Earlier this week, I was interviewed by a local newspaper reporter writing an article about biracial people followed by a genuine studio photo shoot. As I went through the process of bringing myself into this mixed-race frame of mind (as you blendies know, we don't go around focused on being mixed 24/7), I realized I had too much to say on the subject to keep it short. Indeed, the phone interview spanned some 1-2 hours. I just couldn't stop talking!
Besides the usual negative stuff--society at large identifying mixed-race folks according to what they look like physically--I also had some positive observations to share, i.e., being biracial means having two cultures to draw from which can make life pretty darn interesting, especially if you enjoy eating collard greens with inarizushi.
Only the weekend before, I got into a heated bickering session with an actress pal who identifies herself as African American. During our conversation, I brought up the "Obama dilemma"--that he (and others) has chosen to call himself black as opposed to biracial--and, I cited the One Drop Rule as the reason (more on that in another blog). Well, my friend (like many African Americans) was not happy with my assessment. Hey, as proud as I am of being black, I'm also proud of my Asian ancestry, and I'd never dream of excluding my mother from the credits in the creation of "the me who I am today". My actress buddy was not having it so I opted out by telling her, "I don't argue about biracial issues with monoracial folks." As mortified as she was, she would've felt the same had a Caucasian person attempted to tell her what black is/was/will be. Yet she had no problem telling me what biracial is/was/should be.
(In another blog, I'll address why African Americans get so upset when hapa black people want to claim the other side of their identity.)
It's really interesting to note how mixed-race people, generally, are able to transcend group affiliations, and that's the way it should be. Had it always been that way, slavery of a certain race of people could never happen. If folks didn't have the capability of separating by ethnicity, they could never deem one group superior over another. I'm not advocating that a biracial world population is the answer to a better planet, but when humans can't bunch up together according to race and pit one group against another (which is usually the case--pitting, that is), there just might be a chance for understanding and harmony. Even if there isn't, even if we end up segregating ourselves by other categories (like those who wear red versus those sporting blue), we will at least have a sense of what all races share in common.
Now, culturally, there may be differences. Based on my own experiences, I find Japanese society to be highly organized and systematic. I understand it because part of that is inside of me, cultivated by my issei (first generation Japanese) mom. On the other hand, I also feel a strong sense of music which often releases itself without inhibition. I recognize that as an outward expression present in many African cultures. And, that is also inside of me, thanks to my dad. So, what to do? Repress one of those urges to the detriment of the other? Hey, I'm hip to both of them because I am both of them. Two races, two cultures, two ways of being, but one person.
In closing today's ramblings, I have to say that my sister's kid may be an interesting look into the future. This manchild in his early 20's has an African American father and, of course, my Japanese/black sister for his mother. As a baby, toddler, and teen, he spent many summers living with my issei mother and her Caucasian husband. Throughout his adult life, he's dated women of different ethnicities. Today, this kid proudly showed me a photo of his girlfriend, a woman who is half Samoan and half white.
Until next time--oyasuminasai, bon nuit, later.
Your Hip Hapa,