I've been in Saint Louis for 1 year and have already lost count of how many times I've felt it.
Like most of us in my age range, I'm a hapa with a white name (or.. my dad is white). On paper, if I never told you, I'd appear white. Yet I look very hapa. In California, where this isn't an uncommon thing, people don't seem to have a problem reconciling the hapa look with the white name. In the Midwest, people seem to lack this sort of intelligence.
Bouncers and check-out clerks look at your I.D. just a little too long. Look back and forth a little too often. You can almost read what's going on in their shallow little minds: "Hrm... white name... but he appears 'Asian'" - cuz you know, they don't seem to understand what being hapa is; they only see Black, White, Brown, and Yellow.
You almost want to yell at them: "Hey genius, see those White guys with Asian chicks that you just let in like.. 3 people ago? What the hell do you think their kids would look like?"
But it's about that point where they almost seem to make a connection and back down.
The one time it's happened back home? Another Midwestern transplant in L.A. when I was trying to pick up a bottle of wine after work.
With all the things in the news about the Secret Service, Homeland Security agencies' seeming lack of regard toward their own racism, and their less than stellar staffing, I wonder if - given the right combination of these people on a given day - I'd be "questioned" purely on the basis on my name. Apparently, they have no qualms about beating up innocent Chinese female tourists at Niagara Falls, harassing photographers of color in Seattle, Boston, and Arizona, and creating an atmosphere of fear to encourage distrust between White americans and Americans of color.
- crossposted to hapas