Like most other Asian nations where American soldiers have tread, there are born the babies from the union between the local women and American servicemen. In Korea, Philippines, Okinawa, Mariana /Solomon Islands, former South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc.– the Americans have ‘fun’ there, and then go back to the Mainland U.S.A. to join their American families (or are single).
The plight of these children are often spoken of as ‘tragic’ and par for the course for Asia, as the United States is supposedly ‘protecting’ the world, according to its own propaganda.
The Black Pacific focuses its light on the African-American/Asian mixed children and their mothers, left often in conditions of being excluded, humiliated, beaten up, incarcerated, and are often the target of human trafficking business and the girls often end up sex work, as they are often not hired by the local businesses to be able to live. Often, however, as is the case with African-Americans, Black, and darker-skinned people around the globe (including the indigenous and tribal persons), the entertainment business (particularly for girls and women) and the sports industry (for boys and men) are the places open for ‘Black-skinned’ persons to be exploited by the larger culture everywhere, and able to become ‘something.’ Of course I am generalizing, but this is the general case. Mixed-Black Asians are put into that category of Black, while many African-Americans also discriminate against the mixed folk, while others welcome the mixed-race persons openly without problem. It is a difficult terrain. In any case, the mixed-black is the darker other, exploited, ignored, refused, abused, exoticized. The paths of the mixed-black in Asia, take on similar paths to the mixed-black and black in the United States.
Enter those I’ve introduced earlier on my blog, singers in Japan and Korea who are mixed Black, and who have lived through tremendous hardships to come through to bring their artistry into the world.
Lee Michelle is an up and coming Mixed-Black Korean Pop singer who grew up in Paju, South Korea with her single mother, facing tremendous discrimination and violence. She is now debuting her first single– Without You, which is related to her history of being bullied and excluded in Korea.
One of first exposures of both her as singer, and the discrimination that exists in Korea against mixed-Black people, was on a popular singing contest nationally televised. She was clearly the best singer, but lost out to another Korean singer. This opened up the social media and calls to the television station, of course, to both the typical ‘get the monkey off television’ type comments, as well as outrage against the obvious problem of racism in the final decision.
But time as passed. She has grown as an entertainer and now is releasing her song.
A brief general history can be found on the Wikipedia page:
My Book: Dream of the Water Children: Memory and Mourning in the Black Pacific, is coming out this Fall (2014), published by 2Leaf Press in New York.
Introduction by Gerald Horne.
Foreword by Velina Hasu Houston.
Cover Art by Kenji Chienshu Liu.
Front Calligraphy by Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd
Here are a few recent commentaries on the pre-publication version:
Like a swimmer who has made it through the break, Fredrick Cloyd looks back at the far shore of his war-touched past with fresh eyes. Eloquent, passionate and continually surprising, his meditation on history and the individual provokes and tantalizes the reader through a shared process of remembering. This is an ocean of a book.
– Walter Hamilton, author of Children of the Occupation: Japan’s Untold Story (Rutgers University Press, 2013)
At the nexus between memoir and social history, Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd’s work crosses boundaries of race, nation, discipline, and genre to give us a glimpse into little known territory – the Black Pacific collective memory. Dream of the Water Children is a meditation on the condition of a Black Japanese diaspora born of war and U.S. imperialism as much as it is a personal story of love, loss and spiritual redemption. Written in multiple voices, Cloyd lets his ghosts speak. This book is a beautiful tribute to his mother and sister, and to all the water children that have been swept under the rug of history.
–Grace M. Cho, author of Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy and the Forgotten War
Can be read as a ghost story, a meditation on how to disassemble the heartbreak machines; a catalog of copious tears and small comforts. This is a challenging example of personal bravery and filial love. It puts the “more” in memory.
—Leonard Rifas, Ph.D
Communications, University of Washington
Fredrick Douglas Kakinami Cloyd has written a profoundly moving and thought-provoking book. He courageously challenges our neat categories of identity, going beyond broadening our understanding of mixed race to touch what is human in all of us. This book will shift readers’ perceptions and assumptions and may change many lives. Above all, Cloyd is a master story-teller who honors and respects memory.
—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, historian and writer
There is a fantastic series of seminars going on at University of Southern California, as part of the Sawyer-Mellon Seminars. It is called: Critical Mixed Race Studies–A Transpacific Approach. This seminar is being held on weekends throughout the school year.
I am honored to be on one of the Spring Seminar panels as part of the JAPAN HAPA REMIX, SAWYER SEMINAR X entitled: Transpacific Hapa Stories: Japan-U.S. on on SATURDAY, APRIL 26.
I will be commenting and reading from my book, to be published by 2Leaf Press this coming fall, entitled: Dream of the Water Children: Memory and Mourning in the Black Pacific.
