German/Scottish/Welsh | Japanese
I identify as multiracial; Asian/Eurasian/Hapa. I usually just say ‘I’m Japanese, German, Scottish, and Welsh.’ I don’t practice any religion. I am a cisgender heterosexual female.
My dad is from Ota-ku, Tokyo, Japan and my mom is from Mount Pleasant, Iowa in the United States. They met in Tokyo, Japan. My mom was teaching English there for several years. I grew up mostly in Cranston, Rhode Island in the United States, but I was born in Davenport, Iowa. After Iowa we lived in Little Rock, Arkansas before moving to Cranston, Rhode Island.
I always understood that I was multiracial because my parents made a point to celebrate our ethnicities. But throughout my life, from a very young age, I remember people coming up to us and asking, ‘What are your kids?’ ‘Are they your biological kids?’, to my parents almost daily. As a very young kid I remember trying to start figuring out in my mind why people did that.
My parents were, and continue to be, very big about celebrating all of our ethnicities. We celebrated American holidays along with Japanese, German, and Scottish holidays. We learned about the general history of these countries and our families from these countries as well. We had kimono and yukata that we wore a few times a year, along with lederhosen! We talked about our Scottish family tartan (the Lindsey Tartan) and had our own set of Lindsey clothing as well. We ate food from all of these cultures and were always told to celebrate being mixed. My father always stressed that he was envious that we could exist in all of these worlds and be a part of them completely. He was one of the first people to teach us about self-worth and loving ourselves!
When you get to a certain age, people start to make fun of you if you are different. Being racially mixed can often make it difficult for people to classify you and put you in a box, overcoming this and understanding this was one of my biggest challenges in middle school and early high school. When you’re that age it’s easy to want to be like everyone else and not stand out. On top of that, there were almost no multiracial Asians on television, in movies, in books, in the news, you never learn about them in history, so understanding what it meant to be mixed and Asian was very difficult. This is the very reason I advocate for better representation. I remember growing up primarily around Hispanics and Blacks so my behaviors mirrored those around me, which made my idea of being Asian-American very blurry during this time. In the last five years I’ve fallen back in love with being a multiracial Asian-American and continue to advocate for more conversation and representation for us!
Growing up in a mixed household and having to be open to different perspectives made it easier to make friends with all different kinds of people. I find being multiracial and more racially ambiguous looking has made me more accessible to different groups of people. I have always been surrounded by diversity, so being fiercely open-minded, empathetic, and understanding has always been crucial. These characteristics are what I look for most in a partner and friends. I grew up in a very diverse environment and will always advocate for more inclusion. I also surround myself by people who understand why this is incredibly important to me.
Being multiracial has 150% affected what company I work for and what company I keep. If you are unable to be empathetic, not judgmental, always willing to learn, and always try to understand others then we have no business. I would not work for a company that does not allow me to vocalize my opinions, that does not understand the importance of diversity, inclusion, and being an ally to the people. The same goes for my personal relationships and friendships.
There is most definitely a bias attitude towards multiracial people. As someone who admins on a multiracial social media page, we do get negative comments about not being ‘real’ members of a racial group because we have something else mixed with us. There is also a very fetishized attitude towards mixed-race people as well. People like the way we look because we look ‘exotic’ but that’s as far as it goes in many cases. In addition, many social media pages that are supposed to represent mixed people, and what it means to be mixed, only represent people who are Black and White. On our page we advocate for understanding that mixed encompasses more than just that one mix.
I can speak Japanese and I know Japanese sign language because my Obaachan (grandmother) is a deaf mute. Both of my parents can speak Japanese so that was our primary household language for a time. However, my Japanese is not perfect, and it definitely can affect my experience in Japan. As someone who has Japanese citizenship and feels Japanese in my heart, I often get treated like I am not Japanese (a lot of it has to do with the fact that I do not look Japanese) in Japan and it sometimes makes me question my identity over there.
Culturally, I feel like I identify with being Japanese-American the most. We grew up speaking Japanese and visiting Japan very frequently throughout my life. However, there are certain Japanese characteristics that I do not embody because I grew up in America, in a multiracial household. I am very outspoken, loud, energetic, and unafraid to be myself at all times. These traits are not always common to see in Japan.
The question ‘where are you from’, always rubs me the wrong way. In America, there is a ridiculous stereotype that exists where if you aren’t a White person of European decent, then people like to ask, ‘where are you from’, as if you MUST be a foreigner. I personally prefer that people ask, ‘what is your ethnicity?’ instead of asking that question. Whenever people ask, I always say ‘I was born in America,’ then they usually follow with, ‘No but what are you?’ or ‘No, where are your parents from?’ which I then reply with, ‘Do you mean what is my ethnicity?’.
One negative experience I have of being mixed-race is from before I was born. My father did face discrimination from some members of my mother’s side of the family. My mom said one of my uncles had stated that he ‘Didn’t want Jap babies’ in his family and then proceeded to not come to their wedding ceremony and showed up at the end of the reception in jeans. This discrimination has subsided since we have grown up, but I do feel they do not fully accept him still. Throughout my life, seeing both of my parents get different treatment from society, one parent a foreigner and a person of color, and another parent a White American, has shaped me as a person and made me more outspoken against this behavior. A positive experience of being mixed-race has been the empathy and understanding that I have as a person. In addition, being multiracial has made it feel easier to float between different kinds of people and feel like I can be 100% myself! This feeling has helped me find my voice in advocating for the mixed community, and the POC community! Through this, I have made friends with people from various backgrounds and it has allowed me to continue to learn and be more culturally aware of different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.
In today’s society, being mixed is slowly changing. We have voices that are growing louder and helping to unify our community. We are gaining larger platforms and more representation. I look forward to continuing to remain a part of this growing community and lending my voice to the fight for more representation and understanding!
If I could be born again, I wouldn’t change a thing. We experience certain things for a reason and are meant to be on a certain journey. If I had grown up any different, I would not have found my voice and grown to love myself. No regrets, only lessons and love! I would redo one thing though if I absolutely had to choose something. In third grade, my mom gave me rice crackers with seaweed to bring in for my birthday. I was worried the other kids wouldn’t like them or want them, so I never gave them out. My mom found them and asked why I never gave them out and I was afraid to say why. She was able to figure it out and the next day my mom gave my cupcakes to bring in. But, she did sit me down and explained that you can’t assume someone will not like something just because it’s different. She reminded me to be proud of who I am. If I could redo one thing, I would have passed out the rice crackers and explained their origin in Japan. I would have tried not to be afraid.