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,