Japanese | African-American

Photo credit: @cfkmedia

Photo credit: @cfkmedia

I am Japanese and African-American, I grew up as a Christian and I went to a Baptist church growing up. As I became older and grew as my own person I don’t consider labeling myself into one religion or labeling myself to one. I believe in the higher power and that Is God. I believe in him NO label. My Mother is from Machida, Japan and my Father is from Mobile, Alabama. They met in Japan while my dad was in the services (Navy) they actually met on a double date.

I realised I was mixed-race when I was about 5 years old. I was aware of my ethnicity and my uniqueness by then I would be going to school with other kids in Japan and I knew my skin was darker the most kids in my class. My father being African American I had no shame and I love every part of it. I was Born and raised in Japan but grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. Growing up I was always around different ethnicities and heritage, so a lot of my friends was always different. It was beautiful and that’s all I really knew growing up because my Father being in the military I was always around kids who was from different countries. When I turned 12 years old that’s when I noticed that I was being treated differently than the kids in my class or from my peers. I struggled more as I grew older because of my mother being full Japanese and that fact that I wasn’t born in America I always got teased. I wouldn’t say it affected me, but it did make it hard for me to really understand ‘Why?’. My parents always taught me to love myself and where I come from and to never be ashamed of my heritage. So every part of my heritage whether it’s my home town Japan or my 2nd home of the Southern Soul it made me who I am today, and I am grateful.

My father grew up in Mobile Alabama and was raised in a Christian household by my grandmother. My mother in the other hand was not really raised in terms of ‘labeling’ one specific religion but mother parents (Papasan & Pipi) did put my mother in a Christian school growing up. My father and Mother showed each other the difference in how they grew up; religion, family tradition, sexual orientation. They were both open about it and never hide anything from one another that gave them acceptance and love within one another. They both love one another differences in family tradition especially from growing up in the South to learning Japanese traditions and vise versa for my mother.

I had many challenges growing up as a ‘mixed’ child but mixed or not who didn’t, right? When I finally moved to America and went to school in United States I struggled with just the subject of what they were teaching. In Japan school is very different the courses we took was important but learning manners, dress code, we don’t have Janitors cleaning up after us in school we learned that ourselves that was a priority. To clean up after ourselves; mopping the floors after class, clapping erasers from the chalkboard, serving food to one another, cleaning our deal & bathroom toilets. They taught us to be independent and not to rely on another person to clean our mess. Our school lunch in Japan to America was very different for me I would always ask my Mom to prepare a lunch box for me growing up until I got teased on what I use to eat at lunch time that’s when I became a bit ashamed. I noticed kids would tease me for eating ‘weird’ food which to me was homemade Japanese food prepare nicely from my Mother. Everyday when I would go to school in elementary or middle school I was ashamed of being half Japanese, I would get made fun of for my eyes being shaped like a cat-eye or my hair being too curly. Eventually I started hating my own natural hair because of the teasing that went on, but I learned to overcome those and understood that I am beautiful in and out and regardless if I am from America or not I want other kids to know that they are loved and never hate yourself for who you are and where you are from.

I wouldn’t particularly say my environment because I moved around a lot. But I had a very hard time understanding what friendship was, I didn’t have long term friendship growing as if a normal kid would, so I never understood the whole term of being ‘best friend forever’. I always felt that once I met someone I never seen them again or my parents would keep in contact their parents so that’s how usually a lot of my friendship was built. Most of my friends are military brats so we understood that we might or never see each other again. When I moved to America it was different for me because I was surrounded by kids whose parents, grandparents, or even siblings went to school with one another, so they were already in the foundation of keeping the circle tight or being familiar with the friendship. I always felt like an outcast growing up especially when it came to making friends because I never really knew how too.

My culture of having Japanese traditions and my Southern Soul has influenced me in many ways. The choice of food, fashion and my hair! My mother always braided my hair and was put into wear beads growing up or left curly. When I finally spent time with my Aunt down south I learned about straightening my hair with a flat iron and relaxers. I am not a picky eater because I was surrounded by many different types of food growing up, from eating Raw Sushi to eating fish fry & gumbo from down south. I love every types of food when it comes to different cultures. I learn so much by just being so open into other ethnicities and allowing myself to accept and love the difference within other food from different countries. My fashion I can say I developed a lot of that from Japan growing up, Tokyo always has the most updated, exclusive sense of style. My Mother taught me that at a young age, she would always had me in the most stylish outfits and kept me updated on the new fashion trend. Tokyo is a fashion world! Everything you see there the way they were certain pieces to nix&matches, to high platform sneakers I was into it all. When I finally went to school in America I was considered weird for what I was wearing, or I did my dress ‘normal’. Japan was always ahead of the trend so a year later the trend that was already. In my hometown it developed in the following year in America. So, I can say Thank you to my mommy for always putting me on game before hand lol. I always listened to Japanese music as a child when I was about 9-10 years old with my father being African American I started to branch out to listening to Hip-Hop and R&B; Al Green, Tupac, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson etc.

Everything was a positive experience I would say, no matter if I went through a hard time finding myself or learning my uniqueness from the outside in it made me stronger at the end of the day. I learned to be open and accepting to one another, no matter if the person from the left or right of me looks different, not from America, or even a different religion I grew up not judging another and to accept them for them and learn from them. There’s so many different types of people out in this world it would suck to just being a hole and not knowing how to accepted the diversity in OUR world, OUR universe, OUR people. Because we are all God’s children and no matter where, who, what you are or came from I want everyone to feel and know that they are loved and that they should never feel like they don’t belong.

I would not want to return given the opportunity. God created each one of us perfectly no matter what our flaws are or what you think your flaws are. I have a purpose and you do too. It’s all about finding your purpose and your path in this life no matter what. We all have hard times and trials and tribulations but if you keep what is important in your heart and you stay true to that I promise that you will blossom into a beautiful flower.