Learn about the Blasian Experience
Naomi Osaka has consistently ranked as one of the top female tennis players in the world. (And as of writing this, she holds the reigning title of Australian Open champion!). Besides her athletic prowess, what we admire most about Osaka is her self-assurance in her identity as a half-Black, half-Japanese woman. Posing in golden hoops and an afro, she once told The Wall Street Journal, “I’m just trying to put a platform out for all the Japanese people that look like me.” The Blasian experience is multicultural and complex. Beyond questions of belonging, we share stories from this community on formative memories in creating their unique identities.
“I am less Black than someone half Black, but also less white than someone half white... and Asian is the least thing I am. So at this point, it’s whatever they want me to be.”
― Jhene Aiko
“We look for our path in this world and attack it consistently to make a name for ourselves.”
Growing up I struggled in school, and especially in math. It was hard to live up to family expectations when I would come home with D’s and F’s. Sometimes, I would cover up my test once I received it from my teacher so I wouldn’t be judged, then hide it from my parents when I got home. I was afraid I wasn’t worth being asian. Asians take pride in competition and breaking boundaries. I believe that's why our community is able to adapt and overcome
hardship. We look for our path in this world and attack it consistently to make a name for ourselves.
I became an investor from nothing to do just that; make a name for myself. People say, “Don’t you want to be the next Chamath Palihapitiya?” I tell them, “...No, I want to be the first me.” This competitive mindset and perseverance is instilled in our Asian community.
––– Bhishma, Black-Indian, 26
NYC, New York
“It’s a strange, and admittedly terrifying feeling that the words are all so familiar, but feel so foreign when they come out of my mouth.”
I’m scared of gaining an American accent when I speak Japanese. To somebody who doesn’t speak Japanese, it’s harder to pick up. There’s certain mouth shapes, certain cadences, certain tongue placements that sound like the difference between a native speaker and a foreigner. I used Japanese my whole childhood, being sent to Japanese weekend school begrudgingly every Saturday from kindergarten through high school. But like many bilingual children, I’ve fallen into the habit of responding to my mother’s Japanese with English. It’s a strange, and admittedly terrifying feeling that the words are all so familiar, but feel so foreign when they come out of my mouth.
As someone who looks outwardly more black than Asian, I often feel the need to prove my “Asianness” in Asian settings. I can’t help but feel like losing my “proof” of being Japanese is losing a piece of myself.
––– Elliot, Black- Japanese, 20
“I was just trying to find my way, not wanting to have to choose being Black or Korean. It was hard for people to accept that I could fully have both.”
In middle school, I was a part of a recreational football team. Our team was primarily Black and Asian students. I remember my coach gave me this nickname: Black Chinaman. Some of the other team members would call me this too. Looking back, I realize it was in a derogatory way and soon, the other football players adopted the label too, saying, “Yo, what up Black Chinaman!” I had a lot of Black friends and being the Asian, I wanted to fit in. But I always felt awkward and began wrestling with this duality I felt. I was just trying to find my way, not wanting to have to choose being Black or Korean. It was hard for people to accept that I could fully have both.
––– Sky, Black-Korean