Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Anzu, FGM v. MGM, And Upcoming Watermelon Sushi Events

Hey Hip Hapa Homeez,

I'm so hapa to hear from so many of you! As promised, each week I'll be posting stories and photos about you and your mixed-race experiences.

This week, allow me to introduce Anzu (aka Anzu Kristina Lawson). A very talented Los Angeles-based musician, actress and comedienne, Anzu is half Japanese and half Caucasian. Check out her story and accompanying pix, below:

"This is my parents', John and Keiko Lawson's, wedding photo taken in Japan. I was born seven months after it was taken. My dad was a G.I. stationed in Japan after the Korean war. My parents are divorced now. There was definitely a language barrier between them, but they managed to make two pretty cool daughters. My father fought prejudice because my mother was Japanese and Pearl Harbor was still fresh in people's minds, especially in Oregon. I remember my mother really craving Japanese food and having boxes of seaweed, noodles, pickled radish and condiments shipped from Japan by her relatives. Back in those days, they didn't have very many ethnic food stores like they do today. The ONE thing my parents had in common was that they both loved music. That passion was something they gave me, from both of them, besides their wonderful genes. I have a single out on itunes that is available under ANZU called TWO WRONGS. It's a rock duet featuring Sonny, the lead singer from the band P.O.D. (Columbia Records)."

Now, back to that FGM (First Generation Multi-racials, or Mulattos) v. MGM (Multi Generation Multi-racials) debate. Here's a response from Chancellor Files:

"I read the Watermelon Sushi World blog, and what Yayoi wrote about the FGM and MGM world that you (Kahlil Crawford) introduced her to. There are serious tensions between the two camps. I feel from what I’m seeing and hearing is that some FGM's are frustrated because there are light-skinned MGM's who look just as mulatto, and sometimes even lighter in complexion, than many biracials. They feel this helps FGM's remain seen as black because people are so used to seeing light-skinned MGM's.

Some FGM's are sad because light-skinned MGM's are lighter than some of them and, therefore, seen as mixed when the darker biracials are just seen as black first and mixed second. This is something that needs to be talked about among mixed-race people who are FGM's and MGM's.

This is why there is a forum so people can discuss these issues. This topic will come up eventually again, and it should."

And, still on that subject, I received the following from AllPeople Gifts:

"Hi Yayoi,

After having read your great article found at your website via the following link

in which you discussed the matter of MGM-Mixed and FGM-Mixed lineages, I thought you might be interested in learning about and becoming familiar with, as well as possibly joining, any or all of three (3) Mixed-Lineage discussion groups listed below.

Thus, we would like you to view this memo as a very cordial invitation to take a look at and to perhaps also consider joining and becoming a member (via either ‘active posting’ and/or ‘quiet perusal’) of any or all of the three (3) groups --- as we would be very honored to have you join in with us and our online communities."

The groups are as follows:

Hey, Hip Hapa Homeez, we're getting close to the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival taking place in Los Angeles in June. Don't forget to stop by to check out our Mixed-Race Relationships panel including Sam Cacas, Sachiko Jackson and Ann Carli. If you'd like a program schedule, drop me an email at

That same weekend, Watermelon Sushi producers will be auditioning talent for our film. If you haven't already sent us your reels, headshots and resumes, it's too late. But if you'd like to be considered for a role without auditioning, go to the Hip Hapa Homeez group on Facebook for breakdowns. Remember, rapper Miwa Lyric will be in the house!

Oh, and my good friend Amina asked that I post the following:

"Share your experience as a person of mixed heritage with, an online community celebrating the achievements of multiracial people. All are welcome - from childhood experiences to dating, beauty, family and inspiration for your art/career– tell us your story!


Please include your name, contact details (email or phone number) and best time to reach you . We can either arrange a phone interview or you can send us an essay written in first-person."

Until next time, I am and will always be...

Your Hip Hapa,


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Not About Me, But About You

Hey! I think I'm finally connecting with you--my Hip Hapa Homeez--for real, and that makes me feel so HAPA! Thanks for showing me the love.

This week, I want to introduce you to S.B. of London (pix to your left). Besides promoting our film by purchasing a Watermelon Sushi Hapa*Teez t-shirt, S.B. also shared some interesting thoughts about our biracial agenda. On the Hip Hapa Homeez group page on Facebook, I had posted a statement about the One Drop Rule, and questioned why the press was so eager to label President Obama a black man when he is biracial. S.B. then responded with her belief that some biracial people tend to shun their black side. FYI, S.B.'s mother is white English, and her father is Nigerian (Igbo).

