Hi, I’m Harusami (nee Linda Reiko Pickrell). My Mother was Japanese and my Father was Scottish, Welsh, Irish (actually, he disowned the Irish when they killed Lord Mountbatten), with some Powhatan Indian.
I’m an older Hapa, born in 1960. Growing up, there were not a lot of us around, and very few Asian role models.
I’m so happy to see this Hapa “tribe” grow and become empowered with their uniqueness. Growing up, people couldn’t guess that I was half-Japanese, they would assume I was white, or if I was tanned, they would mistake me for Mexican or Native American.
Once the other kids found out I was half-Japanese, I would be teased and called names. I remember once coming home from school and asking my Dad what a “slope head” was. I remember how angry he got when I told him some kid called me one… I was really concerned there was something wrong with my head! Kids would tease me about eating raw fish… there were no sushi bars back then, so I feel quite empowered now, knowing that these same kids probably grew up to pay big bucks for raw fish.
Growing up in a predominantly black neighborhood and being bussed to a predominately white school, I saw bigotry of all kinds. Anyone who believes the 60’s were “the good old days” never walked in my shoes.
I was often beaten up for being different, I wasn’t black nor white, and there were very few fellow Asians. I even had a teacher tell me I was going to go to hell when she found out I was a Buddhist. Another teacher, upon hearing that I was half-Japanese and part Irish and Native American said, “That means you’re probably subservient and can’t hold your liquor.” Hah! I’d kick his a$$ and drink him under the table now.
Driving through the old neighborhood a few years ago… I was overjoyed to see children of all flavors playing together, white, black, brown, yellow, red, green… this was the hope and change I wanted to see.
I’m proud of my heritage and culture. My upbringing gave me a unique look at racism and intolerance that has made me an outspoken advocate for peace, compassion and unity.
I like that movie, too. The Joy Luck Club fits us a bit better though.
The way I remember that saying is :
My country right or wrong.
If right, I will fight to keep it right.
If wrong, I will fight to right it.
But I know most folks ignore that. To me, the short version, is backwards thinking. Many pray that God is on our side in wars. More backwards thinking. It took cousin Abe Lincoln to realize that we should be praying that we “are on God’s side.”
Depending on exactly how the question about my kids has been asked, I’ve used various answers. “New Jersey” or “they’re mine” or “11th generation Americans” have been common answers. ( I think it actually now turns out to be 14th or 15th generation. ) But it has often been fun to just glare at them like I have no idea what they are talking about. Their clarifications are usually amusing.
I think my kids have generally handled their mixed race background fairly well with only a few minor incidents. I think the “that’s not mixed” case was my favorite. These incidents often lead to some fun discussions at home.
I have younger nieces & nephews of two different combinations of races. I hope that they will have even more acceptance. But they should also understand that it wasn’t always so. Films like Sayonara can help with that.
Thank you White Eagle! Blessings to you!
Hal, the movie Sayonara really resonated with me for the fact that my parents told me how my father’s commanders made it very difficult for them to marry. Marrying my mother, he lost out on a major promotion and a chance at a military academy. He was a cryptologist in the Navy, served in Viet Nam, and ended his Air Force career at the Pentagon in a high security clearance position. He taught me to always question our government, and that if I loved my country, I should question it and fight against those that would twist the words and ideals of our constitution. He really hated the “America, Love it or Leave it” bumper stickers in the 70’s. My father had a great love of history, whether it be Japanese, Greek, Roman, Celtic, American, African or Native American.
He was also one of the first business owners in Colorado to acknowledge and make MLK Day a paid holiday for his workers.
Hal, when people ask where your kids are from… I’d suggest you answer, from their mom and me. :)
It is wonderful to meet you through words that register in heart! Thank you for sharing with our world with pride who you are and the legacy you provide for all you encounter on your journey through life! Peace, love, light and blessings! “White Eagle”
My Chinese girlfriend ( now wife ) and I were in college together in the mid-’70s. There were a few of what are now called “Hapa” that we knew. From them we learned that our own children wouldn’t be complete outcasts. We know our 4 kids would have had it much harder if they’d been born between 1950 & 1962 rather than 1984 & 1996. Even in the mid-’70s there was a lot more acceptance that we were, at first, expected, at least in some places. Back then, I can tell you that this 6 ft. tall white guy didn’t feel real comfortable walking down a street in NY’s Chinatown with my wife holding my hand. But, in many places, people took little notice of us.
On the other hand, even in this century, people have asked me “where are your kids from ?”
Can we hear more of the stories from a generation back ? I know that they are out there.