Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Shiwasu: Moving Forward In Our Multi-Culti World

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou, Hip Hapa Homeez! That’s HAPA (happy) New Year in Hawaiian. Although it’s a little early to send you that greeting, we at Watermelon Sushi World are participating in Shiwasu.

A Japanese custom, Shiwasu is when we finish out the old year to begin a new one. In other words; we clear our bodies, minds, homes, school lives and/or work environment of negative energies in order to start positively in the new year. It can mean getting rid of an old job that’s gone stale, or even a person who has drained us emotionally.

Here’s more about Shiwasu:

For this Watermelon Sushi World blog, Shiwasu means we’re changing our old format of monthly interviews. Instead of profiling someone new every first Wednesday, we’re changing to a bimonthly--or every other month--production. Sometimes, we’ll feature an interviewee, and sometimes not.

Our focus will still be on multiethnic folks, interracial relationships, transracial adoptions and those who cross cultures, such as expats. If you fit one of those categories, please drop us an email and tell us your story.

The idea is to change what we’ve been doing for so long to something fresh, although we’ll continue to be active at the following links:

Watermelon Sushi film

Watermelon Sushi on Facebook

Hapa*Teez on YouTube

Hapa*Teez on Facebook

Hapa*Teez on Café Press

War Brides of Japan v.2 on YouTube

War Brides of Japan on YouTube

War Brides of Japan on Facebook

Yayoi Lena Winfrey fan page on Facebook (sorry, but Your Hip Hapa can’t add any more friends to her regular profile page)

Sexy Voices of Hollywood


Remember, Hapa*Teez t-shirts are available at Café Press and make great holiday gifts. If you’ve ever made a purchase, please send us your photo to incorporate in our next video, like this one:

And, don’t forget to join our Hip Hapa Homeez group on Facebook where we discuss being multiethnic, interracially involved, transracially adopted and/or crossing cultures.

Finally, mahalo nui loa to all you loyal fans and followers. Banzai!

Until February 2014 , when we’ll meet again, omedetto gozaimasu from...

Your Hip Hapa,


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

To Weave An Identity

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez!

Last month’s Hawai’i International Film Festival featured some amazing movies from around the world. Among them was a documentary directed by a local, Christen Hepuakoa (Hepuakoamanaaheleihiehieonaonamekekapu’o’nali'iamekahanohanoamauanaia) Marquez.
Christen’s film is a journey to explore the middle name “woven” by her mother and its ensuing loss when Christen’s family is torn apart. Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian people) believe names are sacred and should evoke their ancestors. After Christen’s mother is diagnosed with mental illness, Christen and her siblings are taken away by their father to the mainland. But decades later, Christen returns to learn the true meaning of her name and to heal the relationship between her and the mother she once lost.

To learn more about Christen’s film, E Haku Inoa (To Weave a Name), check out the links below. Meanwhile, here’s what the director has to say about her mixed roots and more:

Q: Christen, who are your parents and how did they meet?

A: My mother is Native Hawaiian/Filipino and my father is Caucasian. (French/English/German). They met through my Mom's sister. 

Q: How did you grow up?

A: In Hawai’i, where I lived until I was in third grade, the whole island is a mixed race environment. After that, it was Seattle, then as an adult, New York and Los Angeles.

Q: What made you decide to explore your Kanaka Maoli culture and the meaning of your Hawaiian name through your film?

A: I felt ashamed that I did not know the meaning of my own name, but I chose to turn that into a positive curiosity instead of something self-loathing and destructive. 

photo credit: Linda Marquez Schmidt
Q: How did your family feel about you making their lives so public?

A: They were surprisingly okay with it. I think it was because at first they didn’t ever believe that the film would be on television, but I had been telling everyone in the family that it would be. So, when it finally started to materialize, they couldn’t say that I never warned them.

photo credit: Amber McClure

Q: What was the most important discovery in your quest to reconnect with your Hawaiian roots?

A: It was important for me to reconnect with other people who validated the spiritual connection that I feel to the islands. 

Q: You also made a film about a Cambodian woman searching for her siblings in Two Shadows. Do you find yourself crossing cultures often? How much of that is attributable to your being mixed yourself?

