Share Your Hapa Story: Kimiko
Share Your Hapa Story 003: Kimiko @_kayyogacara
Growing up in Silicon Valley in the early 90's, a lot of different cultures were here, yet I seemed to be the only child of mixed cultural backgrounds and my parents were divorced. At my private school, THAT was unheard of! People would see me with my Hapa (Japanese, Irish and German) Mother, and then me, and ask, "What are you?" In turn, I'd reply "I'm a Kimiko."
I knew they meant my ethnicity, but that had nothing to do with who "I" was. I was myself and perfectly a "Kimiko!" As a child it took me a long time to like my name. Teachers would butcher it and call me "Kimono" or just add extra "o's" into my name. It was hard for me physically as well. I had such an unique first name, and then a Spanish last name, yet I looked more Latina than Japanese. Latinos would butcher my name and add an "a" at the end, to make my name "feminine," and Asians would ask me, "Why are you named a Japanese name and you're Mexican?"
I never fit in with either ethnic group in school, so I hung out with all the African-American mixed groups. It wasn't until college that I grew to like, then love my name. Except once again, professors would ask, "Are you married?" Haha. There's no winning I guess. But one thing's certain, I love having heritage with my Japanese first name and Spanish last name, and now I just say, "I'm a Hapa," when people ask my ethnicity, and most people ask a follow up question after that, "Oh, cool.... so what's a Hapa?"
I'd ALSO get picked on for having my hair in pigtails.... the children used to call me "Punky Brewster" for obvious reasons! For Halloween one year, my Mom put me in my grandma's real kimono she brought back with her from Japan, and my Asian classmates thought I was making fun of their culture! Ugh! They never knew I was Japanese until that day!
Originally published July 24, 2017 on Instagram, #ShareYourHapaStory003