People will occasionally stop me and ask me what I “am.” They can tell I’m not a straight-up caucasian, but they can’t quite pinpoint what my “mix” is. There are those who wonder if I’m part hispanic, but most who venture a guess posit something in the asian family.
The most common guess is Hawaiian. The first time I was asked if I was Hawaiian, I was 15 and knew nothing of the islands. I was taken back at the question; not because I have anything against Hawaiians, but because all I knew at that time was what I had seen on tv: native Hawaiians in grass skirts dancing the hula at a luau. And, well, while native Hawaiians are not tall – as I am not – they are also somewhat thick and stocky. Which I am not. (Nothing against stocky, that’s just not my build.)
A few years later, I moved out to DC for the summer after my freshman year of college. And I worked with a Hawaiian. Who was Chinese. He lived in an apartment with 5 other Hawaiians. Who were all Japanese and/or Chinese.
After that summer, I realized that whenever someone asks if I’m Hawaiian, they don’t mean a native Hawaiian. They just mean was that where I was born? I still have never been to the islands, but I imagine it’s a jumble of all kinds of asian-ness – with some caucasian thrown in.
So, no, I’m not Hawaiian. But I imagine Hawaii to be a place where I can find many who look a lot like me.