Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Humankind-ness Of Sarah Moriguchi Ross

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez!

Over the years, Watermelon Sushi World has featured people of all cultures, ethnicities and races. Whether they were mixed, transracially adopted, interracially involved or crossing cultures, they have taken us along on some incredible journeys, and we’ve learned a lot. This bi-month’s Hip Hapa Homee also adds to our multi-culti education by showcasing her family—hopefully, a model for what future families might look like. Read the post below and see if you agree:

Q: Sarah Moriguchi Ross, who are your parents, and how did they meet?

Sarah (right) officiant at Golden Gate Park wedding, 1969
A: My parents met in San Francisco where I was born. My dad had just come out of the Army and WWII, and headed west from Hartford Connecticut. My mom had been working in Louisville Kentucky in the war industry doing draftsman work for airplane building plans. She is from Charleston West Virginia. They met at a boarding house they both resided in.

My dad is German (on his dad's side) and Irish (born in Irish free state) on his mom's side. He was the oldest of eight. My mother is English (on her dad's side) and Native American (Seminole) on her mother's side. I was considered white, although when I was old enough to ask about identity, my parents would say I was a “Heinz 57”. Back in the day, this was a mustard blend that was marketed. My aunt told me about my Seminole heritage much later in life. I was informed that my grandmother, my mother's mother, was adopted and that the county court house burned down with all the records.

Sarah as USPS mail carrier, 1969
Q: What was it like growing up?

A: Growing up in San Francisco, I was fortunately able to interact with many people of different ethnic backgrounds. Being raised white, the conflict I encountered was with my parents over my choice of friends. At 14, my first boyfriend, Fred, was 16 and the oldest of five kids in a multiracial--we used the term interracial back in the day--family of German and Japanese parents. Toshiro (Fred’s dad) was a Nisei soldier who fought in WWII in Germany. He married Josephine (Fred’s mother) who was a young German woman who survived the war. They came to San Francisco and sent for Fred when he was 4, and he got entry into America. He was born in Munich in 1946.

Fred and I married and divorced young. We had two children. I moved to Oregon in 1973 pregnant and with two children—and, single. In 1975, my friend Randy and I started a relationship that resulted in marriage and produced four children. We also raised some of his children. Altogether, we are the parents of ten. I gave birth to seven children. Two are inter-ethnic and five are interracial (multiracial). Randy's three are: one African-American and two multiracial. He is African-American, or a more common term “black”. He is the oldest of three brothers from Los Angeles. We have been together for 39 years.

Sarah (3rd from left, top row) with husband Randy, their four children, and two of hers with her ex-husband
Q: What inspired you to create H.O.N.E.Y., Inc.? (Honoring Our New Ethnic Youth?)

A: Raising our kids of color in a mostly white area presented some concerns--discrimination, mistreatment and lack of role models who looked like them, or even similar to them. The clincher was when they heard us talking about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and they were like, “who?” We knew if we did not do something for them, as well as the community, the situation/area would remain backwards. So, in 1983, before the day was declared a holiday (1986), we planned a big family-friendly celebration for Dr. King’s birthday. We had a petition on the wall to create the day as a holiday. When we finished with the event, we realized that our group of friends and volunteers were a multiracial mix of parents with mixed-race children. Then, we started to organize ourselves to discuss our concerns and our children's identity development. We agreed that combining our efforts to form an organization was a good direction, and incorporated in 1985.

top row: Lela Ross (Sundancer), Karen (Moriguchi) Phelps, Sarah, Randy, Fred Moriguchi, Niyah Ross
bottom row: Maurice Ross, Ayanna Moriguchi, Tumasi Ross

Q: What are some of your group's goals?

A: Our group goals are dual in essence: support interracial families and create a racially harmonious environment. We held programs for children and many adults sat on advisory boards to provide feedback to the larger community. I remember this one instance when I was at a city planning meeting and advocating for black people on the topic of naming a park after Martin Luther King, Jr. The city planner looked at me in complete seriousness and said, “I didn't know any black people lived here.” This was the early 1980's. 

The goal statement from our Facebook group, Honoring Our New Ethnic Youth H.O.N.E.Y. Inc., was founded in 1983 in Eugene Oregon. This non-profit was formed with the goal of providing support and advocacy for the enhancement and acceptance of multiracial persons and their families. The organization’s premise is that in order for the healthy development of interracial families to thrive, it is important that racial harmony be attained by our society. Therefore, through education, Honey strives to create a well-established multicultural community. Our programs and projects reflect these fundamentals. Typically, we still hold celebrations for MLK Day and Loving Day in a family-friendly style. We had a Saturday program for 20 years called Culture Club. Now, it is more of a playgroup and held less frequently.

