Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Multi-Culti Musical Star Of Michigan

Yo, yo, yo! Can Your Hip Hapa just say that you Hip Hapa Homeez are the hippest of all hapa homeez in the world! You’ve exceeded all of Your Hip Hapa’s expectations by: 1. “liking” our Watermelon Sushi fan page on Facebook to the tune of 1,700 members; 2. generously purchasing Hapa*Teez t-shirts to help support the Watermelon Sushi film; 3. interacting with us on the Hip Hapa Homeez group page on Facebook by posting cross-cultural and multi-ethnic news and discussions, and; 4. following our erratic tweets on Twitter. Give yourself a big up!

And, while you’re taking your bows, be sure to check out this week’s featured Hip Hapa Homee, Toko Shiiki-Santos, a former actress and current photographer and musician with the multicultural band October Babies. That’s Toko with the band in the shot below and, beneath that, a picture of her solo.

Here are the links:

Hey, if you’re in Michigan, you can join October Babies at "Top of The Park/Ann Arbor Summer Festival" on Thursday, July 8, at 6:30 p.m. They'll also join the lineup at "Concert of Colors Detroit" at the Max M. Fisher Music Center on Sunday, July 18, at 3:15 p.m. And, be sure to listen for October Babies' new album release--also in July. 

Q: What's a nice Japanese girl like you doing in an American rock band?

A: Around 2001 in Japan, I lost many things at the same time including my job, one of my family members, and so on. Also, I got into a car accident. Needless to say, I just could not do anything for a while mentally or physically. However, about a year later, I finally started thinking, "I want to try something that I really want to do. I don't want to stay in a small room forever!"

I had joined an actor’s guild right after graduating from high school, so I didn't have the experience of college and started thinking about studying at one. Luckily, I met a great American man who stayed in Japan for six months during the winter of 2002. He told me, "There are many good schools in Ann Arbor, Michigan." So, long story short, I visited Ann Arbor to check out the schools in the summer of 2003, and decided to move there. I saved money, learned English, got the TOEFL scores within two years, and finally moved to the U.S. to learn photography in May 2005. I was supposed to be back in Japan in 2007, but I eventually married the person who suggested I go to college in Michigan. He is our bassist, Erik Santos. 

After moving to the U.S., it was very hard everyday for me because of my lack of English. I could not speak it well. It was really bad, and I could not tell people about my thoughts and feelings. I felt so much frustration. At the time, I got to classes by riding my bicycle so I just sang out loud--anything that was in my mind--while riding. It became a huge stress reliever. Eventually, I created songs while on my bike.

One day, Erik found out I wrote a song. I was so nervous because he’s a professional musician--a music composition teacher at the University of Michigan, and I'm just a music lover. You could imagine how nervous I was, but he was great. He didn't laugh at my song, but rather said, "Let's record it!" So, we immediately recorded it, and he arranged it so beautifully and powerfully, and gave back it to me on my first birthday celebration in the U.S. When we went out for my birthday dinner, he turned on the car stereo and I heard my song! I didn't expect it at all. I was just shocked. That became the first song--Let's Fly to the Moon Tonight--for our first album.

Eventually, we created the entire album Ao-zora Radio. Around us, there were many great musicians and they listened to the album, but almost all the songs were in Japanese. I did not expect to be able to sing those songs in front of people in the U.S. because I thought no one would enjoy listening to Japanese songs at live venues here. But, Erik and our other friends (now my great band members) encouraged me to do it. They said, "No problem. People are going to like the songs." They were right! I’ve been amazed by the open-minded U.S. audiences, and the power of music.

I almost always write songs in Japanese and present them to Erik first and, then, the other band members. They start arranging them, but mainly Erik first. It’s a very intriguing creative process to me because those arrangements are something I never expect when I write the songs. For example, one song had more of a Japanese influence to me, but they took it as a Western influenced song. And, a miracle happened. The song became an interesting mix of cultures! If I had recorded those songs with Japanese (or someone raised in Japan), the songs might be different. I really love those unexpected outcomes. I feel so lucky to be here and to be with all the people whom I love. I have no reason to go back to Japan because I love staying here.

Q: Years ago, Sakamoto Kyu had a huge hit in the U.S. with a Japanese song re-titled Sukiyaki. Do you feel you can do something similar?