A: That is a great question! I do think it has a lot to do with being multi-racial myself. As multi-racial people, we get glimpses of bigotry that might otherwise be hidden to us and also get treated as insiders into places we might not actually be from. Because of that, it is really important for me to be as culturally educated and as sensitive as I possibly can be. All of that paired with my personal enjoyment of new experiences, I think, leads me to cross cultures more comfortably than some other people. 

Q: Please share information about your future projects.

A: I’m currently working on a project about Hawaiian Language sovereignty songs that I hope to begin shooting in 2014. For other information about my projects and work, please visit me at or as well as on facebook at and twitter @paradocsfilm

Mahalo nui loa, Christen.

Hey, Hip Hapa Homeez, please show your support by visiting our website, YouTube links and Facebook pages listed here. Also, request membership in our Facebook group, Hip Hapa Homeez, where we discuss being mixed, interracially involved, transracially adopted and crossing cultures.

Hapa*Teez on YouTube

Hapa*Teez on Facebook

Hapa*Teez on Café Press

War Brides of Japan v.2 on YouTube

War Brides of Japan on YouTube

War Brides of Japan on Facebook

Yayoi Lena Winfrey fan page on Facebook (sorry, but Your Hip Hapa can’t add any more friends to her regular profile page)

Sexy Voices of Hollywood


A hui hou.

Your Hip Hapa,

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Fetish, Fixation Or Just A Fondness For...

in-progress documentary
Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez.

Welcome back to Watermelon Sushi World where we inform and update you about the latest haps in our multi-culti, mixed-race universe.

Remember, you can join our discussions about biracial, blended, hapa, international, interracial, mestizo, mixed race, multicultural, and/or transracially adopted topics by requesting membership in our now Closed Group—Hip Hapa Homeez--on Facebook. You do not have to be a person with a mixed-race heritage, just someone who cares to contribute to our ongoing talks.

And, while you’re there on Facebook, please do us the honor of liking our Watermelon Sushi and War Brides of Japan fan pages—two in-progress films we’re producing. For a list of other sites you can like to support us, check out the end of this blog.

This month’s featured Hip Hapa Homee may shock you by his frank opinions on Asian, and in particular Japanese, women. Some have called it SEX-PLOITATION, but until you’ve read his book (Black Passenger Yellow Cabs), perhaps you shouldn’t—ahem--judge it by its cover. Anyway, let’s let author Stefhen Bryan tell it:

Q: Stefhen, what’s your ethnic background?

A: I'm from Jamaica. As you may or may not know, Jamaica is an island mostly of descendants of African slaves. Hence, I am a Jamaican Negro.

Q: What was it like growing up there?

A: 95% of the population in Jamaica is of Negro African descent. The other 5% is South Asian (Indian), East Asian (Chinese), European and Middle Eastern (Syrian) descent. Though the Chinese were a small minority, they owned all the shops and haberdasheries. So, yellow Asians became my economic role model from early childhood; and, I decided from then that my wife would be yellow, too. 

Q: What was your impetus for moving to Japan and when did you go?

A: I figured if I liked "rice", I should be in a rice field. Why be in a potato patch when I like rice? So, I moved to Japan from California on Wednesday April 18, 2001.

Q: What motivated you to write Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: Of Exile and Excess in Japan?

A: As an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), I had tons of time on my hands and I wanted to write about this amazingly novel experience I was having in my newfound home. 

Q: What's it like for you living in Japan now, compared to a dozen years ago? Is there more or less acceptance of gaijin (foreign people)? 

A: When I first arrived, there were only 1 million foreigners and not many people spoke English. Now, there are about 2.5 million foreigners and more people speaking English. I still get stares, but not as much as I did a decade ago. 

Q: Being married to a Japanese woman, you must have some thoughts about how interracial couples fare in Japan. Can you share?

A:  I think interracial couples and children in Japan experience far less stress than they did 10 years ago. It’s not perfect, but I think in many cases the kids are glorified as kakkoii (good looking, cool). 

Q: What are some mixed-race, interracial and cross-cultural projects you're working on now?

