Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Blackanese Boy

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez!

Blackanese Boy, Ramon
This month’s featured Hip Hapa Homee is Ramon Calhoun who just published his novel, Blacknese Boy. Read what Ramon has to say about being multiracial and a writer, below. Here’s the url to his book:

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

A: My father is black American and my mother is Japanese American (sansei).  Supposedly they met while at the Monterey Jazz festival in the 1960's. They then moved in together in San Francisco and were basically hippies; mom had super long hair, and dad had a big Afro.

Q: Where and how did you grow up?

A: I grew up in San Francisco, and was raised primarily by my mother and my Japanese American family. I went to a Japanese bilingual school from grades 1-5, and also was involved in a Japanese American Cub and Boy Scout troop (located in Japantown) as a child, up into my teens. I also spent time in the country, near Lodi, the central part of California, where my grandparents on my mother's side lived.

My parents separated when I was a child. My father wasn't around that much; he led a bohemian life, so would pop in and out on occasion. My close friends and peers growing up were either Japanese American, or mixed Japanese.

Ramon with his mother
Q: How do you identify, and how did you first shape your identity?

A: I identify as mixed, as Blackanese. My identity as a child was shaped by many factors and influences: my mother, my relatives, my classmates, and then society and culture. I first identified as Japanese as a child. As I got older, my identity changed and switched and evolved. At various times in my life, I identified as Mexican, black, Indian, Filipino, Hawaiian and Mediterranean. It was challenging because there weren't any fellow Blasians around me, nor in popular culture. I was always the ONLY one. Now, as an adult, I fully embrace both my black and Japanese American heritages, and am proud to be Blackanese!

Q:  What motivated you to write about your experiences and put them in a novel?

A: I was motivated to write about my experience because I'm a writer/artist, first and foremost, and wanted to express something that is deeply felt by me. I wanted to use my experience as the basis for the main character and create a work of fiction. Also, there are no novels out there that have Blackanese people as their main characters. There's a hole out there when it comes to stories about Blasians, and so I wanted to address that. I want to read about such characters, and I want to have such characters out in the world for people to read about. It's such a diverse, complex country, and all our stories should be read/heard.

Q: There are lots of mixed-race forums now compared to 10 years ago. What advice do you have for mixies who want to follow in your shoes and write fiction about multiracial folks?

A: Go for it! I hope that many more mixed folk will write stories and novels. It doesn't have to be about being multi-racial per se, but just having us out there, as writers and artists in the public eye, is a positive thing. I think people should write about what they feel strongly about, whatever the topic or story. Writing about being mixed isn't easy, at least for me it isn't. But I want to continue writing about this (and other topics) because I feel so strongly about it. It truly is in my blood!

fellow Blasians, Ramon with artist/poet Sabrena Taylor
Q: It's unusual to see a mixed-race man write a book about being mixed although we've seen lots of published material from women. To what do you attribute that?

A: I guess that's true. Not sure why that is because there's many male black American writers, and male Latino writers, who write about race and ethnicity. I think it has to do with my passion for bringing my story and what it's like being Blackanese into the world. I want other people to read about it, to have some understanding of the complexities and challenges of being mixed like that. I want people to know that people like me exist, and to put us Blasians on the map so to speak.

Also, my father is a poet. His name is Conyus Calhoun. He's been published. I probably inherited the love of the word from him.  Though he was hardly around, his love of jazz and poetry is something that stayed with me.

Ramon with friend, Calvert
Q: What's next?

A: This novel is self-published, without any professional marketing or advertising, so there won't be any signings or book tours or anything like that--unless by some miracle it gains a wider audience and reaches a national attention. But I don't think that's going to happen. 

I'm currently working on some short stories. I'm very excited about them, as the writing is a bit different from the novel. They're not so strongly based on reality. When they're ready to be published, I'll submit them and see what happens. I feel very strongly about them.

I have another novel in the back of my head. I'll start writing that probably in a year or two. I already have ideas about it. I'm really looking forward to starting this, and to see what comes out.

Ramon at Tomales Bay
Arrigatou gozaimasu and thank you, Ramon. Hip Hapa Homeez, you can learn more about people like Blackanese Boy by joining and frequenting our Facebook group page—Hip Hapa Homeez. Please, also check out 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


See you again on June 4 for another interview with a Hip Hapa Homee like you!

Your Hip Hapa,