October 17, 2016

There’s No ‘Right Way’ To Be A Biracial Family

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William Stitt
William Stitt

I can experience the amazing culture of my roots in Japan, and I can experience the revitalizing future that America has to offer me, as well.

On the way back home from college, I had talked to my dad about growing up as a minority. I had just finished my first year of college and had taken away so many lessons and realizations that hadn’t occurred to me since I’d left. He asked me how I was feeling after so many racial events had happened on Western’s campus. And I, of course, had to start at the route of where I was feeling.

Growing up with a third-generation Japanese-American mother and a completely Caucasian father had opened a lot of doors to different cultures that I am so thankful for. I was introduced to Japan’s fashion from 50 years ago by my grandmother who had draped me in kimonos, and by my grandfather who had taught me how to make sushi and ramen. I had gathered around my other grandfather, teaching me the songs to The Wizard of Oz and showing me the spot on the beach of California where he and my grandmother have spent most of their time. I was immersed in these two cultures that had been given to me by my parents, and I love both of them. Where my brother and I have been the only ones of color and being able to fit right in when we were little, and where we were laughing in Los Angeles with the ones that had been visiting us from Japan (with a partial language barrier but not caring at all): these are the memories that I love and will always cherish.

Whenever there is a really good thing that comes out of a situation, there is usually something bad that goes hand in hand with it. For me, there were things that kept me up at night and things that have worried me that I might never experience. Some of those include the fact that my mom is American — her parents have lived here, as well — and she is third-generation. It is great that our family has been here for so many decades despite being in concentration camps or oppressed by their own country, America, but if you are in a place like where I am in life, you will come to realize that you will feel like you are missing out on some things.

For instance, I was never brought up to speak another language. That just was not something that was needed in my house because my mom and her parents have been here for so long. You come to learn that even though you consider yourself Japanese, you are not really from Japan, but you are from America, only of Japanese descent. That is a hard realization for me that I have learned this year — that I am going into my second year of college but I don’t know how to speak Japanese, nor have I ever been there, nor can I even cook any Japanese food anymore. But do all biracial families have to be like that? Do we have to be suppressed to be that stereotype of a model minority?

The answer in my opinion is no. From where I am standing in America, it is completely up to me. I can live my life with two doors open that I can walk through anytime of day. I can experience the amazing culture of my roots in Japan, and I can experience the revitalizing future that America has to offer me, as well. Yes, from where I am standing, growing up in a biracial family definitely has its benefits. TC mark

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