A: At first, I was so scared to sing Japanese songs in front of American audiences. I wasn’t optimistic even when I knew Sakamoto Kyu-san's song had been widely accepted. Since I was a child, I really listened to foreign language songs all the time because people around me were like that. I really didn't have any barriers to enjoying songs that I didn't know the meanings of. I just simply enjoyed the musical flow. Always. I believe in the power of music. No matter what language the songs are in, if they fit someone's taste, I believe anyone can enjoy them—and, our music, too, anywhere in the world.

Q: What was your life like in Japan? What do you miss, or don’t?

A: I was an actress for about 10 years. I acted in some television dramas, but was more of a stage actress. My first actor's guild was Bungakuza, which gave me my first professional acting experience. It’s a huge company and I learned a lot, but left a few years later because I didn't like the system and acting so often. Somehow, I continued to act in movies, TV dramas, and theater.

Towards the end of my time in Japan, I was a sports instructor--before the car accident. Being in show business is a different kind of lifestyle from ordinary people. It's very tough. Most of the time, I was thinking about other people's lives; the lives I portrayed in my roles. I rarely hung out with my friends and stayed out of normal Japanese society. During that time, I was kind of crazy--thinking about other people's lives all the time. Many of my good friends also told me that I just disappeared for a while.

But once I decided to be a sports instructor, I started re-connecting with my friends. After moving to the U.S., I opened myself more to almost anything. I try to do many new things. I'm actually not an extrovert, but I try to go out to meet people. This is a huge change.

What I miss about Japan is family, friends and, of course, the food; and, places where I love to be. What I don’t miss are the intense societal rules and high expectations for the individual.

Q: You’re also a photographer. How is it similar to or different from acting?

A: The similar part is telling stories to the world. Something I enjoy the most is thinking of the stories thoroughly and visualizing the world that is inside myself. Those things are common between acting and photography. What’s different is that in photography, I show the inner world by involving others (people or nature around me), but for acting I use myself directly, and live in it and tell other people's stories. But I think it's still connected to my life and my inner world even if I've had a role in someone else's stories. It’s difficult to think about boundaries.

Q: What’s your husband’s ethnicity, how did you meet, and what’s it like being in a mixed-race marriage?

A: My husband is of Scottish American and Filipino mix, and has lived in the U.S. since he was born. Erik was in Japan as a resident composer for a famous Butoh dance company, Dairakudakan. I met him after their show and had a chance to talk with him for around half an hour although I hardly spoke English. We somehow could talk about music. But, after the meeting, I already started thinking, "Maybe it would be great to learn something in another country."

To be honest with you, I didn't have any good expectations about marriage because of my parents. If I had stayed in Japan, I would have avoided it. I didn't think I needed a marital partner in my life. However, I met Erik. I really don't know the differences between a mixed-race marriage and same-race marriage. In any case, this is an everyday learning process. I guess that no matter what kind of marriage it is, there are difficulties. I think; "So far, so good." 

My mom also didn't think I would marry anyone. Like I said, I'm not that kind of woman. But, she loved him from the first time she met him. She even said she wanted to marry him! Ha-ha. My grandma, who passed away a few years ago, had difficulty accepting the marriage because I moved to the U.S., but even so, she liked him. And, Erik’s mom loves me so much and I love her. I sometimes think, “Do I really deserve this? Is this real?” But I deeply appreciate all the encounters in my life.

Q: Where does the name October Babies come from? Don't tell me you're all born in October!

A: Yes! My husband and I were born in October! His birthday is on the 21st and mine, the 14th. And, we started playing as a band on October 19, 2007!

Q: What's in the near future for you and October Babies?

A: The second album that we made as a band that’s very close to our "live" sound is on its way! I can't wait to share it with everyone. Also, we’re playing in Japan again next year. This is one of our big plans. And, we hope to play more in other states in the U.S. and, eventually, all over the world!

Gambatte, ichiban, Toko-san and October Babies!

Meanwhile, Hip Hapa Homeez, this week’s featured Amazon product is the book A Wealth of Family by author Thomas Brooks. You may recall that he was interviewed here last year:

Until next time, I leave you with a multi-culti song in your heart.

Your Hip Hapa,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hip Hapa Hare Krishna

Welcome back to Watermelon Sushi World, all you Hip Hapa Homeez! Recently, someone informed me about his disdain for our Facebook Group name, also called Hip Hapa Homeez, but Your Hip Hapa begs to differ. Being the playful person that I am, I opted for a name that described us multiethnic folks as cool and together beings. Dude, we’re hip, we’re hapa, we’re homeez!

