Mixed-race Korean adoptees, which has become a major industry in Korea, has adopted out to other nations, including most to the United States, since the end of the Korean War (1953). Because of this, many families were separated, and many memories of adopted children—now adults, and adoptive parents, and birth mothers and families, have lived with the realities of their conditions, wanted or not.
The Mosaic Tours have offered healing for many of these people, to in the very least, visit the countries of their birth, many of whom do not remember Korea, since they left so young. Perhaps a fragrance, or a color, or a sensual memory lingers. And then for those adopted out at a later age, which gave chance for memory to endure, the chance to revisit and heal is a tremendous act in the our times of rapid societal and ecological change, and cultural memory being lost to dominant forces and the realities of war, occupation, and violence. These tours offer great spaces of mixed emotions, joy and inspiration and perhaps sadness. In healing trauma, these moments are held precious.
The Mosaic Tours for this year, are about to embark. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please contact them (refer to the poster from a previous blogpost I published, which I repost below).
When I run into and get to know mixed-race American-Japanese people in the U.S., most of the time, they mention histories of being confused about who they were, their identity. Although, let’s say out of fifty persons I knew, seven or eight of them did not tell me that they questioned their identity, about confusion, the others did. I am one who never had any questions of who I was. But I also began noticing that those who questioned their identity, were mostly born in the United States, or left Japan as a child, before they could form too many sentences. Since American-ness is a place of individuals disconnected from communities, where people must craft their intimacies and friendships and relations, it began to dawn on me that this was not a surprise.
Equally so, was that I was quite sure of who I was and never questioned who I was or what I was.
The book by Terese Svoboda, Black Glasses Like Clark Kent (Graywolf Press 2008), tells the personal true story of Svoboda’s journey, beginning with her Uncle who becomes depressed, then takes his own life.
Her uncle served in the US Occupation of Japan, working as a Military Stockade guard.
Kenji Chienshu Liu‘s latest book of poetry: Map of an Onion, (published by Inlandia Institute 2016), a recent winner of the U.S. national Hillary Gravendyk Prize, is an exquisite blend of intimacy, heart, colonial history’s effects, war, displacements and identity. Grief, loss, and rage are not locked into rational categories displaced in a western psychological malaise, but are instead interwoven and particularized in textures of belonging, memory and uncovering, through the vast emptiness of fullness-in-difference, of history and intimately personal worlds, evoked between words and from words.
I highly recommend this for anyone who loves poetry in contexts of understanding and owning the multiple histories through which our personal lives are woven; intricately with others, of the present and times past, and the future.
Vimeo Visual Poems accompanying the Book, at Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/album/3840355
Leah Silvieus‘s review of Kenji’s book at Hyphen Magazine: http://hyphenmagazine.com/blog/2016/03/“i’ll-look-behind-you-you-arrive”-kenji-c-liu’s-map-onion
When one is displaced from a deep and regular way of living, with its everydayness, their scents and sounds. And food:
Those things become important, usually, for the rest of your life.
In displacement, one sometimes needs that particular food to nourish the soul, so to speak, to revisit the sound of Mama’s voice, or the sound of birds chirping outside, or the rush of palm trees or bamboo, or the quiet.
Often, in the turbulent after-war years, these things that nourish us are the only things that help us survive and stay the only thing stable in an otherwise changing life.
So I will begin posting some things that I and some of my colleagues and friends, have noted to be important foods in the Amerasian and Black Pacific experience.
This first one is from my own experience living in postwar Japan. Onigiri おにぎり, or Omusubi おむすび. Rice Balls.
In Japan, this is a centuries-old tradition. For trips, snacks, lunches and sometimes dinner, the diverse ways in which Onigiri is lovingly made, by Mama, or by a master chef, is timeless.
Of course I still make some for myself. But my late Mama always made the best, in different shapes, with different things hidden inside, or beside them in a bento box.
Fried (yaki), on skewers (kushi), plain, or with nori wrap, or Hawaiian spam or other sweet meat, sometimes made with fried rice, any vegetable or fish or meat inside, or not, with sesame seeds or not……. love them all.
Controlling Amerasian Body-Minds: The American and French-Fathered Mixed-Race Children in Japan, Korea and Vietnam
For infants and children born to local mothers in Japan and Korea, fathered by U.S. military and civilian personnel during the U.S. occupation of these countries, their lives were not in their own or their mothers’ control. During U.S. occupations in Asia and the Pacific which began earlier—Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, the Mariana Islands, and the Solomon Islands—the same issues became prevalent, real, a struggle, continuing today. It continues today because these places are still “occupied.” And then in the latest full-out colonial Cold War played out in Southeast Asia, the same for the children and their mothers. But let us not forget that before the U.S. arrived in Southeast Asia, the French colonized Indochina. They had state policies on how to control the issue of the Metís, as they were called by the French, which differed from the United Statians.
A Black-Japanese Amerasian reflects on life in the present, with the traces of wars and their aftermaths. 2Leaf Press is pleased to announce the publication of Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd’s first book, DREAM OF THE WATER CHILDREN, MEMORY AND MOURNING IN THE BLACK PACIFIC, in June 2016.
This is a Podcast from a February 2015 edition of “Drop That Hyphen” at the Project As(I)Am Online Magazine which is a Hub that brings together Asian-American activist-artist-thinkers together to challenge racism, sexism, heterosexism and homophobia, nationalism, class/caste-ism, and other oppressions toward social change.