Mitzi Uehara Carter is a Cultural Anthropologist and freelance writer. She currently teaches East Asian Studies and Anthropology courses in Miami, FL.
UPDATE: As of September 2016, I have decided to put this blog on hold and protect all posts for now. I may decide to open it up again in the future but for now, I am making it accessible only to family and close friends. I appreciate your patience as I think about my next steps.
Why Grits and Sushi?
This title may strike some as a cliche attempt to celebrate being Black/Okinawan. Yes, I know it’s a bit corny but it is a bit catchy. Seriously though, my hope is to go to that space beyond the boring/exotified “I’m mixed and I’m proud” stance.
This blog is a work in progress. It is a blend of my musings on race, family, Okinawa, the military, transnationalism, etc. It’s a place for me to jot down quick notes and meandering reflections about how I see race, civic engagement and issues around knowledge-making practices are moving across these different contexts.
I was born and raised in Texas and as much as I once tried to deny my southernness, it’s definitely part of how I now identify. My father is Black American also born and raised in Texas. And yes, we do love our grits. My mama is Okinawan. I really wanted to call this blog “Grits and Goya” but “Grits and Sushi” seemed more accessible. Also, the image of grits with sushi seemed slightly more appealing than grits with goya–gastronomically speaking. Guess who used to cook the grits in our home? That’s right, my momma.
I received my PhD in anthropology from UC Berkeley and am now a professor in Miami, FL. I also consult and conduct ethnographic projects for companies and individuals. I received my bachelor’s degree from Duke University in Cultural Anthropology and also studied anthropology in La Paz, Bolivia for one semester. I enjoy applying my academic knowledge to real life issues, especially in the field of social change. I have been involved in social justice work since high school. Before returning to graduate school, I worked full time in the field of education and social justice organizing. These various experiences inform my writing in this blog.
My long-term goal for this little corner of cyberspace is to create a communal place for folks interested in similar issues, to have serious and also lighthearted dialog. I hope this space will be fruitful for a different kind of knowledge. Because this is such a personal space for me, I will remain the only contributor in terms of making posts but absolutely encourage dialog through the comment sections. This may change later and I once I get my grounding here, will open it up a bit more.
Although I’m not Okinawan and African Am. I really loved your website. I’m haafu also, but born in Honshu.
Thanks for your comment and stopping by the blog! I never know who is reading and why they do but comments always inspire me to keep this up. Thank you.
Hey Girl! 🙂 David Vine just informed me about you and your work… I’m very excited as I read your blog… I’d love to talk with you soon. I read that you’re producing an event in FEB??? Would love to see if my piece could work there!
All the best,
Ok–I love that David put us in touch!! I’m so very excited about your work as well and can’t wait to read through your blog tonight. I’ll be in touch soon.
I met you briefly last Friday at the Blackness in Flux event – which was amazing! I didn’t get your card but I’d love to learn more about your research. I’m a half-Okinawan student here at UC Berkeley (my father moved to the US about 25 years ago), and I was so moved by the stories you and the others shared. Thank you.
Thank you for coming to the event. It was good to meet you. I would love to chat more. I’ll email you my contact info so we can be in touch.
It was very good to meet you yesterday here at East-West Center. It’s a shame we didn’t have longer to present – it seemed like you had tons more fascinating stuff to share.
I look forward to your future posts, and to crossing paths again.
Hello, Ms. Carter! I’m half-white/half-Okinawan, and I’m currently writing an undergraduate senior thesis paper on the U.S. military presence’s influence on the formation of Okinawan identity. I’ve been looking for resources for my paper, and I came across your site… And discovered that I still have so much more to learn about interracial marriages in Okinawa (eek!). Your work is fascinating and inspiring, and I hope you keep this blog up!
If you don’t mind, would you please shoot me an email at the address I provided? I would love to learn more about your work if you have time. Thank you!
I stumbled onto your site….very intriguing! I am not Okinawan; I was born in Tokyo, abandoned by my Black U.S. serviceman “sperm donor” and later by my Japanese mother (don’t worry, I’ve had the last 43 years to get over it). I just wanted to let you know that I may not qualify for your research/blog, but I will definitely keep an eye on your website, so I can watch and learn and continue to grow. Looking forward to more.
thanks for stopping by the blog to browse and comment. I was just having a convo with my friend about the issues of abandonment. Such a strong part of the black “Amerasian” identity huh. Even for those of us who weren’t it has never been a thought that was all too foreign. It is that thought that is hung lopsided in the old memorybank of images/feelings. The whole, “would she had been happier if…” thought process always sneaks in from time to time. Looking forward to hearing more from you.
Hello: My name is William and I was born in Naha. My late mother was Okinawan and my father Black. I now have two girls and want them to know more about their Asian side. My mother gave her all by allowing me to be adopted by Black Americans. I am looking forward to more items from your work here.
