A year or so ago, while I was on my way to Jakarta visiting my relatives, I had to stop in Tokyo for the connecting flight. The first news article when I went on line basically went like this (translated from Japanese, in multiple newspapers ). “First Biracial Beauty Queen Ariana Miyamoto Crowned as Miss Universe Japan, Faces Controversy as She has a Black Father.”
I googled it and found a CNN piece on her. I had to know more about this inspiring, uplifting role model who was breaking biracial barriers. Hafu (a term for half-Japanese), hapa, biracial, “not Japanese enough”. This girl had all labels applied to her just because she had a Japanese mother and an African American father.
I discovered her heartbreaking story of being bullied growing up, of not knowing whether she belonged in the country that raised her. In Japan, she resented her darker skin and taller height, but she grew to realize her beauty as she got older. Her fellow mixed-race friend, facing such isolation, committed suicide. This, ultimately, drove Miss Miyamoto to train to enter a beauty pageant. She wanted to finally prove something, that she could represent Japan even if she was hafu.
She went on to win the title of Miss Nagasaki, and finally, Miss Japan.
I was taken aback when I saw how hafu were at such risk for suicide, how they were accepted in the entertainment industry for their “unique looks” but not in daily life, not as a real person. I went on to research more of what it was like growing up half-black in Japan. It led me to research it more when I returned to the U.S. I watched the video above interviewing the blasian (a term for having black and asian ancestry) Farouq.
He described how, growing up in Japan, he’d be stopped in the streets by tourists searching for directions, assuming he spoke English instead of his native Japanese. He wanted to learn English because he believed, due to the way he looked, it was a mandatory skill. He described how people never really saw him as Japanese, and how that led to a confusing sense of identity growing up.
Whatever their experiences growing up, I support any biracial/multiracial children fully. They’re 100% amazing in my book, and I hope that the trend of acceptance grows worldwide in the coming years as opposed to insular hatred.
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