Conor Jackson

My mom is Taiwanese, she's from Taipei, and my dad is Irish-American, but I grew up in Queens in an Asian neighborhood. So that makes me Hapa. I like to say Hapa a lot, it's Hawaiian, it means “half Asian.” I’d say in New York, a lot of people’s parents are immigrants. So when it comes to culture, a lot of it comes straight from the source, and the other part is really shaped from where you live in the city and stuff like that. So I’d say it's less of a blend and more of like, two things added together.

There are a lot of mixed people here, but I feel like where I grew up, in my community, I was one of the only mixed people. Like, my friends were all full Asian, and other ethnicities too. I know a lot of mixed people that grew up in white neighborhoods, so that feeling might be different, and their feeling of Asian-ness might be different than mine, but I feel like I always identified strongly with my Asian side just because of the community and stuff like that.

My experiences are different than other Asian people, for sure. It did take some time for me to really accept my racial identity, and I still think about it a lot of times, because I'm mixed, I'm from America, and when I talk to people in Taipei—part of it might be being mixed, part of it might just be growing up in America, but [there are] very clear differences in culture, like the way we think. And I mean, I have a lot of white friends, but I'm definitely the Asian dude when I'm hanging out with white people. That feeling of otherness is still there, it just is what it is.

I feel like a lot of immigrants kind of settle. They accept that America [is racist] and they kinda just deal with it, but since I grew up here, I feel like I'm entitled to respect, cause this is my home too, just as much as anybody else, and I deserve the same amount of feeling of belonging, and sometimes it's just not there. And I feel like I have the right to complain about that.

One thing is like, growing up here, you start picking up patterns and you're very aware of the racial tensions between groups and stuff like that. I grew up in Queens, that's like the most diverse county in the world, and I think we have a culture of really growing to appreciate other people's culture and of finding similarities and sharing that, and so I think it's also very beautiful too.

Mixed [Asian] people do have privilege over a lot of Asian Americans, and I think when you're mixed, you can kind of see that a lot more. And even like [full] Asian people might not see it, and white people, I mean, half the time they deny it. But when you're mixed, you can really see how aspects of being white do have some benefits in society. 

Even in the media, people are more comfortable with mixed people in Hollywood and stuff like that because it removes that foreignness that scares a lot of Americans. You should use that. You should use that privilege to help your people. Asian people, that's your community.