Balancing a Japanese and Irish Heritage

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-05-23 20:07Z by Steven

Balancing a Japanese and Irish Heritage

Psychology Today
2015-05-22

Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu Ed.D.

Learning to live with complexity and ambiguity

When I was growing up I thought I was American until someone would remind me I wasn’t. With kids it was a simple, “Jap” or “Chink” but with Mom it was more complicated. She would usually tell me I was American but sometimes would suddenly use funny expressions like ishin denshin, which she said means “to communicate the heart by means of the heart.” It implies that words are not necessary and Mom claimed that a Japanese child (me) should know ishin denshin. She would say this when I failed to understand something she had not said. My mother’s frustration was even greater with my American father.

A typical day in our home:

We’re sitting around the table at breakfast and Mom says, “The windows are dirty.”

Dad glances up from his newspaper and coffee and says, “Yeah.”

The kids go to school, mom goes to work and dad stays home.

At dinner that night mom is in a bad mood, banging the pots and pans as she cooks dinner for three hungry kids. Finally dad asks, “What’s wrong?”…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Miss Japan fights for race revolution’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2015-05-15 15:31Z by Steven

Black Miss Japan fights for race revolution’

Agence France Presse (via Yahoo)
2015-05-12

Alastair Himmer, Sport and Lifestyle Correspondent


Ariana Miyamoto

Tokyo (AFP) – Ariana Miyamoto entered the Miss Universe Japan beauty contest after a mixed-race friend committed suicide. And she endured abuse after winning the crown because of her skin colour.

Far from being put off by the backlash, Miyamoto resolved to use her new-found fame to help fight racial prejudice — in much the same way British supermodel Naomi Campbell broke down cultural barriers in the fashion industry a generation ago.

“I’m stubborn,” said Miyamoto, the daughter of a Japanese mother and black American father, who turned 21 on Tuesday.

“I was prepared for the criticism. I’d be lying to say it didn’t hurt at all. I’m Japanese — I stand up and bow when I answer the phone. But that criticism did give me extra motivation,” she told AFP in an interview.

“I didn’t feel any added pressure because the reason I took part in the pageant was my friend’s death. My goal was to raise awareness of racial discrimination,” added Miyamoto, who was bullied as a schoolgirl growing up in the port town of Sasebo, near Nagasaki.

“Now I have a great platform to deliver that message as the first black Miss Universe Japan. It’s always hard to be the first, so in that respect what Naomi Campbell did was really amazing.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Hafu Nation: Five Voices

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-05-07 20:13Z by Steven

The Hafu Nation: Five Voices

Tokyo Weekender: Japan’s Premier English Magazine
2015-05-03

Kyle Mullin


Velina Hasu Houston (Photo by Ken Matsui)

Four members of the “Hafu Nation” share their experiences of living life from (at least) two perspectives.

Ariana Miyamoto has proven that beauty is not merely skin deep. Although some of her detractors criticized her for not being ethnically pure enough to represent Japan in this year’s Miss Universe pageant, many more supporters see her selection as an opportunity to address what role that mixed race individuals will play in the future of Japan. One work that has brought this question to movie audiences around the world is the documentary “Hafu” (the most common word used to describe Japanese people of mixed race). We reached out to one of the directors of the film, Megumi Nishikura, who put us in touch with several members of the local and international hafu community, who shared their views about Miyamoto’s selection, as well as their own experiences of multiethnicity inside and outside of Japan…

Velina Hasu Houston: A playwright and professor at USC who holds an MFA and PhD, and has explored the U.S.-Japan relationship through drama, fiction, essays, and film, among other forms.

“If Ms. Miyamoto were part white instead of part African American, there might be less brouhaha and discourse about her being named to represent Japan in the Miss Universe pageant. For example, recently Ms. Saira Kunikida, who is Japanese and Italian, was selected by Isetan to represent and be “the perfect symbol” (in the words of Fashion Headline Japan) of its “This is Japan” motto.

“Because Japan thinks of itself as a racially homogeneous and racially pure society, anybody that does not appear to be conventionally Japanese faces myriad issues of prejudgment and, at the very worse, discrimination in Japanese society. Sometimes this is positive in that Japanese citizens may be curious about someone who looks different, especially if that person appears to have some Asian traits. […] But more often than not being hafu in Japanese society can be trying. Japanese citizens stare at hafu constantly—on trains, walking down the street, in stores, and so on. It gets tiring always feeling as though you are being watched. You also may be racially profiled. If Japanese citizens perceive you to be of a certain race or national origin, they may behave differently toward you, thinking that you may act in a way that is to their detriment. These types of encounters are frustrating for hafu because our blood is Japanese as much as it is whatever else we are…

Read the entire artricle here.

