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.