Blasian Makes Top 10 of Miss Universe

Ariana Mamiko Miyamoto (宮本・エリアナ・磨美子) was born in Nagasaki to a Japanese mother and an African American father (Bryant Stanfield). Her father met her mother while stationed in Sasebo with the United States Navy. Her parents married but divorced when Ariana was an infant.

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Ariana as a child with her mom
 

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Ariana as a teen with her dad and half-sibling
When Ariana was 13, she moved to Arkansas with her father to attend two years of high school in the United States. As a child in Japan, she was often called “kurombo”, the Japanese equivalent to the N-word. She says she felt normal for the first time in Arkansas, although she was still treated as a foreigner. In the U.S., she came to speak of herself as black, while in Japan, she still calls herself hāfu (biracial in Japanese). As Miss Japan, she presents herself as an ethnically mixed Japanese person.

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Miss Nagasaki 2015

 

Miss Japan 2015

In 2015, Ariana won Miss Nagasaki and went on to represent her prefecture in the Miss Universe Japan pageant. She was crowned Miss Universe Japan 2015 in March. She is the first hāfu to win the pageant. Upon her selection, she faced criticism for not appearing to be Japanese. There were comments that her face was too “gaijin”, literally “outside person”. Ariana is a Japanese citizen, born and raised in Japan and fluent in the Japanese language. She identified as Japanese and even holds a 5th degree mastery of Japanese calligraphy. Ariana wants to represent the new face of Japan. “International marriages are happening. There will be [more] biracial children. I want them to be as accepted in Japan as they would be in the U.S. I want society to get used to that idea.”

Ariana went on to compete in Miss Universe 2015 in December, where she made it to the Top 10. Having represented Japan globally, reigning as the first half black Miss Japan, she serves as a role model for multiracial Japanese people and challenges the idea what it means to be Japanese.

Selected Sources: 
* CBS News, Beauty queen brings light to Japan’s racial issues“, April 13, 2015.
New York Times, Biracial Beauty Queen Challenges Japan’s Self-Image“, May 29, 2015. 
NBC NewsThe First Multiracial Miss Universe Japan Has Been Crowned“, March 17, 2015.

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Blasian Wins WTA Rising Stars Invitational

Naomi Osaka is the WTA Rising Stars Invitational Champion. The WTA Rising Stars Invitational is a showcase event in Singapore that brings together four WTA Rising Stars age 23 and under through a fan vote to compete alongside the best of the best at the WTA Finals.

Born in Osaka, Japan to a Haitian father (Leonard Francois) and Japanese mother (Tamaki), Naomi was raised in the United States and speaks very little Japanese, but she has always played tennis under the Japanese flag. Her father registered Naomi with the Japanese Tennis Association, rather than the United States Tennis Association, due to her dual passport. Her diverse background and strong tennis skills could make Naomi the next big thing in tennis.

WTAtennis.com, “Osaka Wins WTA Rising Stars International“, October 25, 2015.

First Blasian Contestant on AsNTM2

Marie Nakagawa with the flags of Senegal & Japan

Season 2 of Asia’s Next Top Model featured blasian contestant, Marie Nakagawa, of Japan.  Born to a Senegalese father and a Japanese mother, Marie has often been mistaken for a non-Japanese due to her mixed heritage.  Marie was often bullied by her peers during her childhood in Tokyo.  In her Intro video for AsNTM, Marie discusses the difficulties she experienced as a blasian child in Japan.

Filmed in Malaysia, Asia’s Next Top Model (cycle 2) premiered on January 8, 2014 on STAR World Asia and Fox Asia.  Sixteen women from across the Asia-Pacific region participated in the televised contest.  prior to her elimination.  She was in the bottom 3 in Episode 2 and was the first to be given a second chance.  She was the first call out, selected for best photo in Episode 4, Episode 7, and Episode 8.

Episode 4: The Girl That Embraces Change
Episode 7: The Girl Who is in the Spotlight
Episode 8: The Girl Who Makes a Splash

Marie posted the following on her Facebook page on January 22, 2014, discussing her desire to help Japan recognize the diversity of beauty.

“Japan really needs to realize that FASHION should be equal to any races and I’m hoping that Japanese fashion industry will be more open mind to those colored race as well. Trust me, I am giving my all to change Japan for all those young girls looking up to Japanese Fashion Industry Which They only Have Either white or light Skin tone Damn too skinny and cute Eyes Big Girls That says and Represent and Being told as the definition of World’s Standard BEAUTY” Which IS Totally not. Their only to BE Admire.
We Live in Japan, but we ALSO Live in the World.
non of US in the World IS Same. We all Have Different skin color, we all have different eye color hair colors and everything and WE ALL DIFFERENT that’s exactly why we should accept the beauty each other and we NEVER EVER have to set the definition of beauty by skin color or the size of the eyes or big teeth Small teeth skinny or Chubby or whatever the reason Stupid Which we should Never Compared to and by Judges.
DIFFERENT AND WE ALL BEAUTIFUL IN OUR OWN WAYS.”