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UCLA researchers say Japanese-Americans’ healthier golden years could be a model for other seniors

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-05-05 17:42Z by Steven

UCLA researchers say Japanese-Americans’ healthier golden years could be a model for other seniors

UCLA Newsroom
University of California, Los Angeles
2015-04-29

Venetia Lai

Nearly 1 in 4 Japanese-Americans are 65 and older — nearly twice the proportion of seniors in the overall U.S. population. The facts that they are likelier to live longer than other Americans and are healthier when they age make Japanese-Americans an important subject of research by health policy experts — and could provide clues about how all Americans can age, according to a new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Using California Health Interview Survey data from 2003 to 2012, the study found that elderly Japanese-Americans had lower risks for nine of 15 health indicators than other Asian and other racial and ethnic groups in California. Older Japanese-Americans, however, did have higher rates of arthritis and hypertension than seniors in other racial and ethnic groups.

“Japanese-Americans provide a window into our future,” said Ying-Ying Meng, lead author of the study and co-director of the center’s Chronic Disease Program. “They show us one vision of how our nation can age and can help us prepare for the enormous generational shift ahead.”

The report, which was funded by Keiro Senior HealthCare, examines three categories of Japanese in California: Those who identify as being “only” Japanese — typically with parents who both were Japanese; those who identify as being mixed-race; and those who identified as being Japanese in some way…

Read the entire article here.

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Three Unmissable Books That Can Help Us Honor Our Past

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-05-05 14:58Z by Steven

Three Unmissable Books That Can Help Us Honor Our Past

Pacific Citizen: The National Newspaper of the JACL
2015-04-30

Ryan Kenji Kuramitsu, JACL MDC Youth Representative

‘It was books,” wrote social critic James Baldwin, “that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”

As Japanese Americans, our history and experiences offer far greater lessons than simple condemnations of the racism, war hysteria and failure of political leadership that led to our mass incarceration. Rather than trapping us in ancient history, our community’s unique moral perspective can advantage us to speak into a number of modern social struggles, connecting us with all people who are alive.

In this vein, here are three unmissable books that can help us honor our past as we continue to draw fresh connections to present challenges…

…3.  “Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World” — In her debut work, sociologist and critical mixed-race theorist Sharon H. Chang brings years of research and writing experience to the project of aiding multiracial Asian American families navigate critical conversations on multiracial identity. Chang’s holistic and intersectional work delves into intensive interviews with 68 parents of mixed-race children, providing readers with invaluable insight and practical observations on the labor of raising multiracial Asian children in a “post-racial” society forever fixated on a black-white racial binary…

Read the entire retive here.

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TCK TALENT: Neil Aitken, Computer Gaming Whiz Kid Turned Award-Winning Poet

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive on 2015-05-01 19:56Z by Steven

TCK TALENT: Neil Aitken, Computer Gaming Whiz Kid Turned Award-Winning Poet

The Displaced Nation
2015-04-29

Elizabeth (Lisa) Liang


Neil Aitken (photo supplied)

Elizabeth (Lisa) Liang is back with her column featuring interviews with Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs) who work in creative fields. Lisa herself is a prime example. A Guatemalan-American of Chinese-Spanish-Irish-French-German-English descent, she has developed her own one-woman show about growing up as a TCK, called Alien Citizen, which premiered nearly two years ago and is still going strong. In fact, she will soon be taking the production to Valencia, Spain, and Capetown, South Africa!

—ML Awanohara

Welcome back, readers! Today’s interviewee is poet Neil Aitken: winner of the prestigious Philip Levine Prize for Poetry for his book of poems, The Lost Country of Sight and founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review. Neil and I met at the Mixed Roots Literary & Film Festival in 2009. I am so pleased to have the chance to interview him this month for TCK Talent.

* * *

Welcome to The Displaced Nation, Neil. I understand that you’re a multi-ethnic ATCK like me! Please tell us about your heritage.

My father was born in the Okanogan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, of Scottish and English descent. My mother was born on Hainan Island, south of China, in the midst of the conflict between the Nationalists and the Communists in China. Shortly after her birth, her parents—her father was a high-ranking officer in the Nationalist Army and her mother, the daughter of one of the elite island families—fled to Taiwan to escape the Communists. Despite growing up a world apart, my parents met in the middle, Hawaii, while both attending university there.

Where were you born, and where did you live growing up?

I was born in Vancouver. My father’s bachelor’s degree was in Linguistics & ESL. His first job took us to Dhuhran, Saudi Arabia, where he taught English in the oil universities. But then my mother developed severe asthma due to the extreme heat and dust, and the doctors warned her that if she stayed any longer, she would be putting her life in peril. So she took my younger sister and me (I was four, my sister two-and-half) to Taiwan to live with relatives while my father completed the last nine months of his teaching contract. While in Taiwan, my sister and I forgot all our English, switched completely to Mandarin Chinese, and attended a Chinese-speaking pre-school. When my father finally arrived to pick us up, apparently we were so frustrated in our inability to communicate with him, we refused to speak Chinese until we relearned English. By the time we returned to Canada, we’d made the switch—but lost our Chinese in the process. My father returned to school in Vancouver, concluding that it was too hard to raise a family as an ESL professor. He completed a Masters in Library Science degree at the University of British Columbia and, when I was eight, we moved to North Battleford, Saskatchewan, a small city surrounded by farmland in the northern part of the province. Later we moved to Regina, the province’s capital and a much more vibrant multicultural center, where my father took his dream job as the supervisor over a special book collection focused on local, regional, and family histories of the Central Plains and Prairie Provinces. I completed elementary school and high school there…

Read the entire interview here.

