Grits and Sushi: Mitzi Uehara Carter muses on being black and Okinawan

Grits and Sushi: Mitzi Uehara Carter muses on being black and Okinawan

Metropolis Magazine

Baye Mcneil

Mitzi Uehara Carter

Though Mitzi Uehara Carter was born on the opposite side of the Pacific, she’s kept herself anything but distant from her hereditary home. This Texas-native daughter of an African-American father and an Okinawan mother is currently a PhD candidate in the anthropology department at UC Berkeley, where she has recently completed her doctoral dissertation. She’s spent years doing research, including a year of field work collecting the personal stories of Okinawan families. In 2010, she started the blog Grits and Sushi to chronicle her musings on Okinawa, race, militarization, and blackness.

“I started the blog so I could have a place to think about my anthropological work and my personal life and experiences. It was a good way for me to merge those two worlds,” Uehara Carter explains. “Anthropology studies at Berkeley can be very intense and theoretical, so I wanted my blog to be a place where I could reflect on some of the field work I was doing in Okinawa, and have a landing page where I could also engage with other people dealing with similar questions about their lives, their identities, and about race.”

Grits and Sushi has since grown into a resource, an open journal, and a communal space, attracting readers from around the globe interested in things black and Okinawan, including interracial marriages, mixed-race citizens, and issues surrounding American military bases in Okinawa…

“I created these forums where I brought together black military personnel, Okinawan activists, and residents of Okinawa to have a conversation, a kind of ‘talk-story’,” she says, explaining the Okinawan term, “yuntaku.”…

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