Recently, I returned to my father’s homeland of Japan, after twelve years. Growing up mixed, in the United States, and in a house that tried to hold more than one culture, I had an experience neither of my parents could relate to. Wherever we were in the world, whether in the US or Japan, people would ask, “what are you?” In the states I was considered “other” and in Japan I was considered “gaijin” (foreigner). Returning to Japan as an adult who is curious and conscious about race relations, I finally understood that I would never belong in either place. My genetic makeup is sourced from five different countries and I realized that my body was my only home.
Mixed kids like me who have one Euro American parent, one not, walk the line between the worlds of whiteness and other. I ended up on the side of “other” while my sister, who is 100% white passing, landed on the side of whiteness, which shaped our experiences very differently. The more time passes, the more children who are mixed are being born. I’m hoping to delve into sharing the experiences of mixed kids, cause it’s time we had our voices heard. So here’s a little love letter to start it off.
To all of the mixed babies out there:
I see you and I love you.
I understand how it feels to inhabit a body that is your own,
But belong to cultures that will not claim you.
In both homes we are other.
I too look just like my parent.
I too look nothing like my parent.
I have been deemed “other” from the body that created, grew, and sustained me.
Us mixed kids, we straddle multiple worlds.
Our experience is our own, one even our parents cannot understand.
We are filled with languages, foods, and traditions neither side can fully understand.
But we are here. We do exist. And our experience does matter.
Let us share our stories and find a place between lands, time, and space
Where we can live fully in the experience that unites us.
Our otherness becomes our norm, our unifying commonality.
I hold you as you unpack your experiences, unique as you.
Experiences that are not black and white.
But everywhere, every color, and everything in between.
*if you are mixed and interested in participating in a research based interview about your experiences, please leave a comment below with your name, contact, and a little bit about yourself.