two halves of a whole identity.

By Kelly Yoshimura, San Pedro City Representative

People told me, that when they first met me, they identified three things: 

She’s a girl, she’s Asian(maybe Chinese), oh wait, she looks a little different than any other Asian. 

I told myself, when I realized that I’ve never met anyone like me, I identified three things:

My Mexican side othered me as their Japanese relative even though I’m just as Mexican as they are, my desire to speak Japanese to my grandparents has never been stronger, and what do I really identify with?

Because, I know the first thing that comes to mind when we’re talking about race or ethnicity is that I’m Asian. Period. 

But. I also know when people get to know me the first thing that comes to mind is she’s the Asian girl who speaks Spanish and eats Mexican food. 

I also know that I say I’m Mexican before I say I’m Japanese, and I’m not sure if it’s to prove something to myself or to other people. 

Do I identify with how people see me or how people know me?

Does it make me any less Mexican if I don’t experience the hardships my mother has had to face because my hair is black and my eyes slant? 

This poem/collection of my thoughts is titled “Two Halves of One Identity”, but my secret is that I’m actually not half Mexican and half Japanese. 

I’m an eighth Chinese on my Mexican side, and while it isn’t a lot, I wonder if my mom, my aunts, my grandmother, and the rest of my family ever had this inner conflict. 

I wish I could say “it’s complicated” and move on, but you can’t really unsee what you know.

So, I continue to describe myself as half and half, and really, who I am is much more important than what I am. 


About the author

Kelly Yoshimura

Kelly Yoshimura is apart of the executive leadership team and represents San Pedro in the Asian Hispanic Empowerment organization. She is passionate about her heritage being both asian and hispanic. Although it was hard for her to find her real identity, she realized the importance of embracing and celebrating all of her backgrounds.