Where are you from? No, really

Family-Pic-2014Michael Kenji Yamasaki,
Rio Rancho, NM.

OBSERVATIONS – Where are you from? No really … Where are you from?

I can relate to Mr. Marc Quarles (African-American, with a German wife and two biracial children).

There were times when I too have been asked, “Where are you from? No really where are you from?” However, in addition to that, people have also commented how well I spoke English (despite the fact that I have been in the United States over 50 years.), or they would “welcome me to the USA.”

Growing up in Hawaii, race wasn’t really any issue with me. In Hawaii, Asian is the dominant population. (By the way, I notice that for the most part, Asians and Pacific Islanders are lump together as if we are one giant homogenous group. A lot of “mainlanders” don’t seem to get the idea that Hawaiians, Samoans, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. have their own unique traditions and culture.)

I recall that when I was getting married to my wife at the time, one of party from the mainland made a comment, “There aren’t too many Americans here.” Referring to the population of Hawaii. I was so shocked and speechless about it. She also commented that a lot of Mexicans were moving into Kentucky. (Her tone of voice signaled that she was not happy about it.) Unbeknownst to her, one of my best friend who was riding with us in the back seat was half-Mexican (but could pass for White). You should have seen the look of his face. Ugggh!

It was when I moved to the mainland (New Mexico), I became aware of my “minority” status. Asians are few and far between in the area that I live. It felt odd to be a “minority” coming from Hawaii. Most of the comments directed at me were out of ignorance rather than racism. False assumptions based on generalized idea of an Asian person.

I remember once where my wife told me while she was at the mall with our baby “hapa” (biracial) girl, a woman thought how adorable our daughter looked. She inquired where did my wife get the little girl. (Oh, did I forget? My wife is White from Kentucky.)

My wife almost told her, “At Walmart, on sale now. Down on aisle 15.” People assume that when a White woman has an Asian looking child; the Asian child is adopted. Sheesh, give me a break.


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