I grew up in the fifties and sixties. We moved to Japan when I was 2. We moved to Montgomery, AL when I was six and I attended Capitol Heights Elementary School. These were intense times with the National Guard escorting us to class and the school. We experienced discrimination and hatred from all sides. My father forbid us to speak Japanese because he was afraid we would be killed. We were always called “other”. I was very shy, however, when asked (often) to choose one race on the selections for myriad reasons I was one of those who always drew my own box and wrote beside it 50% Japanese and 50% Caucasian American. I was sent to the principals office several times because I refused to pick one box and make my own. One day a teacher said I couldn’t be sure that I was 50% and had to pick. I said if I believed I was 51% of something I would choose that but could not pick one because I was 2 ethnicity’s. Like some of the posts, we experienced a lot of physical, mental and emotional abuse from the world we lived in.
The most common first question people ask me (even to this day which is interesting because we live in such diverse times) is “What is your ethnicity?”. The second thing that happens is the person who asks proceeds to tell me I do not look Japanese (like they are the definitive expert) and give evidence to prove to me that I am not Japanese. I recall never in my life any attempt to provide evidence to anyone that they are anything other than what they say they are. It’s kind of like telling a woman, you aren’t a woman, you are something else…. I am a woman. I am first generation Japanese American. I am half Japanese and half American Caucasian (European mix, ah there’s that word again, mix of English and French). I am equally proud of both.