I’m a first time reader of your blog and I just wanted to say thank you. I was an East Asian studies major in undergrad and as a result move to Korea to further my studies. During my which time I have become involved with a wonderful Korean women. I know Korea and Japan are not the same however, the issue of race is still just as prevalent as I seems to be there. I often at time find my self musing at the future my children might have. As I know every individuals story is quite unique there is something to be said about the systemic treatments of race and identity. Your blog is providing me a clearer understanding of what my children may have to face.
please email me you updates
Mitzi, I applaud your motivation and dedication to communicate about our diverse culture. I was born in Okinawa in 1967. Okinawan mother and American black father. Parents were divorced in 1972. I was raised in the States Pa and Ca. Reunited with my mother 1986 in Okinawa. I now reside in Tempe, Arizona. I look forward to reading your blogs.
Thanks for writing. I am so thrilled to keep “meeting” more of us. Wow–your reunion story with your mother must be quite interesting. Have you written about it by any chance? Did you stay in Okinawa for long? Thanks for stopping by the blog. I hope to get it up and going and to make it more active in a few weeks. Keep on coming — I am hoping to start up a forum so we can all “chat” with each other on here.
We need to talk shop! I miss the Bay Area so much because it is my “home.” Perhaps you can speak to my students at SFSU? Chat soon!
This is mitzi! I do know Eriko and can put you in touch with her. Would still love to talk shop with ya though 🙂
I find your site to be very interesting. My father immigrated from Okinawa to Hawaii to work in the sugar plantations in the second decade of the 20th century. In October I will be visiting Okinawa for the first time, attending the 2011 Taikai. I learned early in life that the Okinawans are extraordinarily close in their culture and family ties.This will truly be a journey of discovery as plan to see my relatives and visit the birthplace and neighborhood of my parents. I thank you for sharing your story and look forward to reading more of your blog. Take care and much Aloha.
Aloha Al-thanks for stopping by the blog and taking the time to say hello. I hope you had a wonderful journey of discovery and a beautiful reunion with the motherland at the taikai. I’m in Okinawa too now (as of yesterday) and am totally jet lagged but I hope to get back to blogging again as soon as settle down here.
Important advice or suggestion on be proud of who you are AT ALL TIMES DURING ONES ENTIRE LIFE. no matter what ! “You are who you are” you will never be who you would like to be. Be proud to be Okinawan and what ever! I have traveled the world and I have found and discovered the most wonderful persons also to be Okinawan,
Mitzi, your name rings a bell, think I heard/read about something you wrote about when you were at Duke. For your link via Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu’s website. Were you friends w/ Tatsu Yamato?
I started the first Hapa Club in Tokyo…which died around the year 2000. Not sure if you’re aware of, or your readers who might be in Okinawa, the AmerAsian School in Okinawa (aka AASO) but visit it if you can. Might be worthy of a blog post. ; )
Hi Bobby. Yes–I did write an essay called “On Being Blackanese” back in undergrad that circulated through mixed race sites quickly. I am friends with T. I’ll tell him you wrote here.
I do know about the Amerasian school and know folks who helped to found it and have regular discussions with one of its board members. I have thought about blogging on it but will have to do it delicately as there’s a lot of sensitive issues to raise when discussing it. There are some mixed folks who love it and others who find it exceedingly troublesome. Will come to that subject in time though…Thanks for stopping the blog!
Hey Mitzi! I’ve been doing my own work exploring multiraciality for my graduate studies and have been reading through a book called What Are You? Being the researcher I am with knowledge of the infinite power of Google, I looked you up and came across your site. I just wanted to say that I find your work examining race and militarization on Okinawa fascinating and, as a person who shares a very similar background (my mom is from Okinawa City and my dad is a black American from North Carolina who served in the USAF for 20 years), extremely personal. Perhaps we can communicate in the future. I’d love to hear about the research you’re doing now!
Hi Sheena–sorry for the delay in responding. It takes me a while sometimes. I’m exited to hear about your work as well. Let’s try to talk…would love to hear more about your experiences! Can you email me through the contact form at the top of the main page? I can then email you directly.
I just wanted to let you know that I -just- randomly found this site and fell in love with it. I’m also Black and Okinawan and I’ve always felt a little lonely as a result. There really wasn’t a space for me to openly discuss my experiences and have the people around me understand. Reading this blog makes me realize that I’m not the only one. Thank you so much!
Hi Jennifer. Thanks for stopping by and your comments. I get quite a bit of email from this blog from other Black Okinawans. There are more out there than I realized. We are everywhere. In about a year, I’ll be done editing a page I’m working on to post here–it will include stories, videos, poetry, art from black Okinawans across the diaspora. Several people are working on their pieces now. Please let me know if you’d like to be involved!
Interesting blog. No, I’m pretty boring –Canadian born Chinese with several biracial nieces and nephews (Chinese-Caucasian).
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