As you’re probably aware, the word “hapa” is currently misused in our community. What started out as the way Native Hawai’ian people (Kanaka Maoli) pronounced the English word "half" (due to the lack of certain phonetics in their language), the word “hapa” incorrectly became the way to describe mixies who are half Asian. Nothing could be farther from the truth since the original blendies in Hawai’i were of Kanaka Maoli and European ancestry.

Since the purpose of this blog is to present information in an entertaining fashion, the aforementioned group; our Watermelon Sushi filmwebsite, and Facebook fan page; and, our line of Hapa*Teez t-shirts all have names reflecting that attitude. While we blendies and mixes have an important message to present, we should also attempt to do so with a sense of humor. By taking a pop culture approach, we will attract those from the mainstream who want to be supportive yet could possibly be turned off by a strictly academic mode. For now, the name(s) stay(s), but if you have any ideas, please drop us a line at

Now, for this week's featured Hip Hapa Homee, meet Charles Byrd. You can read about him at his website here:

And, here’s the blog for his book, The Bhagavad-gita in Black and White: From Mulatto Pride to Krishna Consciousness:

Below are photos of Charles and, at the very bottom, a link to his book that you can purchase on Amazon.

Q: What's a nice multiracial guy like you doing authoring, blogging and writing about transcending race?

A: My political activism and writing regarding multiracial identity and transcending race-consciousness stem from my racial mixture and upbringing. I was born in the 1950’s in Abingdon Virginia, and am of white, black and Cherokee heritage.

Like many mixed-race individuals, I suffered through identity crises--specifically the one wherein it dawns on you that the image in the mirror in no way resembles the label that society hangs on you at birth. Writing about being mixed or mulatto in the segregated South and the need to create an identity for myself, other than simply black or passing for white, has been therapeutic as well as instrumental in networking with others in the same situation around the globe.

Q: Who are you parents and how did you grow up?

A: My black mother and white father could not legally marry in Virginia in 1952 and, for various reasons, I actually never knew my dad. My mom left me with my maternal grandparents who raised me in their house. Though white in appearance, I attended the all-black Kings Mountain Elementary in Abingdon from 1958 to 1964. The following year, integration came to the public schools and I attended Abingdon High School in 1965. That, interestingly enough, was my first exposure to white kids in an academic environment.

Kings Mountain was one of the three predominately black neighborhoods in Abingdon, and I was one of three white-looking students in elementary school. Most of the black kids treated us relatively well, though I did receive my fair share of “white nigger” and “high yellow” epithets over the years.

My mother’s family was mixed for generations, so I am not a first-generation mixie like President Obama. My maternal grandmother, for example, was as light as me with high cheekbones and long straight hair characteristic of Native American tribes. Her father was half black and half Cherokee.

In 1966, I moved to New York City. What a huge change that was!

Q: When did you first learn about Vedic philosophy, and are you a Hare Krishna?

A: I was introduced to the Bhagavad-gita (the “Hindu Bible” to some) about ten years ago or so. The word Veda is Sanskrit for "knowledge" and the Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. These texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism--if not the entire world as they are thought to be well over four thousand-years old. The Gita, an important source book on yoga, is the essence of India's Vedic wisdom and is one of the great spiritual and philosophical classics of the world.

I haven’t donned the saffron or shaved my head (fashion-wise, I’ve always preferred that long-haired Jesus Christ look), but back in June 2002 I did take harinam initiation (receiving the Mahamantra or the “great chant for deliverance” from a guru) from His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja who gave me the spiritual name Charukrishna Das. (“Charukrishna” means “Beautiful Krishna” and “Das” indicates that I am a devotee of Krishna.)

Q: How long did it take you to write your book, and what was the process?

A: Not that long as it is a compilation of essays relating to racial identity politics that I wrote between 1995 and 2003. All of those essays or editorials are still archived on the Interracial Voice website.

Essentially, I named and fashioned each section of the book after the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad-gita. Along with synopses of each Gita chapter, I included commentary culled from those Interracial Voice editorials as well as from other contributors. In addition to each chapter’s race commentary, I included a specific Gita verse or two for the purpose of expanding on that commentary from the Vedic perspective.