Q: Some of us are aware that Eugene Oregon is considered a politically radical community, but is it a particularly mixed-race city?

A: Eugene's second biggest “ethnic group” is comprised of persons who are two or more races. This figure is not inclusive of persons who are inter-ethnic, i.e., white and Latino. Our largest ethnic group is Latino. Some data is still a challenge. An old friend once said, “The black University of Oregon football players sure do pepper up the place.” He was a “blue blood” originally from Chicago. I think that meant a light-skinned black person.

I make my own observations about our mixed-race populations. Over the years, the demographics have changed statistically and visibly. When my children attended school in the 1980's, they were the only children of color in their class. Now, as my grandchildren attend school, there are many children of color and, often, they are multiracial. Children of color and mixed-race kids are less isolated now in the school institutions. Therefore, there seemed to be less need for our program, Culture Club. Yes, there are black and brown environments here. But there is no neighborhood that is defined by a particular ethnic group other than white. Upper classes live in the hills and lower classes in flat lands. We have a huge population of homeless people and families. Honey families are a mix of low income and average income folks. The 1,200 black people on the census tend to be middle-class or greater. The five or six thousand of two or more races are a variety of income backgrounds.

Q: Oregon once had a “no blacks allowed” law, yet today, the Pacific Northwest is known as a progressive/liberal region. Any thoughts on that?

Sarah, at center with long white hair,
doing Tai Chi on Loving Day
June 21, 2015 

at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park
A: Yes, that is why the area is mostly white. It was called the exclusion law. When the state was formed in 1859, there was a vote to determine if this would be a slave state. They voted against slavery and for exclusion. This excluded people of African descent, Chinese, Hawaiian and Malays. That law was discontinued in 1926. If I were a ruler of this Oregon land, I would say immigration should only be granted to People of Color for an indeterminate number of years until the racial balance was achieved. Exceptions only to family members. A total fantasy, I know. White supremacists nationwide want to make Oregon a white homeland, and there are many white Oregonians who resist this, also due to their liberal progressive nature. However, when it comes to exclusion, groups still practice various ways to stick to their own kind. My kind is human kind, thank you. A good book on this state history is called, “Peculiar Paradise, A History of Blacks in Oregon.” 1980 Laughlin, (I think). When I read the book in 1989, it really made me realize why this area is like it is. A big “ah hah!”

Q: Since you are so invested in youth and tomorrow's citizens, you must be optimistic about the future.

A: I am not a person with her head in the sand. I know what is going on and it is all very concerning and upsetting. But, yes, to say I am optimistic is true. We have big problems and they can be solved. But division only makes matters worse. Divide and conquer is very effective, and we all need to counter these divisions--put our heads together and create peace, life and love.

Mahalo, Sarah. Dear Hip Hapa Homeez, please consider visiting these links:

Yayoi Lena Winfrey fan page on Facebook (sorry, but Your Hip Hapa can’t add any more friends to her regular profile page)

And join our Hip Hapa Homeez group on Facebook where we interact with you through comments on postings of articles like the one above.

Your Hip Hapa,


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Asian American Adoptee Activist: Simone Labony Labbance

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez!

Welcome back to our Watermelon Sushi World. Meet this bi-month’s featured hip hapa homee, Simone Labony Labbance.

A transracial/transnational adoptee, Simone is a recent graduate of Wellesley College where she studied Asian American Studies and Music. Recently, Simone completed a capstone for her Asian American Studies major, which culminated in a full-length lecture examining the relationship between AAPI admissions at elite colleges and race-based admission practices. Simone was also president of Wellesley Asian Alliance, the only pan-Asian racial justice student organization on campus. Currently, she’s job-hunting in the Boston area and hoping for something in AAPI Advocacy. In the meantime, she also has a part-time job at EMW BookstoreIs that busy enough for you, hip hapa homeez? No? Well, here’s more from this active activist:

Q: Simone, who are your parents and how did they meet?

A: My parents are Kathie and Bob. They have the most generic white names of the ‘50s! They are both racially white. My mother is of mixed European descent, but I think mostly English. My father was very Italian (biological last name of Maestro), but he was adopted into a Hungarian family, hence my last name: Labbance.

