They only see the Asian half.

395550_3132095985449_808346539_nKatelyn Tsukada
Northampton, MA

My mother is of Irish and Italian heritage; my father of Japanese descent. Both of my parents were born in the United States as were their parents before them. Both consider themselves to be American as documented by their passports, drivers licenses and birth certificates. My mother and father speak English has their first and only language. And the American child they created and raised together? Well she constantly gets asked where she is “really” from because New York State is never the correct answer.

I learned to identify myself as Asian-American because that is how others categorized me. My classmates assumed Asian was the reason I got good grades. Asian was the reason I liked seafood and tanned like an islander. And Asian was the reason my grandmother was made to live in an internment camp directly following the attack on Pearl Harbor. My history. Asian history. The rich Irish-Italian culture of my mother’s family never stood a chance.

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3 Responses to "They only see the Asian half."
  1. LR says:

    It’s because the father is Asian. Children with a White mother and Asian father are still Asian rather than those with White fathers and Asian mothers.

  2. barry irving says:

    …Your mothers history is not apparent in your look. so it’s your job to educate people id you choose…you create the balance that others do not see. I went to Syracuse University. There are lots of Asians there who look like you and many who are very white skinned, like no possibility of a tan. You can tell that they have a good deal of European blood, but until they speak, you never know if they American or Asian born.

  3. Taylor Pederson says:

    My daughter is half korean and while she’s only 2 years old I’ve always worried about her dealing with this. My family has a very rich history that I want to pass to her, but I worried I wouldn’t be able to because people would only see her asian half. I feared that my “boring white culture” couldn’t compete with my husbands Korean culture (even though he’s adopted and grew up just a few miles north of me). I worried that people constantly asking her “what she is” would make her answer Korean and never Swedish or German. I worried that my family heritage would be lost.

    Then I realized that those people don’t matter and their questions don’t matter. As long as my daughter feels connected to all of the ancestors who brought us here then she’ll be ok. She will learn all about how my great grandmother raised 3 girls alone during the great depression. She’ll be proud of my great great grandparents who came over from Sweden at just 14 and 15 years old with only each other. She’ll learn about my husbands birth parents in Korea and her uncle who was raised there instead of being placed for adoption. She’ll know all about the Norwegian family that adopted and raised her father. She will see all of her sides when she looks in the mirror, and that’s all that matters.

    That’s all that matters for you too.

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