I believe the mix of tough political commentary with spiritual meditations works, and I did it because so many people are not aware of what has transpired over the past decade and more in this country vis-à-vis the politics of racial identity. Specifically, I’m referring to the battles to freely and publicly name self (whether on Census forms or otherwise) and for freedom of association; e.g., the fight over the legalization of interracial marriage.

Once the insanity of it all becomes crystal clear, perhaps those reading this interview (regardless of how they currently self-identify racially) will opt to spend the rest of their lives cultivating spiritual enlightenment--the ability not merely to name self but to know self. If they do so decide, my suggestion for a starting point is Vedanta. I encourage all of your readers to buy a copy.

Q: Your book seems to impart the message that we are all spirits having a human experience; that flesh, especially its color, doesn't matter, and that race doesn't exist. Have you been able to convince a lot of people of that?

A: Yeah, that’s the age-old question: Are we human beings having occasional spiritual experiences, or are we spiritual beings having occasional human experiences? I think it’s the latter, and when you realize that you are not your body--rather you are the soul or spirit that survives the death of the body--it gives you a totally different perspective on the whole notion of racial identity. We’re so immersed in bodily-consciousness--identifying with flesh instead of spirit, form instead of essence--that we have a tough time relinquishing our hold on racial, ethnic or cultural identity, however. Most people are exceedingly comfortable with the racial identity imposed upon them by society, and they are often hostile to someone who comes along and suggests an alternate approach.

Organized religion is a hindrance in this regard as well. Most religious sects still march in unconscious lockstep to the American racialist party line that proclaims the existence of separate and distinct racial groupings on planet Earth. Is it any wonder, then, that so many people turn their gaze eastward toward India’s ancient wisdom?

Q: Your Interracial Voice website contains some very controversial articles, especially about community leaders like Kwesi Mfume and Jesse Jackson.

A: I have never been a fan of either Jackson or Mfume, and I have never been shy saying that. For my money, Jackson is a politician cloaked in the guise of religiosity. He is the farthest thing from being a spiritual leader. Mfume’s NAACP was the organization most virulently and stridently opposed to any sort of change to the 2000 Census, any change that would allow mixed folk to self-identify as something other than a single race. So much for the “progressive” nature of liberal politics. 

These sentiments of mine have, inexplicably, caused some to accuse me of an anti-black bias. Nothing is further from the truth. While I have criticized the self-appointed black political leadership (when exactly was Jesse Jackson elected President of Black America? ), I have taken care not to condemn the black populace in general. Unfortunately, some equate any negative critique of the former with criticism of the latter.

From my vantage point, the black priesthood--which still dominates black political discourse of the type that brooks no competition of political or philosophical views--advances a largely political agenda based on maintaining racial divisiveness, rather than a vision of the spirit soul attaining eternal association with God.

As the illegitimate, white-looking son born of a dark-skinned woman in a small Virginia town, I squandered innumerable years wandering in the darkest mental ignorance before ultimately discovering that my atma-dharma (the natural devotional inclination of the soul or atma) or purpose on this planet was not to be a loyal servant to the politics of racial identity. Our eternal atma-dharma has nothing to do with the dharma of body, dynasty, caste or race, although those who falsely identify the body as the real self cannot understand this.

If that adds up to being anti-black, I plead guilty as charged.

Q: Any future plans?

A: I would like to write another book and, this time around, have a mainstream publisher buy it. There’s a love story loosely centered around my employment at a federal agency that I’m kicking around in my head. Maybe I’ll go in that direction.

Namaste, Charles, for the enlightenment.

Okay, you Hip Hapa Homeez, show your love by joining our HHH Group page and our Watermelon Sushi Fan page on Facebook. You can also follow us on Twitter. And, by purchasing a Hapa*Teez t-shirt, you will not only support our film but will also receive a rear-crawl credit. Until we meet again, ohm shanti from

Your Hip Hapa,

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hafus: Japanese Hapas

Yo, Hip Hapa Homeez! Big ups and mad love to all you blendies, mixies, and multi-culti mortals here in our Watermelon Sushi World.

Our featured Hip Hapa Homee this week is Megumi Nishikura, director and producer of Hafu, a film about the experiences of mixed-race people living in Japan. To learn more about Megumi’s documentary project, visit the link here:

The flyer for the film appears below followed by photos taken at a fundraising party for Hafu. Megumi is in the red dress.