I have an older brother, who is also adopted, and his story influences mine, so I’ll touch on it briefly. He was adopted from an orphanage in Kolkata (many people still use the British name of Calcutta). My parents chose India due to interest in the culture and because it was a country known for having relatively smooth adoption processes at the time. When my parents went to adopt a second child, they had two hopes.

1. to adopt a girl, so they could have “one of each”;
2. to adopt from the same orphanage or at least the same region of India, so my brother and I would share a culture.

We’re both Bengali, and as you’ve probably at least heard, India is a very diverse country from food to culture/language and even terrain/ecosystem.

My brother and I are both from the International Mission of Hope (IMH) in Kolkata, but it almost didn’t turn out that way! IMH was hurting financially when my parents adopted my brother. So they grouped together with many other expectant parents to hold a fundraiser. My parents ran an eclectic restaurant and cooked a huge Indian meal. One mother, an artist, painted a backdrop for the dinner featuring a scene from India, I believe…but I’m not entirely sure because I wasn’t there or alive! My brother successfully made it over to our family in large part due to that fundraiser. Yet during the interim year or two between the time my brother left IMH and the time my parents would file for a second adoption, IMH looked as though it was closing, or at least was not in the position to match children and families. So my parents were forced to look elsewhere in India. They were recommended to a place in the southern part of the country. But before that adoption was close to being ready (and definitely not paired), IMH started to accept applications for adoption again. Because I was the second child my parents had adopted from that particular orphanage, the orphanage let them choose the sex of the child. They, of course, chose a girl and ended up with me!

My mother’s first image of me was via fax (yes, back in the days of fax machines)! She tells a great story of holding her breath while watching me appear, feet first, her new daughter, Labony. I arrived at Logan International Airport a few months later in the fall.

Simone with Chinese adoptee
Q: How did you grow up?

A: Ha ha--definitely not in an ethnically diverse neighborhood. I grew up in rural Vermont, the second whitest state in the USA. There was little cultural opportunity, but my parents worked really hard to provide whatever they could for us in that regard. My first home was located in the epitome of backwoods Vermont with only a few children (if that!) in each grade and not a single other person of color in the entire local community. (Unless of course you count my brother!)

So we moved to Central Vermont, which could offer a community with other POC, but most importantly, other children of color. Many of these children were also adopted, and we shared a particularly meaningful connection. Central Vermont also had easy access to Burlington, Vermont’s hub of cultural diversity.

My mother brought me to Indian music and dance performances, as well as international festivals and events for Hindu holidays. At some point in my junior high years, my mother and I attended a Bharatanatyam* (Hindustani classical dance) performance. Through members of the crowd, we discovered there was a massi**, who worked in my orphanage in India, present that night, too! (I’m so grateful for the small community in Vermont at times like these!) She is an amazing person, and we still keep in touch on occasion today. The massi, now Auntie-ji, invited me to her house, spoke Bangla around me (though I’m sorry to say I haven’t picked it up), taught me how to cook desi food, and wholly welcomed me into her Bengali home and community without a second thought. I also met one of the main dancers of the evening and began taking Bharatanatyam lessons in Burlington on a regular basis. (A big thanks to my mother for driving me for an hour there, waiting throughout the lesson, paying for private lessons, and then driving me home.)

Simone plays sitar
When I was fourteen, my father indulged my wish for a sitar. I took sporadic lessons throughout high school, as I had to go all the way to Portland Maine to meet with my teacher. I already had a strong musical background through piano lessons as a young child, and flute lessons starting in fourth grade. While this was clearly European classical music with completely different theory, notes, scales, everything, it did offer a base from which to work. I was very passionate about linking my activism with music. This was especially possible when addressing cross-cultural communication and international relationships.

Simone with Big Bang Bhangra Brass Band (B5)
playing Bangra Jazz fusion
I composed pieces for the sitar and European chamber ensembles. The musicians often came from a variety of backgrounds. My favorite musician to play with was Bolivian American. The piece of music I composed that expresses this most is Me Shanti, or into peace. The first-stage version is still posted on my MySpace musician page, since that was the in platform of the time. This composition was selected to open the United Nation’s International Day of Peace ceremony in 2009 as a musical representation of a world in conflict engaging in cross-cultural dialogue and eventually moving into a state of positive peace. The musicians were from three different continents (including myself). Those who performed were of South Asian, Latin@, and Mediterranean descent to further convey the message.

Since I haven’t produced new music since high school (and the days of MySpace), I haven’t felt the need to move to SoundCloud or anything else. I hope to have a page up within a year with some new pieces though! I’ve learned a lot in my music courses at Wellesley that I want to apply.

Simone's collage for justice
While Vermont is very racially hegemonic, there are pockets of non-whites and cultural experiences if you know where to look. I was very fortunate to grow up with those experiences made available to me.

Q: What was like being a child in New England?

A: As I mentioned previously, there were other people of color and other transracial (and transnational) adoptees in the greater Vermont community. My parents met many parents of transracial transnational adoptees, and maintained close friendships. Their friends’ children tended to be the same age as my brother and me, and even occasionally from the same orphanage! This was a great support growing up. We shared concerns with one another and processed our individual experiences together. Though to a certain extent, it did seem natural to be adopted and to be a different race than my parents, because those were the experiences I was surrounded by.

WWA poster designed by Simone

At college, it was quite different and definitely more difficult! I attended Wellesley College outside of Boston, and our campus was approximately 30% AAPI including international students. Most students of Asian descent at Wellesley are not adopted, speak their mother tongue pretty fluently, and had a much stronger vocabulary for discussions around race, culture, and ethnicity than I did. It was intimidating to arrive at Wellesley, but I also felt most at home with other students who identified as AAPI. No one knew I was adopted just by looking at me, and a few people even thought I was an Indian International student. I was told by other Indians that I gave off a certain vibe that led them to believe this and, according to them, was able to hold my own in discussions of Indian culture.

Q: Do you have the same passion for golf as your late father?

A: I actually quite dislike golf! The only reason I hold any fondness for the sport (now) is because my father loved it so much. He was well respected in the field as a historian and writer. My father fell off a bridge (on a golf course, of course!) and was paralyzed from the neck down when I was still in elementary school. He died in 2004, just after my fifteenth birthday, of ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease. Now that he’s gone, I like hearing golf tournaments on in the background (though I’d never actually sit down and watch). The sound is comforting and reminds me of him.

I would say our mutual passions fall into the category of history, politics, and writing. He was very liberal and used to write incredibly out-there articles under a fake name for a publication in England about Americans. I’m probably more like him than I realize, but it’s hard to tell when your strongest memories of your father are of his illness. My main memories, besides the painful ones relating to his own suffering, are of his laughter and sense of humor, his strength through great adversity. The most useful lesson I learned from both my parents was personal strength during difficult times. I also learned that strength takes on many faces and how to use multiple types of strength to endure life’s hardships.
playing flute in the Himalayas

Q: Have you returned to India, or connected with any relatives there?

A: There is no information on my birth family, so nothing there. But I have returned to India. I studied abroad at an alternative school in India my senior year of high school. This is where I really developed my Bengali American cultural identity. At this school, there were roughly a combined total of 10 American and Canadian students and approximately 30-40 Indian students. I was the only Indian westerner and soon discovered I didn’t fully fit in with either group of students. I wasn’t Indian in the sense that I didn’t grow up in the country and still required a fair amount of help with certain interactions, especially because my Hindi is quite poor. Yet I wasn’t white American. I understood certain cultural etiquettes and was often treated by Indians (students and community members) as though I had never left the country! It was an interesting experience trying to balance the pieces of my identity that fit into both worlds all while trying to remain true to myself as an individual. My experience could not be corroborated with or related to by anyone else in the campus vicinity.

WAA film festival poster
Q: Do you believe that Indian culture is inherent in you, or do you think culture is something that's learned?

A: I believe both. I don’t think one’s culture is inborn, but I think certain people inherently feel more connected to the culture of their heritage. Many personal traits are deep-rooted and even natural, evident at birth. I don’t believe in the “babies are a blank slate” thing. For example, I would also consider myself inherently political and compassionate. I have always been very aware of the world and cared deeply for others. (Perhaps this is what led me to pursue activism!) Even when I was in my first years of elementary school, I would draw posters about current issues and hang them up around school in attempt educate my peers about topics that called for intellectual and moral consideration.

with friend Suh, stepsinging
With regard to culture, part of me definitely has always shown a strong interest in my South Asian heritage and culture. But this was fostered and reinforced by a variety of experiences. I don’t believe that the opposite of inherently feeling Bengali is having to learn the culture. The two are closely linked. If I am interested in my culture from birth, this will lead me to learn about my culture and further my knowledge of it by seeking out experiences that will educate me about my culture. This isn’t an exclusive relationship either! Someone who has shown absolutely no interest in their culture for their entire life could suddenly decide it’s something they want to learn more about and pursue that knowledge without having felt an inherent connection to their roots.

at the Iraqi Youth Leadership Exchange Program

Q: You are so active in your beliefs. Where do you think that comes from?

A: As I said before, I have always shown a strong level of conscientiousness with regard to global issues and exhibited concern with the future of the world and its inhabitants—people and animals alike, although my work does center around racial justice (humans).

Thank you, Simone, for sharing!

Your Hip Hapa,

*Bharatanatyam: Hindustani Classical Dance, also known as temple dancing. These dances are for the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. There are many different styles of Hindustani temple dancing. Bharatanatyam is from Tamil Nadu in the south.

**Massi means caretaker such as an Auntie or someone else of significance…more than, say, a high school babysitter!

Want more, Hip Hapa Homeez? Then, please check out these links:

Watermelon Sushi film
Watermelon Sushi on Facebook
Watermelon Sushi World Networked Blogs on Facebook
Hapa*Teez on YouTube
Hapa*Teez on Facebook
Hapa*Teez on Café Press
War Brides of Japan v.2 on YouTube
War Brides of Japan on YouTube
War Brides of Japan on Facebook
Yayoi Lena Winfrey fan page on Facebook (sorry, but Your Hip Hapa can’t add any more friends to her regular profile page)
Don't forget to join our Hip Hapa Homeez group on Facebook where we post articles and comments about the multicultural community.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Meet Mexipina Mentor, Christina Torres

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez!

As always, Your Hip Hapa thanks you for your loving support. Since Facebook deleted all inactive accounts, the numbers for our Watermelon Sushi fans has plunged. Please “like” our Facebook page at and help build us up again.
Christina Torres

Your Hip Hapa is so grateful for your continued views of our links at the bottom of this post. And, please tell your family, friends and multicultural community organizations to join us here every other month to read about our featured Hip Hapa Homee.

This bi-month, we’d like to introduce you to educator Christina Torres. Here’s her story:

Q: Who are you parents and how did they meet?

A: My Mexican father and Filipina mother met at the University of Southern California.

mother, father, daughter

Q: What was it like growing up?

A: Growing up was tough. 

I was at a mostly white school, so that was hard.

in Hawai'i
Q: Now that you live in Hawai’i, how different is it from your former residence in Southern California?

A: I'm way more accepted here than in SoCal. In L.A., there was also lot of racial profiling that affected me. Here in Hawai'i, everyone is mixed and in interracial relationships, which helps a lot. Still it's hard.

Q: What inspired you to become an educator?

A: I wrote about that here:

But some of it was also the realization that kids who shared my racial background, but grew up a half an hour away, had received an education that lacked a number of opportunities that mine had. I realized I had to do something about it. 

Q: How do you guide your students when it comes to developing multicultural awareness?

A: I make it a point to consistently bring up conversations around race with my students. I've actually already written a paper on facing stereotypes and biases with my students to discuss race issues.

Q: As an educator, how do you see things changing for multiracial people? Or, do you? 

A: I think that as interracial relationships become more common and race issues become more prevalent, we'll move towards a world where these issues are discussed more, and multiracial people will have more representation. I think we have a LONG way to go, however.

Q: What other ways are you active with the multicultural movement?

A: I'm part of the #educolor collective:

and talk about mixed-race issues.

Mahalo nui loa, Christina! 

Hey, Hip Hapa Homeez, until we meet again on June 3, we wish you a HAPA Spring. Remember to check us out at these sites:

Watermelon Sushi film

Watermelon Sushi on Facebook

Watermelon Sushi World Networked Blogs on Facebook
Hapa*Teez on YouTube

Hapa*Teez on Facebook

Hapa*Teez on Café Press

War Brides of Japan v.2 on YouTube

War Brides of Japan on YouTube

War Brides of Japan on Facebook

Yayoi Lena Winfrey fan page on Facebook (sorry, but Your Hip Hapa can’t add any more friends to her regular profile page)


And, remember to join our Hip Hapa Homeez group on Facebook to read the most intriguing articles and comments about the multicultural community.

buy a HapaTeez t-shirt like this one!
Your Hip Hapa,


Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Native Blend With Billy Brady

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez!

