In elementary school, my mom always came in and did a Chinese New Year party with my class. It was tons of fun, and everyone though my mom was so cool. But when I went to visit my mom's parents in Massachusetts, I was always baffled by the strong Chinese presence in their house -- the characters, the symbols, the food, the language. In high school, I immediately took the opportunity to learn Chinese, and I excelled in my studies. Growing up, I was never ostracized or teased, like some of my multiracial peers, but I was often left wondering if there were other people like me, someone who celebrated Hanukkah but also knew how to make dumplings. But also -- someone who looked partly Asian but partly Caucasian, too. The wonder did not worry or bother me, per-se.
But I did wonder.
Then in the spring of 2005, I saw Kip Fulbeck's "Half Asian, 100% Hapa" in Japantown in SF. I immediately called my mom and bought five copies of the book to bring back east. That booked showed me people who looked like me -- and many who didn't look like me but who were half Asian. It truly blew my mind.
I ended up writing my BA thesis about Asian-White biracial identity development, and I interviewed 12 peers for the project. Hearing their varied stories made me feel intrigued and comforted. There were lots of similarities and dissimilarities between our stories.
My racial/ethnic identity is dynamic, of course, but I consider myself biracial, hapa, "other" -- and I am prouder of my background than ever before.
"When you have something special, never forget it." - Chinese Proverb