A: Actually, my wife and I are currently temporarily in the U.S., as she was accepted to a graduate law program at the University of Southern California a few years ago, and I embarked on a book tour. Since being in the U.S., I've written a second book, Only Begotten, and a solo play, Doodu Boy, which is partly based on Black Passenger Yellow Cabs. Doodu Boy debuted in Los Angeles on August 23, and is being translated to Japanese for me to perform when I get back home to Japan next spring.  

Here are the links to my new book and the solo play fan page on Facebook.


Domo arrigatou gozaimasu, Stefhen. Hey, Hip Hapa Homeez, drop us a line if you’d like to be featured here on Watermelon Sushi World. And, please check out the links below.

Ja, mata ne?

Your Hip Hapa,

Mahalo Hapa*Teez fans (left to right): Cassie, Teri, Robert, Ejiro, Carol, Eva and Julia.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Not As Easy As Black And White

Aloha Hip Hapa Homeez.

It’s still officially summer, and we’ve been out playing way past our bedtimes. Because of our activity-filled lives, our blog hasn’t been as robust lately. Not to worry. We’ll be bringing you more stories of mixed-race people, interracial relationships, transracial adoptees and culture crossers soon. And, if you’ve got a book, film or other product that targets the multicultural community, please drop us a line.

This month’s featured Hip Hapa Homee is Mike Reed, a life-long Northwest resident who grew up in foster care. A computer geek and comic book enthusiast, Mike also supervises a group of laborers, all with developmental disabilities including disorders like Tourette Syndrome and ADD.

half-Asian Bobby offers black doll to half-black Mike, left
Q: Mike, tell us about your parents.

A: My mother, Judy Reed, is white. My father, Clearance Reed, is black. I have no idea how they met.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: Mostly in Washington State, mostly in white communities. I lived in Chicago for one year. As a foster child, I lived with various people. I never had a stable home and once, while living in one, I was removed by the State. Many good people tried to help, but the State of Washington worked against them.

Q: How did you identify as a mixed-race black/white child, and how do you identify now?

A: I do not identify with any group or race.

Q: What have been some instances where you experienced racism due to your mixed-race heritage?

A: The one that stands out is when I was in Chicago and called the police after being beaten by unknown black gang bangers. When the cop finally arrived, he told me that one does not call 911 for this reason. He said if he had to come back, he would beat me himself.

I have also been called names and accused of being races that I am not. I have had items thrown at me--from a moving vehicle once, and in a crowd once. I never did see who they were, but I heard one of them call me a “camel jockey”.

I have also experienced racism from girlfriends’ parents. Most of them were white except for one Asian parent who did not want me dating her Asian/white daughter. She said I would become a drug user by age 30 and did not want that for her daughter.

Mike with Your Hip Hapa
(Notes from Your Hip Hapa: I was once in the car with Mike when he drove to visit a white “friend” in Seattle. The “friend” happened to be in his front yard and as our car slowed, he peeked inside. “Man," he said laughing, "I thought you were a terrorist."

In 2004, several years after 9/11, Mike visited me in Santa Monica. As we toured the LaBrea Tar Pits, a famous tourist landmark, a white man approached us and pointed to Mike aiming his camera. “I don’t think you should be taking photos over here,” he said as if doing him a favor. “They might arrest you,” he warned.)

Q: As a mixed-race black/white man, how did you feel about Barrack Obama being elected president of the U.S.?

A: I was relieved that the opposition did not win. I knew racists would have problems with it, but my decision was not based on his race. People do not see mixed-race individuals, they see whatever color they want to see.

Bobby finds a white and an Asian doll at IKEA
to rep his Caucasian and Thai roots
Q: How does having a mixed-race identity help you relate to people with developmental disabilities?

A: I recognize discrimination when I see it. Disabled people are one of the most discriminated groups around. Very few people take the time to listen to them.  

Q: Any thoughts about the future for mixed-race people like you?

A: I have no expectations for the future for anyone as long as religion is around. We will all be eliminated someday judging by the earth’s age verses the length man has been on it.

Mahalo nui loa, Mike.

Here’s a video clip of Mike and some of the men he supervises hanging out at the Puyallup Fair.

Remember, join us at our Hip Hapa Homeez group page on Facebook where we often have these types of discussions.

And, check out these links:

Mike's friend, Rob Lee, in a Hapa*Teez

Until fall, when we’ll meet again, I remain

Your Hip Hapa,