The Newest Blasian Reality TV Star…

Dina Ruiz Eastwood!

Dina Eastwood began starring in a reality television series on the E! network about her life called Mrs. Eastwood & Company in May of 2012.  The show focuses on the lives of Dina, wife of actor/director Clint Eastwood, and their daughters, Francesca and Morgan.  Mrs. Eastwood manages the six-person a cappella group Overtone, who also live with the Eastwoods in their Carmel-by-the-Sea, California mansion.  The season finale aired on July 23rd.

Television news anchor Dina Ruiz* was assigned an interview with Clint Eastwood in 1993.  Three years later, the couple married in a surprise private ceremony planned by the groom.  Following the birth of the couple’s daughter, Morgan, in 1996, Dina left her anchor spot at KSBW-TV.

While in South Africa with her husband for the filming of Invictus, Dina discovered Overtone.  The group sang the soundtrack for the 2009 film.  Dina was so impressed by their talent and potential that she relocated the entire sextet to California and has been managing them ever since.

In the Spring 2007 issue of Carmel Magazine, Dina spoke about growing up multiracial. –
” I was the darkest kid at my elementary school.  I used to get called ‘nigger’ in grade school.  I had a real problem with my looks until I was about 20.  Now everyone is mixed.  It’s no big deal.  My dad is black and Japanese.  And my mom’s Irish, German and English.”

LEFT: Dina’s dad, Michael
RIGHT: Dina’s mom, Mary Lou

* Although Dina’s family name is Hispanic, she is not Hispanic at all.  Dina’s father was adopted by a Portuguese American / Puerto Rican family named Ruiz.

Selected Sources:
* E! Online, “Mrs. Eastwood & Company“.
* Dina Eastwood, Twitter.
* Carmel Magazine, The Simple Things: Dina Eastwood Prefers Substance Over Style“, Spring 2007.

Blasian Olympians Worldwide

Ding Hui
Volleyball
CHINA

In April 2009, the Chinese Volleyball Team announced the 18 members of the men’s national volleyball team for the 2012 Summer Olympics.  Among them was Ding Hui, the first black athlete on a Chinese national team.  While Ding is the first mixed-race athlete to play on a national team, a number of foreign players play in China’s professional football and basketball leagues, and foreign coaches have worked with China’s national teams.

Nicknamed “Xiao Hei” or “Little Black”, by his team mates, Ding Hui is the son of a South African father and a Chinese mother.  A native of the east China city of Hangzhou, he speaks Mandarin and the Hangzhou dialect.  He is a Chinese national and was raised by his single mother, Yu Jianxiu.  Ding never met his father, who left China before he was born.

Ding Hui’s selection has stirred up some racial prejudices among his countrymen.  Commentators have noted that he has a “pleasant and perky nature” and is talented at “singing and dancing”.  On Chinese internet forums, he has been lauded for the “whiteness” of his teeth and the “athleticism of his genes”.

China’s black population is tiny.  However, the black population is growing rapidly.  One predominately African suburb in the southern city of Guangzhou is referred to as “Chocolate City”.  Since 2003, when China started pouring investments into Africa, there has been a significant movement of Africans in the opposite direction.   Hopefully, as China’s population becomes more diverse, future minority athletes will be recognized for their skills and performance, rather than their heritage. 

Cheltzie Lee
Figure Skating
AUSTRALIA

Lee was named to the Australian team, competing as one of the youngest Australians on the 2010 Winter Olympic team at the age of 16.  At the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, she qualified 18th in the short program, scoring 52.16 (her career personal best score), and finished in 20th place overall.  Cheltzie is working towards a spot in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Lee’s father is Chinese and was born in Bangladesh, and her mother was born and raised in Louisiana and is African American. 

Yvonne Kanazawa (金沢 イボンヌ)
Track & Field
JAPAN

Although Yvonne Kanazawa grew up in Sacramento and trained and coached at California State University, she competed for Japan.  “I was born in Japan.  My mom is Japanese.  So, I have Japanese citizenship only.  I’m not a dual-citizenship person.  So, I had no choice but to compete for Japan, and it worked out pretty well,” Kanazawa said.

Kanazawa is an eight-time national champion in the 100-meter hurdles with six records to her name.  In 1996, she became the first female sprinter in 32 years to make an Olympic team in Japan.  A Japanese record holder, Kanazawa again competed for Japan at the 2000 Olympics.  She was a semi-finalist at the Summer Olympics in Sydney and retired from competition in 2004.

Selected Sources: 
* Wall Street Journal: China,China Welcomes Chinese-African Player to National Team“, April 14, 2009.
* Cheltzie Lee, Official website.
* Yvonne Kanazawa, The Study of Racialism.

Blasian Americans at the 2012 Olympics

As we celebrate the beginning of the Games of the XXX Olympiad, let us recognize the blasians representing Team USA in London this summer.

CONGRATS TO LIA, KYLA, & PAIGE Blasian Olympic medalists for Team USA!