Rather than attempt to explain what I think she meant, I'll just re-post our dialogue here:


Isn't Barack Obama black/African American?

The mixed-raced community always makes a massive deal about embracing all parts of your heritage. But in reality, that seems to mean that you don't embrace any. Especially, especially not any black/African heritage you might have. It is preferred (in my experience) that you refer to yourself as "mixed-race", "biracial", "multiracial", etc., without ever acknowledging the different races that make up that heritage.

I think Barack Obama should be able to describe himself (and be described) as black. Because he is black, AND white. Both as opposed to neither.

I don't think it's the One Drop Rule unless the argument is that having black heritage EXCLUDES you from being anything else. That blackness (or non-whiteness) taints you.

But that's just my opinion.

And, here's Your Hip Hapa's response:

I don't know if you grew up in London, but the phrase "One Drop Rule" takes on a whole different meaning here in the states as it applied to slaves who were fathered by white slavemasters yet denied any claims to that white heritage, especially because it involved property and money. Slaves were considered property. Therefore, a child of a white slavemaster was still half slave and ruled by the one drop of black blood that would keep him or her always a slave first and foremost.

As for your argument about mixed-race folks not wanting to embrace their black heritage, I don't think that's true. Often, the black community doesn't allow us to embrace other parts of ourselves. Most recently, there was a big stink about the U.S. Census. Because mixed-race people were allowed to choose more than one race (and thereby acknowledging both of their parents for the first time in the history of the Census), a lot of black communities were upset over losing numbers. If you don't know, higher numbers in communities means that you're awarded more federal dollars for your programs.

Of course, it's up to Obama to define his racial identification. But clearly, his white mother and white grandparents raised him. Certainly, he was highly influenced by them culturally. For him to deny them, would make me suspicious of his political agenda.

And, here's S.B., again:

I would never deny that Barack Obama is biracial or mixed-race. Regardless of who raised him, it is a fact that he is biracial and I would never say that he should deny his biracial heritage.

All I meant to say is: The fact that he is biracial should not exclude him from being black. He should not be discounted from the ranks of African Americans merely because he cannot claim pure, 100% black racial heritage. Who can? Why can’t he be seen as being ALL that he is? Black, white, mixed-race, Kenyan, Hawai'ian, Kansan, Illinoisan, politician, husband, father, president…

As a European--and not an American--I do not claim to understand the nuance of American racial politics, and I hope that I have not offended anybody.

I do think that my argument that mixed-race people do not want to claim their black heritage is accurate at least here in Britain if not in the United States. At least I can say that I have provided some insight on life as a mixed-race person in Europe (it is not as depressing as it sounds!).

And, one more time, Your Hip Hapa replies:

I appreciate your opinions. As far as mixed-race people not wanting to claim their black heritage, though, I have seen that happen with certain black folks, too. I have lived in areas that are predominantly white, and experienced black people literally shun other black folks so as to not "offend" whites or have whites think that they are just like any other stereotyped black person. I call it "self-hating", and I've seen that occur among Asians, Latinos, and Indigenous folks, too. I have rarely seen it happen, though, in large, diverse, cosmopolitan cities so I think there's some idea of a "safety factor" involved in taking that type of stance.

Okay. So, what do you readers think? Do mixed-race people with black ethnicities tend to shun that part of themselves? Drop us a line at and tell all!

Also, last week I discussed the so-called FGM v. MGM battle. FGM stands for First Generation Mulattos (or Multi-racials) and MGM are Multi-Generational Mulattos (or, Multi-racials). FGM's are repped by folks like Halle Berry who can point to a white mother and black father, while a prominent MGM would be Vanessa L. Williams--with two light-skinned parents identified as black, but who is clearly mixed from somewhere in the past. Today, I received an invite from AP to join several multi-lineage yahoo groups based on that blog. I'll post their links after I check them out. However, I will list this one that I actually had the chance to visit:

We're getting close to scheduling talent auditions for Watermelon Sushi, so if you haven't sent us your submission yet, you have about a week. Check out the Hip Hapa Homeez group page on Facebook for breakdowns. And, sign up to join our group while you're there!

Also, the panel I'm presenting, Mixed-Race Relationships, at the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival is gearing up. Here is a link to an article penned by Sam Cacas who will be one of the panelists:

And, let me know if you'd like me to forward you a copy of the MRFLF program.

My new feature is to introduce a Hip Hapa Homee every week, so if you have a photo of your family, especially your parents, and would like to be showcased on this blog, hollah at

Until next week, I am fiending to be...

