Dream of the Water Children: The Black Pacific

Mizuko – and Negishi Cemetery

a headstone at Negishi Cemetery. Photo from Debito.org credited to “CF.”

 

In 1853, Commodore Perry intruded the Japanese and Okinawan islands with demands, and finally landing and then the following year again, after repeated threats and failed negotiations with the Japanese Bakufu, demanded a gravesite for one of their sailors who died on board one of the American ships. This was the birth of the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery in Kanagawa Prefecture,  just down the road from the future famous Elizabeth Saunders Home for Mixed Race Children, which was a well-known place where mixed-race babies were given up to during the World War II era. During subsequent years, through many battles with Russian and Chinese military, as well as trade relations, the number of foreigners dying in Japan, alongside Japanese soldiers, became too large and the cemetery grew to house the graves of many kinds of foreigners in Japan.

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Mizuko 水子 – “Water Children”

Jizo statues stand in many places and in many forms around Japan. Photo by Angie Star.

 

The title of my book: Dream of the Water Children: Memory and Mourning in the Black Pacific, contains terms that are in the in-between space between language, history, and worldviews.  In this post, and the next post, I will focus on the term: water children.  What is this?  In my own use of the term for my book, what does this mean?

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AVAILABLE Now! My Chapter in Great Book: THE BEIGING of AMERICA

This book is a treasure full of varied, intense, and memorable stories and perspectives on being mixed-race in America.

I, along with other mixed-Asian writers, and other mixed folks, have short chapters in this anthology, published by 2Leaf Press.

PLEASE SUPPORT 2Leaf Press. You can purchase the book from 2Leaf Press (print and ebook versions), or from Amazon.

Even if you may not be interested in purchasing the book, please consider supporting the press. It is a Person-of-Color owned independent publishing house, trying to survive in an ever-increasing, ever-dominating corporate publishing world.

Maintaining, Exporting, Protecting Racism

From Jet Magazine, February 28, 1952

When the Amerasian School of Okinawa opened its doors in 2003, it already opened amidst controversy. I will not go into any details about most of it here. But my point in bringing this up is the particular criticism that this would further the divide between “ordinary” Okinawans, and mixed-race Okinawans fathered by American military personnel, American civilians, and other non-Okinawans.

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Stephanie Blandon — Pan-Amerasian Connections: Adoptions

 

Stephanie Blandon, a blooming artist who was born in 1957 in Inchon, Korea, was left on the doorstep of an orphanage and adopted into a Black-American family stationed in Korea, then brought to the United States. Her story resonates across a Pan-Amerasian context, where military bases, orphanages, postwar realities of poverty and devastation and the American military presence, and racism in Korea and the United States, play a part in the ways in which Amerasians will craft their lives. Although each of us (I am Black-Japanese Amerasian from a military brat nuclear family), have different lives and respond differently to our circumstances, there are threads of similiarities in the struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia, nationalism and the tensions between community and individualism

Her story is touching and teaches us many things.  Please visit her beautiful short essay at:

Dear Adoption, I’m Nearly 60 Yet Still the 5 year old Version of Myself 

 

Mixed & Objections – Thoughts

Occasionally, as people may guess, I get emails, or messages in my FB messages, and comments in response to my posts on Facebook, that object to and criticize my posts that “lean” toward “being against white people” or “being against Japanese people” or “being against black people.” In a world of words, and I–being a person who distrusts words but must use words to communicate certain things, it is hard to navigate what I consider to be colonized relations.  This includes how we use words, and how we *listen* or *hear* and how we filter and project. In social relations, our words and ideas as well as our ideals, are mixed up with personal feelings, kinds of traumas we’ve experienced, attachments and commitments in our subconscious, and how willing we are to change or to look at ourselves, as well as our ethical and moral dispositions. Yes, we are not simple beings. From all sides, people who are married to their own ideas of self (and cannot see difference), will accuse, accuse, accuse.

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Join ‘Japan’s War Brides and Their Legacies – 2018 Symposium’

Japan’s War Brides and Their Legacies: 2018 Symposium — a symposium on the legacies and effects of the lives of women who married non-Japanese between 1945 to 1965, will be coming at USC (University of Southern California) in 2018.

I will be one of the organizers and looking forward to building this into a solid first-time program.

My hope is that healing, learning, connection, and impacts are made, linking the individual and diverse post-war Japanese women’s experiences with the lives of their children and what and how this links with other stories that create spaces for thinking for social change and social justice, and to honor the lives of the Japanese war-brides, which are often mired in controversy and various forms of invisiblizing.

Our intention is to bring Japanese war brides, their children, and the scholars, artists, filmmakers, and the general community together for a series of events for sharing, thinking, healing, and inspiration.

If you are a child of a Japanese post-WWII marriage, or are yourself, and would like to join in bringing this symposium together, please join our facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1849706125309535/

MOSAIC TOURS – Korean Hapa Tours 2017 readying to Go!

 

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).

 

 

My Early Puzzling racial questions……..

diz-carla-mama-me
Mama, myself, and my friend Diz and his sister Carla, in front of my Dad’s new Mercedes just outside of Tachikawa Air Force Base, Japan in 1961.

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.

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