Share Your Hapa Story: Terry
Share Your Hapa Story: Terry @the_dunk_junkie
Hey! I'm Terry! I'm African American 🇺🇸 and Japanese 🇯🇵 I'm from a Military Family. My African American Father was from Georgia and met my Mother in Okinawa during his Army Service. I grew up celebrating both cultures in my household, be it learning the Japanese language and culture, and I also felt a strong sense of Americanism and Patriotism due to our Military background.
However, I experienced challenges from my Black and AAPI peers. Much in the form of "Not Being Black Enough" or "Being AAPI enough." There also appeared to be some resentment, such as being asked things like "So Terry, are you more Black or Asian?” or "Who's side are you on?" or "You're either Black or you're not."
I've only managed to free myself of that internalizing in recent times. When you're hurt, you tend to hurt other people. It hurt me when I would read about people who were Black Leaders and were supposed to be my heroes, talk poorly about mixed people, as if we're a burden to the African Diaspora. Malcolm X told me "Integrating coffee with cream weakens the coffee" (as a metaphor for interracial relationships). Garvey (You might know him as the man who made the Red Black and Green Flag popular among those of African Descent) told me "I believe in a Pure Black Race." I used to think "My Black was not good enough," and therefore previously, I would not speak on issues affecting the African American community such as police brutality, systemic racism, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Ultimately, I've learned to embrace and celebrate both of my Heritages. I've also learned to have a bigger voice and advocate for social movements, and what it means to be a Hapa in America. Both of my people experienced oppression at some point in our Nation be it internment camps, slavery, systemic injustice, or police brutality. Yet, I still find it in myself to do things like stand for our Flag/Anthem and say I'm proud to be an American. I've learned to be happy in my own skin, and hope my future endeavors in the realms of higher education and telling my own truths can empower others.
Also published December 23, 2020 on Instagram, #ShareYourHapaStory046