Q: What's a nice hafu girl like you doing making a film about multiethnic Japanese people?

A: Hafu feels like the film I was destined to make. I’ve been exploring my own dual identity for a number of years through personal films. However, when I realized how little mainstream media coverage there was of this subject in Japan, I felt called forth to share the experiences of people who identify as hafus with a greater audience. Hafu is the Japanese term for "half" and signifies that one is half-Japanese and half something else. At the moment, we are using this as the title of the film as it is the most recognizable term to call people who are mixed-Japanese, but this may change later.

Q: Who are your parents and how did you grow up?

A: My mother is Irish-American and my father is Japanese. My mother came to Japan to teach English in the mid-1970s and met my dad at a party. He's a bit on the stocky side, so she remembered him by thinking, "Ooh, here's a fat Japanese!"…and the rest was history. I was born a few years later in Tokyo.

I feel very blessed to have had the upbringing I did. My father's work as a journalist took us to the Philippines, China and to the U.S. I went to high school in Hawai’i and then to film school in New York. I was raised to appreciate other cultures and languages as well as have a good understanding of my own. As a result, I consider myself to be citizen of the world, more than a citizen of any one country.

Tokyo was our home base, and about 1/3 of my life has been in Japan. As a hafu child growing up here, I was stared at, teased, and called a "foreigner" or "half human." Somehow, I had the awareness that this was just childhood antics and laughed it off--never letting it penetrate too deeply. Luckily, through family friends and attending international schools, I was never far from the company of other hafus. When I left Japan for high school and university in the U.S., I noticed how people approached me differently than they had in Japan. People would ask out of curiosity, "What are you?" They seemed far more open-minded and sincerely interested in my diverse make-up.

Even today, I am treated as a foreigner on a daily basis here in Tokyo because of my external appearance. However, since coming back to Tokyo nearly four years ago, the more time I spend here, the more that I feel that this is my home and these Tokyoites are my people.

Q: How much do you know about Japanese culture?

A: I've lived in Japan for about 10 years. I speak the language proficiently enough to do a job here, but I still struggle when it comes to reading and writing. Japanese culture has always been a matter of fact for me, i.e., we eat seaweed-wrapped rice balls, have super efficient fast trains and toilets, and wear kimono on special occasions. I've never had more or less interest in it than my American side.

Q: What inspired you to make this film?

A: In 2006, when I returned to Japan to attend graduate school, I was confronted as an adult to reexamine what it means to be Japanese and hafu. With a "look" that is not even perceived as the "hafu-look" by Japanese, I am often complimented on the level of my Japanese language ability. When Japanese people meet me for the first time, it is often to their disbelief that someone with my name—a fully Japanese one—could look so foreign to them. They sometimes ask, "Is your husband Japanese?"

Last June, I came across a photo/research project called the Hafu Japanese Project ( started by Marcia Yumi Lise and Natalie Maya Willer. I got in touch with them, offered my skills as a filmmaker, and we began by interviewing people on the streets of Tokyo about their perceptions of hafus. From this collaboration, the seeds of this feature documentary film was born. I also met my filmmaking partner Lara Perez Takagi through their project.

My intention with this film is to contribute to a dialogue about the changing face in Japan. According to the 2008 findings of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, one in thirty babies born in Japan today are born to a couple where at least one of the parents is not Japanese. That's a lot of people who will grow up with bi-cultural identities in a country that once proudly proclaimed itself to be homogeneous.

I believe that the definition of what it means to be Japanese needs to change and change in a way that includes people like myself and the participants in this film. Most of all, I want to create something that will open up people's perceptions to what the hafu experience is like and to remind them of our common humanity. 

Q: Why does it seem like the Japanese refer to hafu as someone who is half European and not of other mixes.

A: Most likely the reason is because of how hafus are portrayed in the media. Hafus are often considered kawaii (cute) or kakkoi (cool) because what people see on television are models, singers, sports players and other performers. Most of these hafus are Eurasian or half-North American. There is very little coverage of other hafus and what their everyday lives are like in Japan. In this film, we are hoping to reflect the tremendous diversity within the hafu community.

