As part of the release party for Seoul Spankings, I asked authors Linda Joyce, Dahlia DeWinters, and Tara Quan to join us for a panel on diversity in fiction. Linda wrote this wonderful post as a starting point for discussion. Please enjoy her story! Find me on Facebook if you would like to be part of the discussion for the next two hours. After that, we’ll welcome Teresa Wymore, Ashlee Bunn, and Cynthia Davenport to talk about dominant women.
This question to me has frequently followed this path:
“I am Linda.”
No, not who are you, what are you?
“Earthling. Homosapien. Woman. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Friend. Dog lover. Author. American. What are you asking me?”
A pregnant pause. They squirm in discomfort.
“Would you like to know about my ethnicity?” I ask because I’m polite, after all, I’m southern, plus I’m Japanese.
“Yes!” and they brighten.
To which I reply: Asian-Cajun-Irish.
What are you? How do you define yourself?
What am I? I’m uniquely me. For example, my birthday is on Christmas Eve. I’m often asked if I wish my birthday were another day of the year. I honestly don’t know how. I have no experience with other birthdays. How would I choose? My birthday is my birthday. The day itself is irrelevant. The important issue is I was born and I live.
I also learned others have fear because of what I am.
I learned mistrust and fear when some second grade boys on December 7th caught me on my way home from school and stoned me because it was Pearl Harbor day. I didn’t even know where Pearl Harbor was, much less what had happened there. When my father explained, I was baffled.
I am bi-racial. My father is Cajun-Irish from New Orleans, the place I consider my true home. He’s as white as it comes. Blond hair and blue eyes. Slightly wavy hair. His documented Cajun family goes back generations. The Irish only a few. My mother, born and raised in Japan, came to America as a bride when she was twenty-six. She is able to trace her family tree not in centuries, but in millenniums. And since I’m of mixed race, my coloring isn’t quite white, nor not quite Japanese. My sister came up with a joke about this: If we were to compare hinnies, yours would be whiter than mine-ies.
Being Hafu (half-Japanese) has impacted me in many ways. After college, when I worked in corporate America, being Hafu was a two edged sword. Woman and corporate ladder equals struggle, and male mangers make assumptions. They don’t know much about women in Japan; however, they read information about men in Japanese corporate culture and they want to apply that to me.
A few years ago, at a writing conference, a woman accused me of not being southern. She predicated her opinion on the fact that I don’t have much of an accent. Really? That’s all it takes to be southern? Darlin’ my granddaddy was one of the last steam-driven riverboat captains on the Mississippi River. My grandmother retired from the New Orleans police department. New Orleans is my home. And I’m not southern because I don’t sound like a Georgia Cracker to her?
The point is, I am Linda. There are many aspects to me beyond the color of my skin and what I sound like, whether or not I love cats or dogs. What I hope you will see in me is the openness of my heart.
After experiencing racism, sexism, religious condemnation, and unacceptance in a myriad of ways all for different reasons, what I know is this: What anyone else thinks of me is not my business. It’s theirs—until they make it mine by crossing a line into disrespect. (Yes, respect/disrespect is a very Japanese concept.) Then, I will respond appropriately.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Buddha
To clarify, I am a United States Citizen, a southern American woman with Japanese heritage.
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball
Here are a few reference links for what is going on in Japan. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/13/world/asia/tokyo-ward-plans-to-extend-rights-of-gay-couples.html?_r=0
Want to know more about my books?
Bayou Born was a 2014 RONE Award Finalist
Amazon: Bayou Born http://amzn.com/B00B9L1VAC
Bayou Bound won 1st in Romance from the Southeastern Writers Association.
Amazon Bayou Bound http://amzn.com/B00I28U6OC
Bayou Beckons will be released on June 1st.
Find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LindaJoyceAuthor