot, haute, hip hapa homeez in Hapa*Teez!

As the hip hapa population grows, the larger monoracial groups are going to have to start taking us seriously when we demand that our stories be splayed across the screen--both big and small--and onstage and in books to reflect our presence in the world. After all, we have a U.S. presidential contender in Mr. Hapa-bama. Hip hapa homeez, our day is here and we need to carpe diem!

If you know of any biracial bloggers or mixed-race organizations that are forwarding our multi-racial agendas, please drop me a line with their info. Tonight, I'm adding the link to Martine McDonald's blog to my own (on the blog roll to the right). She's a very sensitive sistah, so give her a read. I think she speaks for a lot of us blendies.

And, I'm still recruiting for Guest Bloggers if any of my readers are interested.

Meanwhile, have a hapa week!

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"Ethnic" Hair v. Non-Ethnic Hair

Aloha! It's been another busy week here in my Watermelon Sushi World, and I'd like to thank all my Hip Hapa Homeez who have reached out. A shout out to both Maria K.L. and Jason K. for their support.

Here, check out this very funny video clip about a biracial brother that Jason recently sent me:


In addition to blogging, Jason is also interested in creating a group of "federated multi-ethnics". What do you think? Can it be done? Contact him to let him know. His link is listed on the side. One of the topics the Mixed Chicks and I discussed was what, if any, differences exist between a biracial double-minority versus one who is half-Caucasian. Do you know?

Now, on to some fun. Have you ever wondered why there's a section at the drugstore called "Ethnic Hair Products"? I mean, does that imply that non-minorities (specifically non-blacks) have no ethnicity? When advertisers label hair "ethnic", it seems they're really referring to black folks since other minorities, especially Asians, the indigenous and Latinas often have straight hair similar to whites'--which responds to "non-ethnic" hair products. Are black people, and people mixed with black people, the only ones who are "ethnic"? What about Jews or curly-headed Euros?

Growing up, I remember many painful moments as my Japanese mother had such a time with our hip hapa hair. My sister and I had unnaturally thick, unruly manes and before handheld blow dryers were on the market, we were subjected to a weekly washing that consisted of my mother inverting the vacuum cleaner hose to dry our hair. After that, she greased up her palms with Alberto VO-5 petroleum jelly and soon my sister and I would have two long, shiny braids cascading down our chests topped by a little tootsie roll for bangs. Whenever we balked at having our hair combed, my mother would admonish us, "Why make hair so bushy?" Looking back, I have to laugh. While she was chastising us for our Asiatic Afro-puffed hair, she was constantly perming hers! Was she subconsciously trying to look more like us?

I have no answers, just a lot of thoughts. That's me and my sister, br, in Germany.

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mixed Chicks Chat Rules!

Woo-Hoo!

I'm still stoked from my appearance today on http://www.mixedchickschat.com. Hosted by Fanshen Cox and Heidi Durow, this live podcast is all about multiracial people. Every Wednesday, at 2 pm PDT, the two women discuss the mixed-race experience--often interviewing someone who's actively involved in the community. Today, it was my turn.

After talking about my formative years growing up in a monoracial 'hood, I told my now-favorite story about people having issues pronouncing my first name. If you care to scroll back in the archives, you can read my blog about my personal war with George Takei. You know, Mr. Sulu from Star Trek? Several years ago, I attended an Asian American event where Mr. Takei was a guest. Because most people have a hard time saying "Yayoi", over time I've learned to sharply enunciate every syllable when announcing it. When I did so to Mr. Takei, he brushed me off with, "You don't even pronounce your name right!" I wasn't offended until much later when I realized he must think I don't know anything about Japanese culture just because I don't look like him. So, once again, I challenge Mr. Sulu to a duel--Who's More Japanese, Fool?

Anyway, the Mixed Chicks and I had a lot of fun talking about a lot of things. And, fun is important. That's why I've come up with terms like Hip Hapa Homeez and Hapa Japa to identify us blendies. The whole business of being multiracial in a monoracial world is serious enough and, often, our approach is just too academic for the average person to take in. Therefore, my thing is to add a little hiphop, pop culture flava to our experience.

Two topics currently running on my Facebook Hip Hapa Homeez group page are:

1. Why don't more Asian men and black women have interracial relationships? Asian men tell me they think the sistahs are hot, while black women say Asian men are quite attractive. So, what's the problem, ya'll?

2. It's that old bugaboo, hair, again. So many mixed-race people have hair that's different from their parents. It's especially tricky when the mother has a certain texture of hair different from her daughter(s). With boys, I guess, you can just cut it all off. But, in my, and my sister's case, my Japanese mother with her bone-straight hair would simply "plait" our unruly manes after greasing 'em up with petroleum jelly!

Anyway, it's good to connect so check out some of the links I've posted about friends I've been connecting with lately. And, definitely, give the Mixed Chicks a listen.

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Albino Massacre

Recently, there's been some disturbing news--sort of race-based--coming out of Tanzania where it's been rumored that albinos (people who lack melanin to produce skin color) possess a kind of magic in their bodies. So-called witch doctors have been telling their clients to provide them with the legs, hands and/or hair of an albino in exchange for magical powers.

What's interesting about this atrocity is that an albino of black African descent has very white-pinkish skin even though his or her facial features are not Caucasian. Therefore, it sort of reinforces that white skin, again, is of more value than dark skin--of course, in a very perverse way since the white-skinned African is murdered for his or her more highly valued body.

Many unfortunate albinos have been living in fear that they will be attacked with machetes, and some have taken to living together in shelters. Besides being a real tragedy, this abomination is just one more area of life where skin color becomes the pervasive issue.

Sometimes, I wonder if it will ever stop.

Here's a link to the BBC coverage of this story:


btw, join my Facebook group Hip Hapa Homeez to view stories like this one and take part in discussions about them.

Your Hip Hapa,
Yayoi