Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Shout-outs, Offenses And More MRFLF Interviews

My dear Hip Hapa Homeez,

In my excitement to write last week's post, I neglected to send this shout-out to Cassie: HAPA birthday, girl! Cassie's special day was June 24, and she is one Hip Hapa Homee, let me tell ya.

I was also in such a hurry to relaunch this blog that I totally forgot about two recent incidents that still cause me to shake my head.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in line at the supermarket when the mono-racial Caucasian woman in front of me turned around, gestured at her four six-packs of beer on the conveyer belt and said, "You know it's bad when beer costs less than water."

She then looked intently at my chest and asked, "Are you fluent?"

I had forgotten that I was wearing my Cherry Blossom Festival t-shirt decorated with kanji so I mumbled incoherently before following the woman's gaze and finally getting that she was asking if I spoke Japanese fluently.

"Oh, no," I interjected, about to explain that I spoke some Japanese, but didn't read it, when she interrupted me in a voice of absolute authority.

"Well," she instructed me, "all their words end with a vowel or the letter 'n'."

I was like, okay, and you're telling me this because a. I don't look Japanese to you so what would I know or, b. I do look somewhat Asian, but you still don't think that I would know anything about a language that (half) my own people speak because obviously you, the mono-racial European, is the expert on the subject. By the time I had decided that I was sufficiently insulted, the woman had collected her 24 cans of beer and gone.

Lest you think that it's only "white folks" who don't get it when they're offending us blendies, let me tell you about what I heard on a bus ride a few weeks prior. The bus driver, either a light-skinned African American woman or MGM (multi-generational multi-racial) and I were chatting about several topics. Towards the end of the route, an African American man moved forward from the rear to inquire about the stop where he should get off. Suddenly, he looked at the driver closely.

"So, what are you?" he asked. "A mixed breed?"

To her credit, the bus driver simply chuckled.

"No," she responded. "I'm the same as you."

But the idiot passenger wouldn't let it go. He kept harping about how light she was, how she didn't look purebred, how she must be something else, etc., but I had already checked out without hearing the rest of their conversation. I was still stuck back at the 'mixed-breed' part, and I was seething.

I wanted to ask the moron, "Do you think our driver is a puppy or something?"

You know, I keep thinking that we've progressed as a people. A few months ago, I clipped an ad from Essence magazine for Moen, a faucet manufacturer. The photo showed a white man and presumably his wife or girlfriend--an Asian woman--preparing a meal. I was like, wow, even if it's somewhat of a stereotype to some (white male/cherry blossom female), it's still progress over showing only mono-racial couples. That same week, the local health food market featured an obviously biracial (black and white) girl as part of their sales ads. More progress, I thought at the time. But evidently, it was just a little too much progression as the following month backslid into the "I'm going to tell you what I know that you don't know about your own people's language" and/or putting us mixies in the same category as animals.

On to better things. This week's featured Hip Hapa Homee is Dora Love, the wife of author Sam Cacas who was a participant on the Mixed-Race Relationships panel at the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival. A photo of the couple taken at the MRFLF is below.

Q: How did you participate in this year's Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival?
A: Of course, I sat in on the Mixed-Race Relationships panel on Friday. I also went to several other sessions on Friday and Saturday.

Q: What was the most exciting aspect of the festival?
A: The most exciting aspect of the festival was seeing how the issues that mixed-race people have also occur with me. I've always been told since childhood that I sound different than other black people, and I should be an English teacher because "you're not like the others". These types of comments are not used exclusively with mixed-race people or black people that grew up in rural areas. We share some of the same experiences. The festival only made me realize that people of color need to gather more often to express their shared experiences in this strange and sometimes cruel world.

Q: What did you learn from your experience there?
A: I learned that this is one of probably several organizations or groups that deal with the issues of people of color. Mixed Roots and other organizations should collaborate more on ideas. These collaborations could end in some educational materials to disperse throughout different communities via film, more festivals, etc.

Q: How do you think this festival helps mixed-race people? Non mixed-race people?
A: The participants of this festival were able to express their feelings through spoken word, panels and films about the issue of being mixed-race in America. I can't say that I'm not mixed-race because American Indian, Caucasian and Dutch blood runs in my veins. However, being as dark as I am, I felt a kinship with the mixed-race people at the festival. I think it brought all human beings closer together. We are all mixed in some way. Unfortunately, not all Americans feel this way. People need to be educated through film and well-publicized films. There will always be ignorant people who just won't believe they need to know anything other than their own views. But now is the time for festivals like this to be more visible to everyone. Let's bombard the airwaves with the message of unity.

Q: Will you return next year and, if so, in what capacity?
A: I would love to return to the festival next year. I hope I have something to contribute. I've written a book with a brief mention about interracial dating. I'm presently working on my second book that talks exclusively about interracial dating. I'm presently editing the first book, "A Change is Gonna Come". The second book is still in the writing stage. So, I hope that I could be on a panel next year talking about interracial dating.

Thank you, Dora.

Finally, guess who was on Nodojiman this past Sunday? Evidently, Jero has a new record although it didn't rock quite like his other enka tunes. Here's a peek at him as he appeared on the show. Apologies for the image taken with my cell phone camera.

And, here's another shout-out; this one to One Brown Girl for posting an article I wrote about race. You can read it here:

Hey, I love hearing from you HHH's so please keep your emails coming to me at

You can also join our Hip Hapa Homeez group on Facebook.

And, don't forget our Hapa*Teez t-shirts! Very soon, I'll have some updates about the film, Watermelon Sushi.

Until we meet again, I will always be

Your Hip Hapa,


Kip said...

Hi Yayoi,

Good post.

Yayoi Lena Winfrey said...

Aloha Kip,

Mahalo nui loa for your comments! {My message to you is better late than never, I hope. ; ) }

Your Hip Hapa,