Japanese | Jamaican

Photo credit: provided by subject

Photo credit: provided by subject

I identify as Jamaican (Black) and Japanese, mixed, and straight. My Mom is Japanese. She was born and raised in San Francisco, California. My Dad is Jamaican and was born and raised in Mandeville, Jamaica. My Dad came to the United States to attend college. After college, he moved to San Francisco where he met my Mom.

I didn’t know or recognize my ethnicity at a young age. I didn’t even notice that my parents were two different colors. As young as four years old, people would ask me ‘what I was’ or what my ethnicity was but I didn’t know what they were talking about. The youngest age that I can recall knowing that I was Black, though, was 4th or 5th grade when two of my best friends (who are Black) and I were disliked by a little girl’s mom because we were Black, and she was White. That is the earliest memory I have of realizing color and race, my color and race.

Yes, I used to be extremely self-conscious about being different, looking different, having a Japanese middle name, having big, dark, frizzy hair, everything. I grew up in a very predominantly White area and I just wanted to blend in. And even though there were some Black people, I didn’t look like them either, so I felt like I stuck out and I didn’t like it. Now, I LOVE and embrace both of my ethnicities. A lot of people don’t like Kim Kardashian, but I personally love her because even though she isn’t mixed or either of my ethnicities, she was the first celebrity that made me feel like I didn’t look different in a bad way. I didn’t have to be white or black to be considered pretty. I can have a different nose, almond eyes, a different skin tone, and be beautiful.

I feel like my parents are both pretty ‘Americanized’ so although the cultures are very different, there was not much to combine for us. My Dad is religious but my Mom is not but that did not have much of an effect on me or my brother. As a family, we have our own traditions, and nothing has really overlapped in a way where we have to choose one over the other or anything like that. Everything has always just come together perfectly when it comes to the cultures colliding.

Yes. Being biracial in a White community was tough growing up because I was torn between who I was and wanting to fit in. But the most challenging part as an adult is dealing with ignorant people. To others, I am not Black. I don’t ‘count’ because I’m ‘Jamaican not black’, I don’t count because I’m mixed, I don’t count because I’m ‘not Black enough’. I don’t need other people to validate who I am or claim me, but it does bother me when people try to tell me what and who I am allowed to and not allowed to be.

I don’t think that my environment plays a part in how I choose my friends, but I do think it’s played a part in what type of guys I became interested in from a young age into my adult years. Because I went to predominantly White schools growing up and White guys weren’t interested in me, I only ever dated Black guys. And to this day, if a White guy were to hit on me, I would think it’s some kind of joke. I’m engaged now so that doesn’t matter but it’s still how I view it!

My hair has been a struggle for me my entire life. I wanted straight hair growing up because all the other kids had straight hair and all my cousins on my mom’s side had straight hair (we spent more time with my mom’s side growing up). Mine, on the other hand, was big, curly, and frizzy. Once I was old enough, I straightened it every single day. I still struggle with it to this day.

Because I am mixed, I get to experience two different cultures and I think it makes me interesting. It’s always a topic on conversation when I meet new people.

If I were to be born again, I would want to return the same exact mix that I am now. I love being Jamaican. And I love being Japanese. I used to view it as a disadvantage, but it is one of my advantages in life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!