Hammering Out Sparks from the Anvil…


I’ve been meaning to blog on this for quite some time, ever since Dennis Prager brought this New York Times article to my attention over 2 years ago.

Take a look at the photo at the top. Is there anything strikingly odd about the photo? What do you see? I see a “ridiculous” little Asian boy pretending to be a cowboy, and proud of wearing the get-up. I say “ridiculous”, because, of course, there weren’t really any Asian cowboys out in the Wild West. If anything, I should be playing the part of an Injun. But back then, at the time, I didn’t feel ridiculous. I thought I looked like Robert Conrad.

I was born in 1968, Phoenix, Arizona. My ethnicity? Thai. Beyond that, I have no knowledge of my birth heritage and biological parents, as I was given up for adoption. I do know that whatever the circumstances around my birth mother’s pregnancy, she loved me enough to carry me through 9 months to be delivered right away into the loving home of a young Air Force fighter pilot, wed to a Japanese woman in 1964 while stationed overseas. I couldn’t have been blessed with a more stable home or asked for more loving parents.

My parents never kept my adoption a secret from me. I’ve known all my life that I was adopted, so it never seemed strange to me. I do admit, however, that in college, it did begin to occur to me what a unique experience mine might be; and earlier in my pre-teens, I know I was self-conscious when visiting relatives (on my dad’s side….which consequently also affected my feelings when around my relatives from my mom’s side) in California of the fact that I was not blood-related to people who seemed to offer me unconditional acceptance and love. Still, it couldn’t erase the feeling that in a “skin-deep” sense, I didn’t belong. And it had nothing to do with how my relatives treated me. One of the experiences that really meant a lot to me was when my grandpa introduced me to his nurse as his grandson. My Dad and I had flown out to visit him in the hospital, because he didn’t have much longer to live. My grandfather was a short thin man; a fisherman and a cusser who was known as “Firpy” (my dad inherented the nickname) because in his youth he was scrappy (I believe there was a boxer named “Firpo”). He was not the kind of grandfather you felt comfortable to be bounced upon, on his knee, and run up to for hugs.

The reason why it was a healing experience to hear him tell the nurse that I was his grandson, was that a few years earlier, my mom in a moment of bitterness, told me the story of how Grandpa Phirpy apparently said to my Dad before he shipped to Japan, “I don’t care what you do over there, but don’t you dare marry a Japanese lady. If you do, I’ll disown you.” My dad said, “Alright”. But of course, things turned out different. And no, apparently he didn’t get disowned. But it was another experience in my maturation toward dealing with racism on a personal level.

My earliest memory of being race-conscious, was one day when I was about 4 or 5 living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My mom took me to check out Tinkerbell Kindergarten. It must have been an open-house or something. I went out on the playground where two boys were playing on the monkey bars. They basically told me to go away and I couldn’t play there with them; they used racial slurs to reject me. Back then, children used to take their thumbs to stretch the corners out to mock those with “slant eyes”. I don’t see kids doing that these days. It was one of those experiences that began to shape my consciousness that there was something physically different about me from other “Americans”; that I didn’t physically resemble Robert Conrad. And I began to take a closer look in the mirror, to see what others were seeing that I had failed to see.

As a footnote, one of the two boys, Richard, became my best friend and neighbor when we moved into the house across the street. Subsequently, because of that, the other kid, Butch, grew to accept me, too. They were the first ones to teach me a rhyme involving the “N” word. In a moment of ignorant innocence and stupidity, I asked Dad, “Do you want to hear something funny?” And I told him the rhyme. He asked me to repeat it. I think even then, even without the incredulous tone of disbelief in his voice, I knew that I had said something bad. And as young as I was, 5 maybe, I am sure I was conscious of what that word was related to. Richard and I had sang it, while sitting in a car, watching an elderly black man getting into his car. I was ignorant of what I was saying, and yet, part of me I think was consciously aware, and not so blissfully ignorant.  My dad told me to never, ever say those words again.  I didn’t get spanked, but the verbal berating and the gravity in his tone of voice really made me feel ashamed.

My first girlfriend was in kindergarten. She was the only other Asian at Tinkerbell. Basically, she gave me no say in the matter of our relationship, and simply said, “You’re mine. I own you.” And I went along with it. Every recess, I had to pretend I was Little Joe (Michael Landon) from Bonanza. I still wanted to be James West, though.

I have a vague recollection of Bruce Lee from when I was really, really little. He must have been big, for me to have known about him without having actually seen any of his movies. Back then, and later when the Kung Fu TV series came out, if you were Oriental, you were expected to know karate chops and kung fu. The only Asian hero I remember who “looked like me” when I was young, was Ultraman‘s alter ego, Science Patrol member Hayata. It came on in South Carolina, translated from the Japanese series, during the afternoon, hosted by a pretty woman called “Happy Rain”, dressed like an Indian. Other than Hayata, all of my heroes and role models growing up, the G.I. doll toys I played with, the T.V. and movie stars, were white male figures. When Star Trek was on, I didn’t want to be Lt. Sulu. I wanted to be Captain James T. Kirk, dammit.