Your Hip Hapa,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Susan's Story, FGM v. MGM, Rain, Brown Girl, And Lily

One of the reasons I love being Your Hip Hapa is because of the caliber of connections I make. Every week, I receive wonderfully encouraging emails from other hip hapa homeez and from the friends and families of hip hapa homeez, too.

Since I've been mostly blogging about my own adventures here in my Watermelon Sushi World, I think it's time to showcase some of yours. So, meet Susan Stead-Carter. Here is a brief intro, in her words:

"I am also Japanese and black American. My parents were married in 1959, and my dad, Roland F. Stead, Jr., was a serviceman. My mother, the former Teruko Nishina, was from Fukuoka Japan. Although I was born in the U.S., I moved to Japan when I was nearly two when my dad was reassigned from Ft. Lewis to Korea. I lived in Japan for the next 10 years with my mother while dad served various assignments. To make sure I lived a stable life, we lived in various parts of Japan (sometimes with relatives, other times on base) until my dad got his orders in 1974. I was very Japanese then as far as culture was concerned (I was fluent), but my parents made me very aware that most Japanese would not consider me as such. Although I lived in a protected environment of an Army base when I first moved to the states, I was not prepared for the isolation I felt when, after dad retired, I moved to an area where there were very few black Americans. And, I was even more unprepared when I was not accepted by them."

Currently, Susan lives with her husband and three sons in Virginia. She has generously shared photos (here) of her parents taken in Beppu Fukuoka in 1953, as well as one of herself in grade school.

If you're interested in having your multiracial story told on this blog, please drop me a line along with some photos at

A few days ago, I began reading Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home by Lise Funderburg. I can't believe my incredible good fortune in winning this book in a contest that Lise held on her website. If you're not familiar with this author, she wrote Black, White, Other--a book about mixed folks with black and white parents. In my opinion, it is the most definitive book about biracial people as it's told in their own words accompanied by their photos. I'll let you know what unfolds in Lise's latest--a memoir about her late father.

Speaking of black and white, Kahlil Crawford, a multiracial activist has been clueing me in on issues between FGM's and MGM's. FGM stands for First Generation Mulatto while MGM is for Multi-Generational Mulatto. From what I've gathered, there's resentment between the two camps as FGM's have one white parent and one black, and generally feel free to identify themselves as biracial, while MGM's tend to be considered light-skinned blacks no matter how multiracial they may be or feel. Examples I read about indicated that Halle Berry is considered an FGM while Vanessa Williams is an MGM. It's a new world to me, and I'm learning as I go. If any of you have anything to add to this topic, please drop me a line at

Just today, I received an email from my delightful friend Rain Pryor, a talented writer and performer. Here's the link to her latest show titled Colorism.

Rain's mother is Jewish, and her father is the late comedian and actor Richard Pryor. You pour, Rain!

Hey, I'm so HAPA to see so many of us putting our multiracial agendas out there. A few days ago, my Oak-town friend, Jazmine Jackson, turned me on to
In a few weeks, a piece I've written will be posted there, but for now you can go to Tracey's website and participate in a poll about mixed-race people. Just click "Other Stuff" on the landing page to take the survey.

Wow! I cannot believe I spent four hours on the phone last night with Lily Anne Yumi Welty. This Japanese and Caucasian student is currently in Japan doing research for her Ph.d dissertation on mixed-race Japanese. Her interview with me was a blast as we yapped, joked and compared notes about our hapaness. Lily is looking for any half Japanese folks who were born between the 1940's-1960's. If that describes you, email her at and tell Lily that Your Hip Hapa sent you.

Well, that's about all the news that's fit to print for now. I may be in need of a panelist for the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival in LA in June, so drop me a line at if you're multiracial and would like to be considered.

We're also going to be auditioning talent in L.A. in June. If you're an actor, check out the group page for Hip Hapa Homeez on Facebook. You can see the breakdowns and audition information posted there. Rapper and Music Consultant Miwa Lyric will be assisting us, so come on out and meet Downey's down diva!

Remember, for those of you fiending to be a part of our Watermelon Sushi film, we still have Hapa*Teez t-shirts available at

Finally, here's to HAPA-ness for everyone, and a special shout-out to Brian Parker who remembered my birthday with a really cool card.

Peace out, ya'll.

Your Hip Hapa,

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Birthday, A Senior Loving Teen, A Faux Pas, And A Mall Cop

Congratulations are in order here, folks. Thank you. Hey, I made it through another birthday! But since my SanDisk memory card reader decided to malfunction (how timely--one year and an expired warranty later), I can't download my party pix. So, I won't waste any time writing about the festivities you weren't invited to. I don't want to rub your face in how much fun you missed and not be able to share with you the images of me partying with my senior parents and their spoiled brat dog.

