Share Your Hapa Story: William Roman
Share Your Hapa Story 039: William Roman
About me: I've always been familiar with the word hapa. My mom's side of the family frequently uses it since most of my cousins and I are mixed. My mom is Japanese & Okinawan and my dad is mainly Native American & Mexican. Like a lot of kids I grew up trying to find somewhere to fit in, somewhere to belong. I remember a few times when I was told that because I was half Japanese, I wasn't a "real Japanese person."
I always thought it was absurd to be put down for such a thing, especially in North America, a country known as a melting pot. I went through a phase in middle school where I tried to be more Mexican and I went through a phase in high school where I tried to be more Asian.
It wasn't until after high school that I started thinking of myself less in terms of race and more in terms of an individual. I stopped thinking that because I was a certain race or combination of races, I had to dress, talk, and act a certain way to be authentic. I am very proud of my ethnic background, but I do my best to be myself, not what is expected.
About my mom's family: My grandma was born in northern California. Her father emigrated from Fukui Prefecture to the U.S. in 1913. My Grandpa emigrated from Okinawa to Peru in 1925 then immigrated from Peru to the U.S. sometime in the 1930's. Because of Executive Order 9066, my family lived in the Granada War Relocation Center aka "Camp Amache," in Granada, Colorado during World War II. During the 1950's my family settled in San Jose, California where most of them have lived ever since. My grandma gave birth to 14 children, most of them had kids, most of those kids had kids, etc, and now our family is bigger than ever. A lot of my cousins are a combination of Japanese with Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, and other mixes.
I sometimes think about the struggles my family went through and it fills me with both a sense of being humbled and hopeful, knowing what they overcame and believing that I too have what it takes to overcome my own obstacles. I am a very proud member of the Nakamoto family. Not all families are so big yet so close and I know that I am part of one that's very special.
Originally published January 30, 2020 on Instagram, #ShareYourHapaStory039