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Broadening the Definition of Amerasians

July 11, 1991

Re "He Looks Like Me" (July 7): Although it was heartening to see an article about Amerasians in View, I was disappointed that The Times offered a narrow definition.

The term Amerasian was coined by Pearl Buck to refer to half-Japanese and half-Korean children born either in or out of wedlock during the U. S. occupation of Japan and after the Korean Conflict.

The term referred to all multiracial Asians, whether their American half was Anglo, African-American or Latino. Unfortunately, American society has taken almost 40 years to catch up with Buck. Not until after the Vietnam War was this society able to grasp the reality of an Amerasian. Often, American racism adds insult to this injury by excluding from their understanding those Amerasians whose fathers are not Anglos.

As the president of the Amerasian League, I would like to share some history with you:

* Not all Amerasians are part Vietnamese.

* The Amerasian diaspora began in Japan as a result of World War II.

* Amerasians continue to be born in the Philippines and Okinawa (basically, wherever the U. S. military is based).

* Not all Amerasians are refugees or in search of their fathers. Many of us are born into nuclear families. Many are born in the United States.

Your reporter is correct, however, in saying that we are "strangers from another time." This is true whether we are born in Asia or in America. This is because we are eternally binational, bicultural and multiracial, and we must balance the depth of our ties with our Asian mother countries with our fascination with our American fatherland. That never ceases to be a strange and curious process.

VELINA HASU HOUSTON

President

The Amerasian League

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