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Ticking the box: Finding a place for mixed race

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-04-27 21:44Z by Steven

Ticking the box: Finding a place for mixed race

The Cambridge Student
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
2015-04-25

Chase Caldwell Smith

In my life, I have been told many things – that I “look like a bit of a foreigner” or that “I couldn’t tell you were part-Asian before – I can definitely see it now.” I’ve been informed, jokingly, that I’m basically “the blackest person” in the room, or told, imaginatively, that “all Asians look alike” anyway. Or my personal favourite, that because my mother is Asian and my father white, that I “live in one of those kinds of families.”

There’s much talk about race in Cambridge, with the establishment of FLY two years ago igniting a much-needed debate on how we should discuss racial discrimination in a university as multicultural as our own. I know for a fact that other students have been forced to confront much more discrimination than the little I have faced. But I still can’t help feeling that sometimes, much of the debate over race seems to pitch a cut-and-dry privileged majority, usually white, against a generalized group of underprivileged minorities, usually non-white. The issues dividing these groups are painfully real: I am not in any way refuting this.

However, I am concerned that this debate between a clearly delineated majority and minority has the unintended consequence of leaving out the voices of the students in-between – people like me who are neither all-white nor all-Asian, for example. It is sometimes difficult to take part because we don’t fit into the existing scheme of privilege and oppression: we are constantly uncertain of which ‘category’ we fit into, and perhaps, should fit into…

Read the entire article here.

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Being Maori-Chinese: Mixed Identities

Posted in Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Oceania on 2015-04-24 20:23Z by Steven

Being Maori-Chinese: Mixed Identities

Auckland University Press
January 2008
238 pages
Illustrations
210 x 148 mm
Paperback ISBN: 9781869403997

Manying Ip, Professor of Asian Studies
University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Being Maori-Chinese uses extensive interviews with seven different families to explore historical and contemporary relations between Māori and Chinese, a subject which has never been given serious study before. A full chapter is given to each family which is explored in depth often in the voices of the protagonists themselves.

This detailed and personal approach shows how in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Māori and Chinese, both relegated to the fringes of society, often had warm and congenial bonds, with intermarriage and large Māori-Chinese families. However in recent times the relationship between these two rapidly growing groups has shown tension as Māori have gained confidence in their identity and as increased Asian immigration has become a political issue. Being Maori-Chinese provides a unique and fascinating insight into cross-cultural alliances between Asian and indigenous peoples, revealing a resilience which has endured persecution, ridicule and neglect and offering a picture of New Zealand society which challenges the usual Pākehā-dominated perspective.

Today’s Māori-Chinese, especially younger members, are increasingly reaffirming their multiple roots and, with a growing confidence in the cultural advantages they possess, are playing important roles in New Zealand society.

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Laura Kina

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive on 2015-04-22 20:22Z by Steven

Laura Kina

Fused Society
2015-04-16

Laura Kina, Vincent de Paul professor of Art, Media, & Design
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

Meet today’s Fused Society contributor, the accomplished Laura Kina!

“Laura Kina is a multiracial Asian American artist based in Chicago who identifies as “hapa, yonsei, and Unchinanchu” (mixed race, 4th generation Japanese American, and part of the Okinawan diaspora). Her father is Okinawan from Hawaiʻi and her mother is Anglo American (Spanish/Basque and French, English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch) from the Pacific Northwest. Kina’s artwork, scholarly research and activism center on themes of distance and belonging. She focuses on the fluidity of cultural difference and the slipperiness of identity. Asian American history and mixed race representations are subjects that run through her work.

Kina is a Vincent de Paul professor of Art, Media, & Design at DePaul University. She is the coeditor, along with Wei Ming Dariotis, of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013); cofounder of the DePaul biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies conference; and cofounder and consulting editor of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies and reviews editor for the Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

Read the entire article here.

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Having Mixed-Race Kids Doesn’t Make You Non-White

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-22 19:40Z by Steven

Having Mixed-Race Kids Doesn’t Make You Non-White

Mom.Me
2015-04-20

Grace Hwang Lynch, Blogger
Hapa Mama


Adel Vardell photography

Do white parents become “less white” when they have non-white kids? That question is burning up my Facebook feed right now, thanks to an essay in the New York Times last week.

In the piece published in Motherlode, Jack Cheng (a Chinese American man married to a white woman) writes of his wife:

“She became less white when our son, and then our daughter, were born. I think the first bit of doubt surfaced the day we were on the subway with our newborn and a woman came up to my wife and said: ‘Oh, he’s so cute! When did you adopt him?’ I was livid: Did it not occur to this woman that the father was sitting right next to his wife and child?”

But that is not becoming less white…

…While I might be able to code switch and move in different circles and enjoy a variety of cultures, that doesn’t change the fact that my skin is golden, my nose is wide and sometimes people assume I’m a Tiger Mother. Or the manicurist. Or that I should be taking their General’s Chicken order…

Read the entire article here.

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