Race toward home

Pico Iyer, a writer and world traveler, gives an incredibly powerful 14 minutes TED talk titled “Where is home?” He begins with this simple question and delves quickly into a larger discussion on the global community and individual sense of belonging. If you skip the rest of my blog post, at least watch this:

Iyer’s poignant observation regarding movement and stillness rang true in my life as a traveler, a millennial, and a dancer. But his discussion on home also triggered another part of myself. That as a multiracial child in the 21st century.

Which brings me to the Race Card Project (racecardproject.com), a fascinating platform for people to speak about race. Michele Norris with National Public Radio started this project by inviting people to share any thought or experience regarding race. In six words. Some of the stories have been shared on the radio and online. I decided to create my own. What would your race card say? 

“They only see the Asian half.” -My race card

My mother is of Irish and Italian heritage; my father of Japanese descent. Both of my parents were born in the United States as were their parents before them. Both consider themselves to be American as documented by their passports, drivers licenses and birth certificates. My mother and father speak English has their first and only language. And the American child they created and raised together? Well she constantly gets asked where she is “really” from because New York State is never the correct answer.

I learned to identify myself as Asian-American because that is how others categorized me. My classmates assumed Asian was the reason I got good grades. Asian was the reason I liked seafood and tanned like an islander. And Asian was the reason my grandmother was lived in a Colorado internment camp directly following the attack on Pearl Harbor. My history. Asian history. The rich Irish-Italian culture of my mother’s family never stood a chance.