What I like about this is the combining of art and literature, critical thinking and academics, community-building along with some other aspects of social justice work, complete with community events and art events and good food. Panelist readings and presentations will be discussed with academic scholars specializing in the topics presented, along with the audience/attendees.
The Transpacific Seminars focus primarily on mixed-race and mixed-nation/culture aspects between East and Southeast Asia and the Americas, in their many manifestation and critical intellectual approaches.
My Book will be published in the Fall of 2014 – by 2Leaf Press.
I will keep everyone updated.
I have provided the Vimeo introductory video here. More will follow.
While watching this video, there are two issues I want to mention.
1) I mention the phrase ‘all three theaters of the U.S. militarization in the Pacific.’ This is not a complete statement. The editing fails to mention the Philippines, for instance, or Guam, Hawaii, and the rest of the Pacific, including U.S. involvement in China. This is a failure that this video cannot correct. But in subsequent materials, I hope to remedy this omission.
2) In my comment on Vietnamese Amerasians, I am not refusing my historical and identity links to Viet-Amerasians and Southeast Asian Amerasians. What I protest is the forgetting and invisibility of the term ‘Amerasian,’ which pre-dates the U.S. involvement in Vietnam to other places that the U.S. created many babies with local women in such places as The Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, Solomon Islands/Micronesia, Saamoa, China, Korea, Okinawa and Japan; as well as other nations in Southeast Asia–which were all called ‘Indochina.’ In this manner, U.S. hegemony in the Pacific is invisiblized, which would place its power configurations and its effects on local peoples (such as myself) as a mystery or even a lie.
More on my book will follow in subsequent postings. For now, please enjoy my introductory video to introduce my book and multimedia project.
The Generation Nexus: Peace in the Post War Era event is ongoing through spring of 2014. The facilities are beautiful. Approaching the building, the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field, and the waters can be seen, amidst the beautiful hills that are a huge part of the Presidio area in which the Building 640 has been built.
The exhibit itself is worth the visit. It is a beautiful honor for the Japanese-Americans who participated in the US war efforts in relation to Japanese-American communities, and their role, arguably, in successful American colonization of Japan as well as having a role, along with the Soviet Union (Russia), in stopping the World War in the Pacific.
The Artists’ Panel was inspiring and powerful, with Native-American elders and scholar-artists, as well as Japanese-American artists, participating. The panelists, as a whole, were well-balanced. I thank Betty Kano and Roz Tanahashi for a beautiful event. Betty Kano chose the artists’ panel participants well. Since the theme was on postwar and peace, the talks were thoughtful and full of the power of grief, memory, and healing, from varying perspectives and histories.
Of course, I have my critiques of ‘military intelligence’ work, and the entire way in which the ‘Asia-Pacific War’ is taught, and therefore thought of, and remembered by most. The complexity of positions, cultures, and nations involved in various ways to the Asia-Pacific War, weighs heavily in the way the generation of that period relates themselves to memory, forgetting, resentments, rage, repressions, and ways of healing. These, of course, show up in the way we raise our children or how our emotions, worldviews, and proximities to strength, fear, and aggression are shaped in our lives, whether we like it or not.
The Asia-Pacific War began at the dawns of history, way before the US entered. The US shaped the Pacific strongly, as well as the histories of Japanese, Chinese, Indian subcontinental, Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander, Korean Penninsular, European colonial and white militarism’s techno-power.
In this, I spoke of the role of conceiving a ‘Black Pacific.’ It is only a concept, of course, as are all labels and identities, to point to the histories and legacies that shape us. The invisibility of dark/white, yellow-red-black-brown-white dynamics, the role of the concept of progress and the extinction of all that is not progress, and our internalization of a dominant value crushed into us through globalization via colonization, is something we have yet to face. So I spoke. I was surprised to find that my talk dovetailed strongly with my Native American elders who spoke there.
For me, the highlight was the opening. Native American blessings and Okinawan musicians, opened our day. It was truly moving, powerful, profound, and for me, important and memorable.
The exhibit is open through April 2014, and events are held most weekends until then. If you get the chance, please visit the exhibit. It is truly worth it.
The National Japanese Historical Society in San Francisco, presents the Grand Opening, with exhibit and programs:
GENERATION NEXUS: PEACE IN THE POST-WAR ERA
November 17, 2013 through April 2, 2014
Military Intelligence Historic Learning Center (Building 640)— 640 Mason Street, Presidio at Crissy Field, San Francisco, CA 94129
All Programs FREE and Open to the Public!
If Interested, I will be a featured artist in the exhibit (kiosk), participating in an artists’ panel discussion on November 23 at 1:00 pm.
See the Flyer for all programs: