Self Identity: Part A (Sixth Grade and Jr. High)

Dear World,

                        Today let’s talk about ethnicity.  I want to come out of this self-imposed closet of my identity. Some of you will say that I am either weird or strange, but what I am about to explain is what I grew up to believe about myself and ethnicity. Let’s explore when it all started in my childhood. So sit back and keep an open mind for what I am about to say.

                        It all started when I was in the sixth grade in this melting pot we call Los Angeles. Back then I had a reading level a few years above everyone else, and I remember checking out multiple books about China and Japan from the local Library. I even remember writing a report in class on Japan. I don’t know why I was so obsessed with Asia back then, I think it might have been who I was in my previous life that had drawn me to Japan. In elementary school, I grew up around mostly Hispanics and a few Asians and a couple of white and African-American kids. Most of my brother’s friends in High School were Asian too. I remember when I was little of going to China town, Little Tokyo and to Various American Indian Pow Wows.

                        My Mother was taking Anthropology classes back then too; around this time is when I also learned about my Native American Ancestors from the tribes of the Cherokee and Micmac. Also about my Great cousins who were mixed with Hawaiian and some other type of Asian we didn’t know about, probably Japanese or Chinese. When I was in Jr. High School, most of my friends were Hispanic and Asian, Mainly Filipino and Chinese/Vietnamese. About that time my brother was in College and he had a Room Mate from Japan that my Mom unofficially adopted who became my second brother.

                        When I was in the 9th grade, my Mom and I joined the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple in Little Tokyo. I was 16, close to 17 when I joined the YABA group. I have been involved at the Temple every weekend since then. Also around that time, I became a volunteer at the Japanese American National Museum, and worked there for over 11 years. This was the time when my Community Activism years started. Volunteering in various groups; like Aisarema, A3M, and The Los Angeles Friends of Tibet.        

                        So this was the beginning and the formation of who I am today. I will end this section here and continue tomorrow from High School. From all the people I met and worked with at this early age and the Japanese American Culture I was immersed in molded me into a Multicultural person.

To Be Continued…

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