Speaking of seniors, two weeks ago on NHK's Nodojiman (Japanese amateur singing contest), a teenage girl appeared on the show along with her grandmother. As the two held hands, they sang a song. But I forgot to ask my mother what the song was about. I was so awestruck that a teenager not only didn't mind being seen with her grandparent on international television, but was proudly holding her hand, too. I kept imagining the show being American Idol or something, and I couldn't. Are you kidding me? No American kid would be caught on TV performing with an elderly relative. What is it with our society that makes aging such a horrific event that women race to get face lifts and men stock up on Viagra as soon as the wrinkles and gray hair appear? Isn't aging a natural process in other societies where the elderly are actually looked up to as being wiser or something? In our culture, it seems like we want to hide our old folks. Yes, I am sensitive to this issue especially since I've acquired another birthday. Sob! Still, the image of that young girl and her grandmother singing together was so sweet that I just had to take a photo. But it's another one you won't be seeing tonight.

As I've mentioned many times, I just love receiving your emails and Facebook Friends requests. Keep them coming. This week, I got an interesting message from Mary who is also Japanese and African American. After reading my last week's post, Mary experienced her own "huh?" moment with a monoracial friend. Here's what Mary had to say:

"I thought about you last night and your experiences with the monoracial white man who told you that your name didn't sound Japanese. There is someone in my life who I'm trying to tolerate and be friends with. He's white--half German, half American. Even with a law degree and a Masters in psychology, my friend Eric said the stupidest thing to me. As we were watching television, we noticed a biracial boy on the show.

I told Eric, 'Aw, he's really cute!'

Eric responded, 'I hate biracial people.'

Stunned, I said, 'Thanks a lot, Eric!'

He replied, 'Well, you're not biracial because you're half black and half Japanese. That's all the same race. There are only two races--white people and everyone else.'

Mary went on to write, "How does one argue with an idiot without becoming one?"

I'm sorry, Mary, but as you know from reading this blog I have no answers--just lots of questions. It's truly amazing how misinformed people are, but even more amazing is their sense of entitlement to tell you--a mixed-race person--exactly what you are. I mean, who put these people in charge?

Somewhere during the existence of humans, someone decided that the word biracial means that you are half black and half white. Then, some others decided that the word hapa means that you are half Asian and half white. It's crazy, I know. In my dictionary, biracial means someone who is of two races period, while hapa is the Hawai'ian mispronunciation of the English word 'half'. But back to Eric's declaration that there are only two races--white and everyone else. I'm stunned myself, Mary. I mean, does Eric think he hailed from Whiteland? And, why does he hate biracial people anyway? If any of you readers have comments, please leave them here.

On another note, it seems that today's mainstream movies are casually introducing the idea of mixed-race families to the public. Recently, I saw Mall Cop (don't ask) and was surprised that the protagonist was a monoracial Caucasian who lived with his white mother and his Latina daughter. It turns out, ha ha, that the mother was an illegal alien who only wanted her green card. So, she married the mall cop, birthed a daughter, and split. Somehow, this was a big family joke and a picture of the mother on a burro, I believe, was supposed to make us hysterically roll around in the aisles whenever they showed it. I found it kind of sad, really. Couldn't the writer have created a Latina who was not the stereotyped alien lusting for a green card? Couldn't she have been a successful business entrepreneur who decided to dump her mall cop hubby because he was such a loser? Jeez. Think, people, think! You're writers. Write creatively!

Speaking of writing creatively and films, we're still accepting submissions for Watermelon Sushi. If you'd like to audition for our producers in Los Angeles in June, please get your reels, resumes and headshots to us ASAP. You can find all the details, including breakdowns, on the Hip Hapa Homeez group page at Facebook. While you're there, please join us. With mixed-race notables like Jasmine Guy, Lonette McGee and Rain Pryor as members, you'll be in good company. Not to mention Kool Mo Dee, Professor Griff, Biz Markie and Ghostface Killah!

The pix I've posted are all from birthdays long gone. At the very top QBwoy hosted my birthday party at his reggae club in Hollywood. Beneath that one, QBwoy hosted another one of my birthday parties in Santa Monica where Mikki joined us. The other three photos are all from the same birthday party at Siam Place restaurant in Santa Monica. From left to right: Lisa, me, Karen. Next pix: Cat, me, Kristina. And lastly, Chi, me, and Cat.

Until next week, I remain Your old...

Hip Hapa,