Today, while I was screening a Chinese-made film titled 24 City, it really hit me how homogenized that country's citizens are. I kept trying to put myself into the picture and wondering how I would fit in living somewhere where everyone looked like everyone else, except me. Certainly, I have felt that before in America, especially whenever I've attended a particular event that didn't draw other folks of color. But on a daily basis for the rest of my life? I'd be crazed.
I remember visiting Japan with my mother and sister years ago. We spent nearly a month traveling in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, etc. At first, it was absolutely fascinating to attempt deciphering the language that I heard all around me. Even with a Japanese mother from Japan, I only know mostly nouns so I was trying to pick up on entire phrases. But after awhile, to my shock, I began to miss the sound of English which I only heard whenever my sister and I were having a conversation. Most of the time, she and I were together. So, I did have someone to talk to without having to search for the correct Japanese words to communicate. Still, there was a deep sense of loneliness that enveloped me whenever we were out in public and I couldn't understand anyone else around me. That's a picture of my sister in Tokyo, above.
Being that one different person in any group can be an uncomfortable experience. But most monoracial people don't have to deal with that situation unless they travel outside of their communities. Not long ago, I asked a good friend of mine--who happens to be a monoracial Caucasian man--if he wanted to attend a black arts festival in Atlanta with me. Now, I've known this friend for years. We often talk politics and he considers himself extremely liberal and progressive. Besides visiting each other in our respective home states, we've also travelled to other distant locales to attend various events. So, I was totally unprepared when he answered my question with, "No. I don't think I'd be comfortable at a black festival." I was stunned and replied, "So how do you think I should feel? I have to be a person of color every day when I walk out my door, and where I live 75% of the population is white. Should I just stay in the house so I don't have to feel uncomfortable?" My friend didn't answer. I really don't believe he understood what I was getting at, and it really saddened me because if someone as bright and aware as he is doesn't get it, then there's no hope for the rest of humankind. Or, is there?
Hey, we're moving closer to making our Watermelon Sushi film. In June, we'll be auditioning talent for the principal roles. So, if you live in L.A., please be sure to send your reels, resumes and headshots according to the breakdowns on the Hip Hapa Homeez group page at Facebook. That way, we can schedule you for an audition. Most likely, auditions will be held in Hollywood and the fabulous nissei rapper Miwa Lyric will be on hand to assist (www.miwalyric.com).
Shout-outs to Lily Anne Welty for sending the DVD about Japanese/black kids in Japan. I'll report on it as soon as I watch it. btw, if you're in Asia and you're AfroAsian and you're interested in being interviewed by Lily Anne, let me know. She's on a search for biracial babies born between the 1940's through the 1960's.
Mahalo nui loa also to Paulette Thompson for remembering that The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai had "good" aliens that were all of color and "bad" aliens that were all monoracial Caucasians named John. Paulette also sent me two links that I'll try to post next time. One of her comments was that actress Meg Tilly was born Margaret Chan, but after her white mother divorced her Chinese American father, Meg was taught to keep her Asian ethnicity a secret. The other is about a woman in an interracial relationship.
Now, here's an interesting article that flips the script. It's about a black family who adopted a white child.
In honor of my transracial adoptee buddy, Anjulie, I have posted her beautiful-ness, above.
Your Hip Hapa,