It’s been nine years since Your Hip Hapa first posted a blog entry here on Watermelon Sushi World. Mahalo nui loa to all of you who have been with us from the beginning, and to the rest of you who have followed us since.

This bi-month’s post features Hip Hapa Homee Billy Brady of NAMA. Read his incredible story below:

Q: Billy, what does NAMA mean?

A: The National American Metis Association was begun in 1978 and began making possible the identification of being part Native/First Nations heritages that defined us as being "mixed with…”, an altogether newly useful way to identify that didn't crowd those with registered Native heritage by the tribal names alone.

It was also defined here in the U.S. as being a means of bringing identity to being of mixed heritage, which in my own family's case was something thoroughly felt and lived while not being politically broadcast or much discussed. It certainly accounted for how avid we were in my family about the gains being made planetarily and nationally in civil rights on a daily basis from 1954 through the present.

Billy Brady
Q: What’s your life been like?
A: I am 67 and when I was not yet 6, we lived where there were many different peoples in National City, an area south of San Diego. It was an era of visual racial segregation and nearby was the black area of Logan Heights. I had cousins who were friends with black kids there, and my own great-aunts (matrilineal-ly) lived just five blocks “above the color line” as people (I learned 30 years later) who passed for white with both Native and Afro-heritage roots and direct, deep Southern roots that had witnessed what Jim Crow meant first-hand.

Billy's mother with her parents, 1918
Q: Who else is in your family?

A: My own family (my two sisters and my widowed, only-child mother) lived in a 55-acre former Naval housing (duplexes) project. My father was already deceased and he had been, I learned, as blonde as your teeth. His father had been born of direct Irish descent in Adelaide Australia. I never met my father’s mother.

But back to National City, I could see we had neighbors who were Hopi and Navajo and, while I knew we were part-Indian, that same 30 years was what it took for my sibs and me to firmly establish our Afro-Georgian-East Texan roots by taking a trip to the town my grandmother had been born in, in the Deep South, where the white Baptist side of town knew nothing about our family's names. So, at age 5, I knew we didn't look just like the tribal peoples in our housing project. And, I took it upon myself to go and query all the neighbors--ALL of them--about what I wanted to know. About 98% of them answered my question about whether they were part-Indian affirmatively!
The remainder had an idea they probably were as well. So, I got a very sure sense of how many "Americans" (of the strata of those who were living in low-cost rental housing) were mixed and was all the more intrigued about trying to understand what had happened and what was continuing to happen that was causing people to seem unwilling to claim what they were. And, I also grew a refined eye for seeing mixture-ness within people--something that has served me to much better understand myself and our actual shared connections with each other. I also hunted for what the histories were and what else was being kept from admission. I couldn't understand why people would not even discuss what had just happened in the holocaust of the Second World War at that stage. So, I went everywhere to look for information, from the time I could keep a bike upright. And, in 1973, being part-Indian began to get a name that was not fraught with negativity.
Billy's grandmother (left) in San Diego, 1914
Q: Metis means mixed, right?

A: This story is the one we have already posted at the NAMA Facebook page. It was the birth of a national reference to being "Metis" and being “Mixed” was what we meant by this.

It was then that I wrote this contribution to having acceptable language to refer to being mixed, and shared the statistics and bibliographical sheets that were passed around to people of mixed heritage, where I was already involved, by our using lay-counseling tools that were part of the beginnings of the so-called "human growth movement" of the early 1970's.

So, when NAMA came into being with a name, it was seen as appealing to people of mixture who supported that being the case, with an emphasis on what the role of being Indigenous played in us being Americans, regardless of what other heritages we had. That's what got us started.

The stories of many other paths taken along the way of this development--Canada’s part in this, academic pursuits, art, family intermarriages, to name a few, and it's part of understanding what we are doing here, with everyone's sense of how mixed we have become in so many ways. It seems certain to help tie together what we are from and what we will become even a great deal more of.

Q: Kahlil Crawford, who works with multiethnic groups, asks: How did the 1967 Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court decision affect you?

A: By 1967, we were so far into how to end the war in Vietnam and Nixon's COINTELPRO was so far into our personal lives with illegal disruptions, I had begun my silkscreen career--beginning with creating anti-war bumper stickers--that the Loving decision was within the heartwarming blur of “our side” getting farther on the altogether growing momentum for a world that was starting to make its own sense, that we might just be able to deter nuclear destruction and see humans treating each other with some dignity.

