Who is your daughter’s father?

10132013-Hakone_753-2Itoko Richardson,
Daly City, CA.

I am Japanese and my husband is Black (he extremely dislikes to be called African-American). Our experience alone was interesting and filled with many racist, stereotype encounters and reactions. But my experience with my daughter is interesting. When I and my daughter are out, I can feel strangers’ wonder of who & what she is. My daughter is beautiful and I get that compliments time to time. But such a simple compliment is to ask real question for many people, “She is so pretty. What is she?”, “Is this your daughter? She is beautiful. What she is mixed with?”. So interestingly, it does not happen as often as to my husband & daughter when they are out. He said it is because he is Black. He means that people who ask our daughter’s source of race wants to know if she is mixed with Black. So I answered that I am married to an American. Sure enough, I was asked what kind of American I am married to.

Our experience in Japan is totally different. In the homogeneous society, every Japanese knows she is mixed when he/she sees her. So being mixed with Black or White isn’t something for them to concern about. It seems to me that people of Japan wanted to see if I embedded Japanese (Soul of Japanese) in her because Japanese blood runs in my daughter. They showed somewhat happiness when she ate natto (fermented soy bean), spoke Japanese, sang Japanese songs, used chop-sticks, believes in Buddhism, or celebrated our traditions. So I am working hard to engage in Japanese cultural traditions more than I ever cared to do. Partly I do not want to be looked as failed Japanese. But mostly, I want her to have more cards on her hand, cards of being Japanese.


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