My name is Chiyoko. I am ¼ Japanese. My mother’s mother was born in japan, and has practically raised me from the time I was born. I am named after my grandmother’s mother, and the name means thousand generation child. As you can see, I have red hair, pale skin and freckles. But even I have experienced racism. I’ve been called J*p, J*p bitch, an “almost geisha”, along with Ch*nk and Ch*nky eyes. I’ve had white people come up to me and call me chingchonglingalong instead of Chiyoko. I have had teachers practically beg me to use a nickname. My seventh grade gym teacher told me that I should spell my name “Cheeyoko” because that was ‘just the right way to spell it. I don’t know why you use an I.” never mind that the Romanized form of Japanese is how I spell my name. I’ve had white people tell me that I’m not Asian enough to have an Asian name, then turn right around and tell me that the only reason I’m doing well in school is because I’m Asian. White girls tell me that my wish to wear a yukata and speak Japanese to my grandmother is cultural appropriation, then ask me for help with their math homework because Asians know math, right?
But what really blows my mind is the way Japanese people treat me. I’ve had people surprised that I’m part Japanese, but then they encourage me to go to Japan, to study Japanese, and to take good care of my grandmother as she gets older. They ask me if I’ve attended the local Bon Odori that’s held every summer, then encourage me to go when I say that I haven’t. They are accepting and kind, much more so than white people. I am proud to be Japanese.