Recently, my mother sent a picture of our traditional Hinamatsuri dolls.
In the past, my sister and I helped her unpack each doll – about 16 in total – and arrange them on a precarious platform in our living room.
This time, it was just the emperor and empress sitting on top of the family piano.
The picture was gorgeous, but something felt wrong. I quickly realized that it embodied how it felt growing up Japanese American: beautiful but abbreviated.
We are allowed to be here, but the way I’m treated sometimes keeps me in a state of doubt. The slights are big and small – from the smirk of disgust from the cashier at Safeway as I buy daikon, miso paste and other Japanese foods, to men leering at me as they guess “what” I am because of my “exotic” appearance. Sometimes racism feels like death by a million paper cuts, other times like being hacked by a machete.
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