Half or Bi?


Japanese people call mixed race people “half.”

Just “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.


Author: Namzola_Goodness

A Japanese-American who grew up in the streets of New York during the racially volatile 70's, Nami blogs with guts, heart and humor. Dysfunctional parenting, cynical citizenship and...love of beer to wash it all down.

12 thoughts on “Half or Bi?”

  1. Far out I just want to give you a big hug right now! That and have a Sapporo Nama with you!
    I never understood the term “Halfu” – because obviously it means (to me) you’re incomplete. And that may be the case for me mentally (especially with the way I drank myself to the ground in Roppongi) but definitely not emotionally.
    You know, I ran away from Australia to Japan because I was so sick of the racism and prejudice here in this country. What Japan taught me in its warped round about way was to go back and deal with the f**kers. So, here I am…
    Grace recently posted..La Vie En Rose {Brauer Giveaway}My Profile

  2. Funny how American ends up being mixed in with so many other nationalities. Gosh, just look at all the combinations out there. For my redneck family, their forever connected to Europeans, all thanks to me!

    Regardless of where one originates, we all bleed the same color blood, red.

    Always enjoy your posts, Namzola!
    Diplo Daddy recently posted..The Accidental Wanna BeMy Profile

  3. I never use the term bi-racial- Usually half-Korean. My kids tell everyone they are “quarter-korean”. haha! In our case, our kids came out with skin color that matches either mom or dad. Milky white-pink for our little girl just like dad- and brownish-yellow for our son exactly like mommy. 🙂
    tricia recently posted..Write Each Sight Word In Bleach…My Profile

  4. Firstly, Hot Joe likes to call Noah his half-breed. I always punch him but 1. He doesn’t say it in front of Noah and, 2. He doesn’t mean it maliciously. He loves Noah. When Noah was small he insisted he wasn’t “black” because he looked at himself and he looked at his grandmother who is really dark and he was like, “really?” Now when we go places I feel like I need to tell people, “Oh he’s Noah’s ADOPTIVE dad” but in reality, they could very well just assume one of us is Noah’s step-parent. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT PEOPLE TO THINK. I want them to know we are both his real legal (if not biological) parents!!!

    The end. DAMMIT I always forgot to confirm I’m not a spammer.
    Kim Pugliano recently posted..And he Continued to WorkMy Profile

    1. Ha, ha – half-breed! Coincidentally, I’ve been looking at pictures of Cher with drag queens. I feel bad for my husband because nobody EVER says our guys look like him. Until they have a temper tantrum – then they go, “Oh…NOW I see the resemblance.”

  5. ahahahahahahahahahaha
    I love your writing style, and your wit and perspective..
    you always make me laugh.

    Gasha! Gasha! stuff that actually work!! Love it!!

Leave a Reply