Lia Neal
Swimming 
Lia with her parents, Siu & Rome

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Lia’s father, Jerome, is African American, and her mother, Siu, is from Hong Kong.  At age 17, she is the second woman of African descent to make the US Olympic swim team.

Lia competed in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay at the 2012 Summer Olympics.  She won the bronze medal on Saturday, July 28, with Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, and Allison Schmitt, behind Australia and the Netherlands.  The team finished with a total time of 3:34:24, an American record.

To learn more about Olympic medalist, Lia Neal, go to her official website. 

Kyla Ross
Gymnastics

Kyla with her parents, Kiana & Jason

 

Kyla was born in Honolulu, Hawai’i and currently lives in Aliso Viejo, California.  Her father, Jason, is Japanese and Black, and her mother, Kiana, is of Filipino and Puerto Rican descent.  Her look reflects the multi-racialism of Hawaii.  “We call it the quadruple effect,” says her father.

Kyla earned the second-highest score on the uneven bars at the 2012 Olympic trials.  Nicknamed “Mighty Mouse,” Ross, 15, is the youngest person on Team USA’s gymnastics roster.  According to the Olympic format, each team selects three gymnasts for each of the four apparatuses in the final – balance beam, uneven bars, vault, and floor.  Kyla performed on the beam and the uneven bars.  On Tuesday, July 31, the US women captured the gold medal with an overall score of 183.596.

To learn more about Olympic medalist, Kyla Ross, go to her official website.

UPDATED
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 

Paige McPherson
Taekwondo

A native of Sturgis, South Dakota, Paige currently resides in Miami, Florida.  Born in Abilene, Texas, she was adopted when she was just four days old.  Her parents also adopted children from South Korea and Saint Lucia.  Paige is half Filipino and half African American (with a little Spanish and Japanese on her Asian side), and she likes to call herself “Blasian”.

Paige is looking forward to her first Olympics after defeating 2004 silver medalist Nia Abdallah to earn a spot on the 2012 roster.  Nicknamed “McFierce”, she is the youngest member of the US national team, having just graduated high school in January 2009.

Since turning 18, Paige has sought to connect with her biological roots.  She has an older brother, who she has already met.  She also has a half-brother and a half-sister, and she has spoken to her biological mother.  Paige plans to meet all of them after the Olympics. 

Paige represented the USA in the 67 kg women’s taekwondo event. In the preliminary round, Paige secured a surprise defeat over Sarah Stevenson of Team Great Britain, 5-1.  She went on to win a bronze medal by defeating Franka Anić of Slovenia 8-3.

UPDATED
Saturday, August 11, 2012 

Selected Sources:
* New America Media, Asian American Athletes Represent U.S. at 2012 Olympics“, July 25, 2012.
* Mas TaeKwonDo, Paige McPherson hopes to bring home a gold medal“, July 25, 2012.
* The Epoch Times,Lia Neal, Olympic Star Rising from Brooklyn“, July 5, 2012.
* The Madeleine Brand Show, SoCal gymnast Kyla Ross brings poise, nerves of steel to London Olympics“, July 11, 2012.

Blasian Olympic Medalists

Bryan Clay

Track & Field

Bryan Ezra Tsumoru Clay – often referred to as the “World’s Greatest Athlete” – was born to a Japanese mother (Michele Ishimoto) and African American father (Greg Clay) and raised in Hawaii. He won the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and went on to win the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Bryan is among the very few decathletes to hold two Olympic medals.

Bryan had his eyes set on a third. He had hoped to become the only decathlete to win three Olympic medals.  Bryan Clay – the reigning Olympic decathlon gold medalist – was eliminated from the London Games after stumbling in the 110-meter hurdles at the U.S. track trials on Saturday, June 23, 2012.

To see him in action, check out this Olympic highlights video of Bryan Clay.

Peter Westbrook

Fencing

The first Blasian American Olympian was Peter Westbrook.  The child of an African American father (Ulysses) and a Japanese mother (Mariko), Peter was harassed by other children because of his mixed race.  His mother paid him $5 to attend local fencing classes.  She wanted to divert his attention to a sport that was similar to the style of Samurai fighting that she was familiar with in Japan.

Peter Westbrook was a member of six American Olympic teams – 1976 in Montreal, 1980 (US boycott of Moscow games), 1984 in Los Angeles, 1988 in Seoul, 1992 in Barcelona, and 1996 in Atlanta.  He won the bronze medal in Individual Sabre at the 1984 Olympics.  In 1992, he was selected to serve as flag bearer for the closing ceremonies, an honor conferred by a vote of that year’s Olympians.  He was the oldest member of the fencing team at the 1996 Olympics.

One of the first prominent biracial fencers and the first African American to medal in fencing, Peter began the Peter Westbrook Foundation in 1991.  The Foundation provides inner city children with access to fencing and works to guide them away from gang activity.  It is hailed as one of the most successful inner city sports programs in the country.

To learn about Peter Westbrook and his not-for-profit organization, visit www.PeterWestbrook.org.

UPDATED
Sunday, July 29, 2012