The beauty of being mixed race: How I learned to love my hapa eyes

The beauty of being mixed race: How I learned to love my hapa eyes

Today Show

Samantha Okazaki, Multimedia Producer

“Chinese eyes, Chinese eyes,” the whole table mocked me with their stupid song, pulling at the corners of their eyelids until they were tiny slits; a gross exaggeration of my actual eye shape.

They weren’t being very nice … or creative. I’m not even Chinese.

But 8-year-old me didn’t know how to say that or how to put them in their place. How to tell them that I was born in Japan, but was just as much an American as they were. And that my eyes weren’t a caricature: they were real, they were mine and they were welling with tears.

Instead I wished I could bury myself in my cubby with my baseball cap and glitter pens and never come out. I blamed myself for giving them reason to taunt me. I hated my stupid eyes! I hated how small they were and how skinny. I hated the tic I had developed, a hard deliberate blink that got worse when I was nervous or self-conscious. I hated my dad for giving me my eyes. And I hated being half-Japanese because it meant I looked different than everyone else.

Fast-forward 10 years later. Aside from the tic, which followed me wherever I went, I had pretty much buried all memories of the bullying my eyes had inspired. Then, I moved to the East Coast for college.

I moved away from my hometown that was surprisingly diverse and my friend group that was predominantly mixed race. I unpacked my bags in upstate New York and was greeted with a level of racism I had thought to be extinct…

Read the entire article here.

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