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When I was in kindergarten, some kids sang the “Chinese-Japanese Dirty Knees” song to me. It made my mom sad when I came home and asked her what it meant. That’s when I first felt like an outsider.

It’s been a long road from there to embracing my Hapa heritage.

Some of my ancestors rode to the New World in a ship called the Ark and the Dove; others were samurai knights and Buddhist priests.

I grew up going to Catholic Mass with a red-haired, freckled grandmother; saying “Baruch Atah Adonai” and lighting the Hanukkah candles with my step-grandmother, and sitting zazen with my sansei jichan (grandfather).

Being a unique mixture of cultures and traditions can be lonely. Sometimes I feel like a chameleon, like I am a card-carrying member of the “people of color” club, but often, I feel culturally white, cut off from what it really means to be Asian.

Regardless, I’m different, but not an outsider. Each one of us, mixed-race or not, is unique. Our race is the human one.

5 thoughts on “Japanese, Irish, Filipina, American

  1. Be proud of yourself and your heritage! Others should be so lucky to look as lovely as you do. That’s a great tattoo, by the way!

  2. The beginning was sad, what does “Chinese-Japanese Dirty Knees” Mean? It’s great now that you are embracing yourself (:

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