Musashi Mix Inq

Palliativity 114: Hapa, Unapologetic

Posted on January 20, 2011

Hapa?

It’s always our eyes that betray us. Growing up in the Midwest of America, it’s hard to explain the exhilaration of seeing a face like mine. The room goes dark in the recognition of a shared lineage, diverse and entangled. We, those forged in no-one’s image, embody the terror and thrill of the unknown. Our genetics reunite a world divided, a metaphor made flesh. The strange shall inherit the earth. A brief glimpse of post-humanity, a preview of the future:

Hapa, Unapologetic

In my freshman year at the college dining hall, I sat with a group of friends I didn’t normally join for meal time. I was making introductions when a girl sat down who I had seen around campus:

√ wavy black hair
√ high cheekbones
√ olive skin
√ almond eyes

As the table conversation continued, the two of us subconsciously began scanning each-other. I’ve grown accustomed to a world where all my relationships and interactions are interracial. But how to approach and breach this silent contract of ethnicity? I mentioned the Internment and her eyes lit up, “My family was at Gila River.”— “Mine TOO!”

For a time, the world around us drifted and the table-mates could only listen on in fascination, trying to decipher the language and etiquette we were inventing on the fly. Her memories of childhood and the search for identity echoed and resonated in ways that words can never capture nor tame. Our hearts fractured and broken, molded to a world scared of our existence. Stories and laughter with the somberness of history.

When all-to-soon it was time for class, the two of us parted. We never spoke again. I am still trying to figure out why. Fear? Is that what it was? The knowledge that we weren’t the only one came abruptly and with a force. Like a child’s first look in a mirror, when they realize that they are seeing themselves— that there exists a perspective outside of their own line of sight. We were not alone and yet we ran away from one another.

• ± •

I spent hours as a child staring into the mirror trying to understand what others saw in me. It was not until much later that I could embrace those features and know that only I can define what my face will tell the world. This is my story.

Thank you for joining me.

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