Japanese people call mixed race people “half.”
In western culture, we’ll say the half that is pertinent, like “Oh, Broomhilda there is half Japanese, half human…” but I’ve never heard Americans refer a mixed race person as just “half.”
Recently, my Japanese friend used the term “half” and I interrupted with the insight that the current, politically-correct term is “bi-racial.” She looked a little skeptical, wondering if the term “half” was actually derogatory.
I explained, it’s the glass-half-full terminology because really, the person isn’t devoid of half a culture – they encompass it. Like a Long Island Ice Tea. When in doubt, always involve a cocktail metaphorically.
As a Japanese-American, I used to relate with my bi-racial friends in feeling displaced. In a tale of two cultures, with neither side eagerly claiming you, the only group that’s truly family is the same bunch of misfits as yourself. But for my two guys, a majority of their friends are bi-racial, which caused a stranger to do a double take when he took a group photo of us. I could see his gears turning and asking, who are these Asian moms with Black, Hispanic and green-tinted children?
The green ones – that would be mine. It’s what you get when you mix olive with yellow.
Anyway, my boys just recently tapped into their Japanese lineage after meeting my cousin from Japan. Up until then, Samu thought himself as “white” and I thought I’d need to pull a Dave Chapelle “Racial Draft” to clean his rose colored glasses. Inadvertently, my cousin stirred a dormant curiosity in his Japanese half with the enticement of “gasha gasha” – the capsule toys from those coin-cranking vending machine thingy.
They were amazed because the gashapon machines at home spew out shit. It’s usually a single piece of plastic that my boogers can intimidate. But the toys from Japan – a mini-flash light with Super Mario images, little Lego-like dinosaurs, a teeny Thomas engine (with cargo car) that cranks and goes. And all of them…work.
So now, my boys want to learn Japanese and go to Japan. Not to ride the Bullet train or eat real Ramen or test their ability to withstand an average Tokyo earthquake – no, they want to go there with a suitcase full of quarters and collect gasha-gasha toys.
Wonder if I can convince them we’re actually Canadian.