Recently, I been thinking about how I grew up and how being Blasian (Black and Asian for the ones in the back) played a part in my everyday life. My skin complexion registered me as Black, because that was the selected choice on my paperwork for school, making my Asian-ness secondary. So now I’m older, I’m able to look back on certain situations and see how being biracial played a part.
The earliest I remember when I felt I was different was in elementary school. I had weird looking hair that grew every which way. My eyes were slanted and squinty but I could see just fine. My skin complexion was different. I knew all of this. But at a young age, I wasn’t prepared to answer the question “What are you?”. I didn’t know how to answer that question, and usually answered with “A boy.”, and generally get hit with, “no, like are you black, cause you don’t look black”. Not a question I expected to answer on the monkey bars…
My mother is 100% Southside of Seoul and my father is African American. My mother had to get used to his culture, and even though she never really expressed how she handled racism that she endured, I witnessed it. Not only from outsiders, but from those who were called family as well. Now that I’m a parent, I can see how hiding the truths of the world to protect your child can seem like the right thing to do.
Growing up in the 80s and 90s, and even now to be honest, being a product of a interracial relationship, you tend to lean towards one culture or another, rarely, but sometimes, both. You may get bits and pieces of the other, but as you get older, the influences of your surroundings tend to help mold a decent portion of you. For me, I gravitated towards the African American culture: Hip hop and R&B music, the haircuts (I had a straight hair box cut, imagine that), fashion, etc. But even though I liked and loved a lot of things from the culture, in certain places, I wasn’t “black” enough. On the basketball court, I was good enough to play with the “bruhs”, but in the locker room with the same “bruhs”, I was “Mr. Fuji”. Was it laughs and giggles? I guess; but it was something I accepted just to fit in.
Then there were days I was just enough Korean for the stereotypes – “Man, you one of them smart Asians huh” I heard often in math class. Sometimes, I wasn’t enough Asian – “Ol chinky eyed ni****.” (Alexa, play “The Story of OJ” by Jay-Z) At the time, I figured it was something that came with being mixed because me expressing “your statement is offensive” was always met with “You don’t count, you’re mixed”, as if I’m only allowed to feel whatever your perception allows me to feel.
Now as a parent, I have the pressure of the responsibility to teach my daughter both cultures, Korean and African American. And I think teaching her about the cultures will make it easier to explain the difficulties that come with it. There will be times she’ll experience racism, and I hope I prepare her the best way I can to handle it. I may not have all the answers, but hopefully we can answer them together. At her age, her curiosity still runs deep about the world, and as a parent, I have to exhibit the attitude, the behaviors, the values and morals I want to instill in her, simply because to make the world a great place, a more impartial place, people need to develop the will to be anti-racist.