Yo! Hip Hapa Homeez,
It's been another busy week of dismantling misinformation about multiracial people, and I'm exhausted. Sometimes, I get so tired of preaching and teaching that I just let stuff slide. How about you?
A couple of days ago while out walking, I ran into the bus driver with whom I had shared my woes about a difficult class I took last quarter. Since he drove the bus to the campus daily, I often complained to him about the homework that I struggled over. Coincidentally, he was familiar with the subject and tried to encourage me. When I had last seen him, I was sweating a bad grade. Surprisingly, I ended up doing better than I anticipated. Spotting him on my walk, I expressed my delight at earning a decent grade. Laughing, the driver replied, "Well, that's the Asian half of you." I was speechless. Since he's Asian himself, I wasn't sure if he was just attempting to create a bond through our cultural connection. I wanted to ask, but didn't, if he thought it possible that my black relatives might value education more than my Japanese ones. I'm sure he meant no harm by his statement. After all, Asian immigrants in America do have a reputation for being academically inclined. However, I've read articles that indicate the true model minorities are Haitians. That's right; those refugees that arrived packed in rickety boats off the shores of Florida are considered to be the most achievement-oriented in this country--counting numerous doctors, nurses and lawyers among them.
Awhile back, a Caucasian man made a similar remark when I mentioned some academic accomplishment I'd realized. "You're so smart," he said. "It must be the Asian in you." Of course, I was stunned. Was he saying that the black in me was not as bright as the Japanese? I wanted to ask if he knew who invented the traffic signal light, or who came up with the idea of blood transfusions that saves millions of lives worldwide. Hint: Neither were Asians.
And, what about Obama then? Do you think world leaders sit around thinking, "That guy is so smart. It must be the white in him." Is it a good thing then, that Obama identifies himself as an African American?
I suppose there are worse things that monoracial people can say to us mixies. Yet, I find myself often thinking that as a whole (pun intended), we humans have a long way to go.
Recently, I ran into a former classmate who is half white and half black. As we discussed being biracial, he revealed that he and his brother were treated differently as they grew up. My friend is "high yella"--golden skinned with green eyes and "good" hair. His brother, he told me, had darker skin and tighter hair. I explained that my film, Watermelon Sushi, is about this very issue--how people are perceived to possess certain traits based on nothing more than their appearance. Just when did having a darker shade of skin become an open invitation for scorn, anyway?
Earlier in the week, I was at a local copy shop when I began conversing with a young African American woman who was assisting me. Reading her name tag, I mentioned that I had a friend who shared her unusual name, but who lived back East. The young women then shared with me her complicated family history and all the places where they had resided. Then, very casually, she explained that her father had not been raised by his own mother (her grandmother), but by his grandmother (her great-grandmother) because--here the young woman lightly brushed the back of her arm with her fingers--his skin was too dark.
Can you imagine being rejected by your own mother because of something so irrelevant as the shade of your skin? If your own mother won't accept you, what hope is there for the rest of the world embracing you? Folks, we just suck.
On another note: Thanks to the quick eye of Rachel Herault, I had to revisit my March 19th blog post titled "Where Are the Extraterrestrials of Color?" If you recall, I was in a tizzy after viewing the Hollywood film Knowing, starring Nicholas Cage as an MIT prof who unravels a series of numbers that add up to doom for planet Earth. While he's busy figuring out that we're on a collision course with the Sun, several aliens (all monoracial Caucasians) intervene. I was miffed that none of the aliens were of color, and posed the question; how come the future is so white when there are more Chinese on the planet right now than anyone else? I even insinuated that Hollywood is sending a subtle message that aliens can only be Caucasian because they possess a superior intelligence proven by their ability to travel all the way to our planet. Anyway, Rachel reminded me that a couple who was actually abducted by aliens in the 1950's was interracial. Barney Hill was black and his wife, Betty, was white. In the TV movie based on their story, they were played by actors James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons. The fact that I remember the most about the Hills' adventure is Betty's drawing of where the aliens had come from. Although she drew stars that didn't exist at the time of her kidnapping, years later scientists discovered them in the sky.
Please keep your cards and letters coming, Hip Hapa Homeez. I love hearing from you! And, don't forget to sign up to join our Facebook group--Hip Hapa Homeez. Remember our Hapa*Teez t-shirts and our open call casting for Watermelon Sushi, too.
Last, but not least, here's a shout-out to Moms. HAPA b-day! I tried to wish it on your special day, but see 'bad Comcast', above. Omedetto gozaimasu! The photo above is one of Moms at the earliest age we could find. Here (bottom left), she's a 16 year-old nanny, out boating with her employer's family.
Your Hip Hapa,