Q: Kahlil asks another question: What actually happened in 1954 that turned your family towards supporting Civil Rights?

A: Mom's mom belonged to Father Divine's order of things in The Depression, but it takes new turns to garner new energy and the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya was what I asked my mother about when so many fearful racists were just going haywire about it, although it was 10,000 miles away! Her answer was, "People are fighting for their freedom.” But, as the educators/teachers my family were, the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision marked that as being a societal reassurance to them that there were forces that wanted fairness and freedom for us all.

Billy Brady today
Q: How can Hip Hapa Homeez reach you and NAMA?

A: Through BUFFALOSAGE, an actual First Nations/Metis Company:

Well, Hip Hapa Homeez, we’re starting the New Year with a bang! Please patronize the following links to learn more about us:

Watermelon Sushi film

Watermelon Sushi on Facebook

Hapa*Teez on YouTube

Hapa*Teez on Facebook

Hapa*Teez on Café Press

War Brides of Japan v.2 on YouTube

War Brides of Japan on YouTube

War Brides of Japan on Facebook

Yayoi Lena Winfrey fan page on Facebook (sorry, but Your Hip Hapa can’t add any more friends to her regular profile page)

Sexy Voices of Hollywood


We shall return on April 1 and until then, Gung Hay Fat Choy, Omedettou Gozaimasu and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

Your Hip Hapa,


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Talented, Memory Maker: Miyako

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez.

Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

pretty pink origami and Miyako-san
Your Hip Hapa wishes you a HAPA holiday season--no matter how you choose to celebrate. And, to help you get into a festive mood, meet our featured Hip Hapa Homee for this issue, Miyako Akina Fuqua. You may recall that we interviewed her along with her sister, Sakura, four years ago here:

Since then, Miyako has accomplished so much in her mixed-race world, we thought we’d give you an update:

Q: Miyako-san, do you feel any differently about your Japanese/African American identity since your 2010 interview?

A: A lot has happened since then! Since the last interview, I moved to L.A. One of my observations is that people's ideas of being "biracial" differ whether you live in a big city or a college town. Although my hometown was one of the more liberal towns in Indiana, I felt like I had to justify who I was, whereas in a city you can be whoever you want to be. Don't get me wrong. I love my hometown! But I felt boxed in sometimes because my identity was also associated with my middle school, high school, AND college experience.

Q: Tell us about your film, Barcode 

A: Barcode Man is about an atomic bomb survivor who struggles to forget his tragic past until he meets a student who not only gives him the power to move forward with his life, but to create new memories. 

In college, I was always interested in the politics of WWII, atomic bomb literature and the humanity of the aftermath of the bombing. I wanted to write a story where "new, modern, contemporary" Japan meets and collides with "old, traditional" Japan. It was fun writing two characters from different generations who share a space and grow together. I've also always wanted to see a Harajuku girl in a movie! 

Last year, around this time, Barcode Man won Best Screenplay during the Monaco International Film Festival for the Angel Film Awards. In August, I found out that it progressed to the second round for the 2015 Sundance Screenwriting Labs held in January. I'll find out the results in a couple weeks. 

fabric origami
Q: What’s your new art project about?

A: I decided to start a small business making origami and felt fabric fashion/hair accessories! I've always folded and made things as a hobby growing up, and decided that this was something that I could pursue professionally. 

I wanted to find a way to relive my memories from Japan and Okinawa, focusing on culture, the vibrant sounds, food, and scenery (a lot of my work is inspired by nostalgia). The colors and designs I chose are names of foods I enjoyed as a kid and appreciate more as an adult, like: Mochi, Melon Float, Ramune, Japanese Red Bean, and Japanese Persimmon! 

Here are some links:

origami accessories

Miyako-san in origami

What a way to celebrate the holidays, Hip Hapa Homeez. Please take some time to check out these links, too:

Watermelon Sushi film

Watermelon Sushi on Facebook

Hapa*Teez on YouTube

Hapa*Teez on Facebook

Hapa*Teez on Café Press

War Brides of Japan v.2 on YouTube

War Brides of Japan on YouTube

War Brides of Japan on Facebook

Yayoi Lena Winfrey fan page on Facebook (sorry, but Your Hip Hapa can’t add any more friends to her regular profile page)

Sexy Voices of Hollywood


Until next year and February 4, I will remain…

Your Hip Hapa,