I grew up in Hawai'i, where I was a minority. My friends called me Slappy White, White-White Boy, or Whitey (again, that's what my friends called me). I had friends who learned hula from their aunties, who spoke Japanese with their grandparents, who went to the Chinese Buddhist temple with their parents. Although I'm glad I was exposed to all these cultural traditions while growing up, I never felt like they were mine. I always felt cultureless in comparison to everyone around me. The irony is that my culture is everything else around me--from McDonald's to our system of government, the bulk of American culture is European in origin. But that fact doesn't exactly make me special.
My sisters all married men of Hawaiian, Chinese, or Thai ancestry and have beautiful hapa children. I always imagined I'd do the same, but I ended up marrying a white woman, and we created beautiful children who (to our surprise) are very, very white. I hope my kids are able to strike a balance I've never quite managed to strike myself--between appreciating other cultures and not being ashamed of my own. Perhaps their Seneca, Hawaian, Chinese, and Thai aunts, uncles, and cousins will help them feel like they belong to a broader human culture.
|If my family were a superhero team, we'd be the Global Guardians--a collection of multicultural stereotypes.|