Hello. My name is Gian-Luca and I’m 25. My mother is Afro-Puerto Rican. My father is from Brazil, and is Japanese, Indigenous Brazilian, and Portuguese. I was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, but moved to Puerto Rico and lived there until I was 13, then I moved to the states. I am currently a college student in Seattle.
When I was younger, a lot of people asked me all kinds of questions regarding my ethnicity. I usually got things such as Sri Lankan, Indian, Maori, or some Carribbean of some sort (although never actually Puerto Rican). People were especially confused when they looked my (incredibly long) name! Like most Latin-American people, I have two last names; one is Portuguese, and the other is a very common Japanese surname. I love and use both exactly as they are.
I grew up speaking English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese. I have family all over, and visited them a lot more than I do now that I’m an adult and have to pay for it all (hahaha). In Brazil, Japanese influences are very strong, so I suppose that I like the fact that grew up very connected to the Japanese community around me. I also spent many summers in Japan, as I have family there, and I plan to go to graduate school in Japan.
I don’t know that I’ve ever had an issue with being multi-cultural, as I’ve sort of grown up in an environment where people being of multiple backgrounds was more the norm than not (especially in Brazil, where LOTS of people are of some Japanese descent. Fun fact: Brazil has the largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan).
I have encountered issues with living in the states though. Everything from people giving me strange looks when they look at my name (wait? Isn’t that Japanese? How did you get a Japanese last name? Where did you learn Spanish, in school?) It’s gotten to a point to where I don’t even bother telling people that I speak Japanese unless necessary. I don’t find that I have that issue when in Brazil, PR, Japan, or parts of the U.S. where that sort of thing just isn’t weird to people.
I love, embrace, and utilize every aspect of my cultural makeup. To me, heritage is less like something that I learned to appreciate, and more like a spider web: intricate, unique, and woven just for me!