The New Normal

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-04-12 18:04Z by Steven

The New Normal

The Rafu Shimpo: Los Angeles Japanese Daily News

Mia Nakaji Monnier, Rafu Staff Writer

Hapa Japan Festival and JANM exhibit celebrate mixed Japanese and Japanese Americans

Outside the newest exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum hangs a banner. Up close, visitors can make out individual pictures—each about the size of a postage stamp. These are family photos: grinning kids in kimono, extended families three rows deep posing in the yard, teenagers gathered around Grandpa and his birthday cake. But take a few steps back, and the photos disappear like the strokes of an impressionist painting. Together, they add up, to make enka star Jero.

Why Jero?

Duncan Williams, one of the curators of the exhibit, “Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History,” says Jero represents the future: not just the of Japanese America, but of America in general. Born Jerome White in Pittsburgh, Pa., Jero is mixed— three quarters African American, one quarter Japanese. Yet he’s become famous in Japan for singing traditional enka songs, which he grew up hearing from his Japanese grandmother.

Jero, to Williams, represents the complex identity of a growing group of Americans, whose looks and cultural identifications don’t fit into neat or expected categories. Up close, in those stamp-sized family photos, the kids in kimono have light skin, dark hair; black, white, Latino features. They don’t fit the typical image of Japan, or Japanese America, and yet, statistically, they’re fast becoming the new norm.

“The Japanese American community is now on the cusp of becoming majority multiracial,” said Williams, while leading a tour of the exhibit. By the 2020 Census, the majority of Japanese Americans will be mixed, or Hapa, making “Visible & Invisible” relevant—and, to many Japanese Americans of mixed race or ethnicity, a moving affirmation of their place in the community…

Read the entire article here.

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