I am so excited to introduce you to my friend, Asia! Asia and I lived next door to each other when I lived in Colorado, she became my friend and my daughter's babysitter. She is a very loving and caring person and I was so excited when she agreed to be featured on Swirl Nation. Please enjoy reading about her journey growing up black, Japanese, Native American, and white.
Lukas is Wakabayashi (Asia for short). I've been 22 for a few years :)
WHAT MIX ARE YOU?
My mom is African American and Native American.
My father is Japanese, Polish, and Lithuanian.
WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?
In the last year, so many people are moving here. There have been tons of Nigerians. There have always been a lot of Mexican Americans as well. I really enjoy all the ethnic stores and shops that have popped up in my neighborhood as a result. So many cute markets and grocers.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I was born in Denver, Colorado. My mother moved us to Georgia when I was in the 5th grade, the area we lived in had a larger African American population than Denver. When I was in middle school we moved to Richmond, Virginia. Richmond was very diverse and full of history. However, no matter where we moved I did not find any mixed kids that I felt like I could identify with.
HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?
My parents were high school sweethearts, they met while in school. My dad lived near my mom's neighborhood and knew all of my mom's siblings.
WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
My mom never felt accepted by my dad's family. She felt judged I think and never felt welcomed. I don't think my dad ever felt uncomfortable.
HAS YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY ALWAYS BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF YOU BEING MULTIRACIAL?
Yes, I did go through a stage in high school where I felt like I didn't belong to either family. I was too dark for my dad's side, too light for my mom's side. The older my siblings got, the more I felt out of place when we didn't look alike.
DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?
I think my family connects through food, on both sides. My mom always makes soul food, or food her grandmother made. My dad used to take me to sushi bars and show me his grandmother's Japanese dishes and such. My mother and father split when I was very little, so I've got to experience both sides separately.
WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?
No, both of my parents spoke English. In high school I studied German and Japanese. During my junior year I had a Japanese exchange student who lived with my family for a week. It was a wonderful experience.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?
I love the foods, maybe because that's how both parents connected me to my cultural background. They are polar opposites in ways, soul food compared to sushi. I love the connection I can make through preparing a dish.
WHAT ACTIONS DID YOUR PARENTS TAKE TO TEACH YOU ABOUT YOUR DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS?
Both parents encouraged me to spend time with family members. Through family I was able to learn first hand. Both were encouraging to me to explore each background.
DID YOU TALK ABOUT RACE A LOT IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
No, it wasn't a huge deal that I was mixed. Both sides of the family always tried to make me feel welcome and included, I think sometimes talking about race can make people feel like outsiders when they don't fit into just one group. I was always encouraged to explore, but it was never a pressed issue.
DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?
I identify as mixed, because that's what I am. I haven't found a box that I fit into, and I'm fine with that.
DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?
No, I don't think I've ever not dated someone because of race. I go off of character. My significant other is Caucasian but I have dated a variety of races and ethnicities…
WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?
It means not fitting into one box, having the option to fit into a lot of boxes. I used to hate that there weren't other people like me, but I've grown to love it as I get older.
DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?
I do not, although I would love to have someone to commiserate with.
ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO RACE/CULTURE?
My biggest and most frequently asked pet peeve people ask me is, “Where are you from?”. This is what people say when they want to know what you're mixed with but don't want to ask it directly. Constantly, it's usually the first thing people ask. Its annoying because does it really matter?
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?
I hope one day we can all mingle, without having to fit into ONE box. I hope everyone embraces the different cultures they might have.