Our first participant is David Yano (pictured above) who is Ghanaian and Japanese. David was raised in an orphanage here in Japan when his parents divorced due to cultural differences. Yet, despite this, when he traveled back to Ghana in his early twenties, he realized how blessed he was to have grown up in Japan. Now, he is using his talents as a musician/performer to raise funds to build schools in Ghana. He's set the goal of raising approximately $30,000 by September. 

Our other confirmed story is the Mexican-Japanese Oi family. Gaby and Testuya, the parents, met when they were studying in the U.S. After returning to Japan, they started a family and had Alex in 2000 and Sarah two years later. It is through their story that we hope to show the challenges and joys in raising a multicultural and multilingual family. Alex has experienced ijime (teasing) at school, and now his parents are making the difficult decision whether or not to send their children to the public Japanese school or the more expensive international school system.

We are also hoping to tell the story of an Asian-mixed hafu and, of course, the Eurasian hafu to give a more complete picture of the diversity of hafus within Japan.

Q: What's the status of the film?

A: We began production at the beginning of the year and, thus far, have completed initial interviews with David and the Oi family. We have started talking with an initial third participant for the film and, once we do our first interview with him, we will publicly reveal who he is and his unique story of growing up hafu in Japan.

As mentioned before, we are looking to film an Asian-mixed hafu. We consider Asian-mixed hafus to be the "invisible hafus" because from external appearances they may look no different than the average Japanese person, but because of their bi-cultural upbringing they themselves identify as hafu.

We also recognize that there is a greater diaspora of hafus who have little or no experience of Japan. We are hoping to find someone who is about to arrive in Japan to experience their Japanese side and follow them over the course of several months to see what their expectations are of Japan and whether their time here will live up to them.

If you know anyone who fits this description please get in touch with us at

Also, as this is an independent film, we are fundraising in order to help us continue our production. This includes applying for grants and approaching sponsors, but we are also hoping to build a community of committed fans who will help us to see this project through to the end. If you are interested in contributing, you can find out how to do that on our website ( or by attending our sneak preview event on June 12.

Q: Tell us about that event.

A: We will be showing a sneak preview of the film as a way to fund raise for the film. The reason we selected June 12 is because in the U.S. it is Loving Day--the day that interracial marriage was legalized in 1967. While Japan never had anti-miscegenation laws, I feel that any significant movement towards civil rights and liberties should be honored and celebrated. Also, as I am part American, this day resonates deeply with me and, last year, I worked with the Loving Day team to help them produce a video about their flagship celebration in New York City.

We thought that June 12 would be the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate the growing diversity within Japan. The celebration will be taking place in Aoyama, Tokyo and we will have performances from a hafu comedic duo, who will crack jokes about being hafu in Japan, and a Korean-Japanese belly dancer. And, we will be presenting our film idea and about 15 minutes of footage.

We had a small kick-off party at my apartment in mid-May (picture above). Not only did we have a great turn out, but the response to our first six-minute clip was tremendous! We're currently busy editing away our second story to show on June 12. For anyone in Tokyo, I hope you can come out and support this important film!

Domo arrigato gozaimashita, Megumi-san. Much good fortune on your film project. Your Hip Hapa is very familiar with what it takes to make a movie and would like to remind you Hip Hapa Homeez that we’re still selling Hapa*Teez t-shirts to support our feature dramadey Watermelon Sushi. You can also show us love by joining our Watermelon Sushi Fan page on Facebook and, while you’re there, sign up on our Hip Hapa Homeez Group page. That’s where we post mixed-race and transracial adoptee stories, while we update you on the film at the Watermelon Sushi Fan page.

Normally, we post requests like the following on the Hip Hapa Homeez Group page, but for Alana Young's unusual need--the more exposure, the better. She’s looking for a quote from a person of mixed heritage, preferably more than two races. The quote will be used for a short speech at a symposium to share with new incoming university students to empower them about who they are as a person and their cultural background.

You can send your suggestions to or friend Alana Young on Facebook.

Finally, filmmaker Tim Nagae who was profiled here on August 26 of last year has won a Hometown Video Competition prize for his documentary about legendary Detroit African American artist Charles McGee. Tim, who is Japanese, says the film Charles McGee – Nature has been broadcast on local PBS TV stations and film festivals, too. Check out the prize at: (go to item #38).

And, don't forget Teri LaFlesh's amazing book, Curly Like Me, which you can purchase here.

Until we meet again, I am

Your Hip Hapa