I remember thinking to myself, “You’ve never been called Asian before. There’s zero chill to this.”After repeatedly hearing things like, “Oh yeah, he has a thing for Asians, so you might have a chance,” and “I don’t mean it in a racist way! ” I started to subconsciously search for ways to hide the parts of me that made me Asian. Being 2,000 miles away from home without any relatives nearby, you find ways to adapt to find comfort.
Being considered “different” from all the white kids, I wanted to remove from my identity all parts of me that were ethnically different.
But, to us, traditions you’d call “Japanese” were as normal as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are to others.
Though I didn’t notice it at the time, I now realize that Hawaii was a true melting pot of diverse cultures — and many people around me looked like me and had an inherent understanding of the traditions and values I grew up with.
In October of 1765, colonial representatives met on their own initiative for the first time and decided to "mobilize colonial opinion against parliamentary interference in American affairs" (6).
From this point on, events began to reach the point of no return for the colonies.No one ever asked about my last name, or questioned whether nattō was a normal after-school snack.During my childhood, being Asian in America had nothing to do with being Asian. Fast forward to my first week of college orientation.The act of gathering and creating food brings us together (and something we still defer back to when we're feeling a bit homesick).Comment below with what about your culture brings you ✨joy✨.To some people — most people, perhaps — we may all look the same, speak the same language, eat the same things, and come from the same place.But let’s just pretend for the duration of this essay that placing all Asian Americans into the same racial category isn't the norm.In the almost two years that I’ve been here in NYC, I’ve started to take Japanese language classes, and to wear the clothes and accessories I used to deem “too Asian.” I’ve even learned the basics of taiko — a wide range of Japanese percussion instruments.I’m making more efforts to connect with the Asian American community in NYC through social media, and am taking strides at work (especially during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month) to make sure our stories are heard — to let the Culture has a way of connecting us from the things we have in common to our differences.I’m Gosei, meaning my great-great-grandparents immigrated to Hawaii from Japan in the early 1900s, which is actually earlier than many white Americans can trace their stateside heritage back to.To put things in perspective, my family has been “American” for more than a century.