Multiculturalists would tell the four year-old boy in the photo that he was being white-washed. They would tell the 40 year old blogger hammering this post out on his keyboard, that he is a twinkie: White on the inside, yellow on the out. If I were black, maybe I’d be an Uncle Tom and a sellout. I spent 6 years of my college time living with two of my teammates, who were brothers. They also happened to be middle-class black, from Alburqurque. One day, a student asked Greg, the younger brother, if he had been to any ASU meetings, lately. He replied that, “Yeah, we’ve been out there; we compete there sometimes.” (My roommates and I were on the gymnastics team- the older brother, Chainey, eventually making the ’96 U.S. Olympic Team). The guy who asked Greg the question just shook his head and thought my roommate was so out of touch because Greg thought he meant had he been to Arizona State University; but what he really was asking is, had Greg attended any African Student Union group meetings.

UCLA is heralded as diverse and multicultural. That might be. But rather than a melting pot, half of what I saw were self-segregationists. On my way to class, down Bruin Walk, I could see the Chinese Student Union members mingling at the steps of Kerkhoff Hall; on the other side, ASU members hung out together. I attended one Pilipino student group meeting, and found myself turned off by the rhetoric of activism, which had an “Us vs. Them” mentality of persecution. I, as a non-Filipino, felt alienated because I didn’t identify myself through my skin-color. They didn’t know this, and probably thought I fit right in, due to my shared Malay heritage.

In college, I largely slept-walked (is that even a phrase? Does it matter? It is one now…) through student political activism and consciousness. That is probably a good thing, because even though my father always voted Republican, I was not “overtly” raised on conservative values and principles. My dad is not particularly political. He never really told me “You should think this way, you should not think that way” when it came to political thought. So, really, I was pretty ripe pickings for liberal indoctrination. It happened to some degree. Being an English major, I read a number of modern American literature focused on issues of multiculturalism and racism, with teachers to match. My poly sci professor came to class in tie-dye and Grateful Dead concert t-shirts, jeans, and sandals. He was a Marxist.

Liberalism was all around me, and somehow I was innoculated from much of the “damaging”, “brainwashing” effects, even without understanding and being exposed to conservative ideology.

It was only after 9/11, that my political conservative gene was activated. The events of 9/11 shaped my political identity and forced me to exercise a voice in the political direction that this country heads into. Responsibility for the future rests with each of us. I realize now, that there are no sidelines. No fence-sitting. Politics is vital to shaping our values, upholding our traditions, and steering the direction that our country heads into, in a post-9/11 world.

Going back to the NYTimes article….

My opinion is strictly my own and I do not pretend to speak for every person adopted by parents of a different ethnicity. That being said, I strongly disagree with the parents who feel it is necessary to force cultural heritage studies upon a child, based upon the child’s ethnic makeup and native culture. Especially if the child expresses non-interest. The Chinese adopted girls do not need to be raised to know intimately, Chinese culture. What they do need to be raised on, are American heritage, American values, American traditions. The adoptive parents are misguided if they feel obligated to give their child a Chinese name and raise a Chinese kid. What they need to do, is they need to raise an American kid and impart the knowledge, traditions, heritage, family history, religious beliefs, that they are familiar with.

My college roommates are now both doctors. They did not embrace Afrocentrism and black separatist nationalism. Nor have they been white-washed simply because they speak perfectly good English, have kept their “slave names”, and embrace and contribute to mainstream American society. That is not being “a sell out”. It’s participating in the American dream. It is enjoying the fruits of their labor in the land of golden opportunities. A country where any citizen regardless of race, gender, or class can grow up to become president.

Diversity is our strength; assimiliation, the glue that binds us all together. E(x) pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

Multiculturalism, as it is preached today, is not about celebrating the beauties of other cultures and appreciating mixed heritages. In the hands of leftists, it is about separatism and narcissism. It is the selfish need to replace already established American values and traditions with one’s native values and traditions. All cultures are not equal, when it comes to the historical shaping and founding of America. I am neither Jew, nor Christian; but I fully acknowledge and appreciate that it is what is commonly referred to as our Judeo-Christian values that enables us to tolerate, welcome, and embrace all other cultural heritages. That is at the core of America. When immigrating to this country, the core must be adopted. It is up to immigrants who wish to be American to adapt to American customs and values; not the other way around. Otherwise, we will dissolve into a nation of many nations and many people. Not one nation and one people. I am all for adding one’s unique cultural flavor to the mix; but I am not for replacing the established American “core” culture with one’s own.

So, who do you now see when you look at the photo at the top?

I see a young boy who will grow up secure in his own identity; who acknowledges his ethnic roots, but is not bound to it by the divisiveness of race and skin color. I see my past which came to shape my present.

And here I am, a proud and grateful American.

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans!

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Sending you a virtual hug, Wordsmith!

Oh, and you have my vote for President 🙂

Thank you for your story…..
Right back at you my fellow American.. God Speed…
Wonderful Story, and to be honest…
I just saw a little boy who wanted to be a cowboy… 🙂

Says it all

I see a young boy who will grow up secure in his own identity; who acknowledges his ethnic roots, but is not bound to it by the divisiveness of race and skin color. I see my past which came to shape my present.

And here I am, a proud and grateful American.

Thats something we all hope to achieve in raising our own children.

Great stuff Word! As usual.

I have no idea what you’re talking about, Wordsmith. Why to me, you look *exactly* like Robert Conrad! :0)

But then, it all depends on who’s looking, eh? Are they looking at the outside, or the innards?

The burning question is… did either of those childhood convert friends, who started “confused” by your physical projection, end up being an adequate Artemis??

proud to be a 2nd generation un-hypenated American

I’ve read many blogs today, but this post ranks at the top along with this one: http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/ Many thanks for sharing!

The photo clearly shows that you had Flopping Aces ambitions long before there was a Flopping Aces, let alone the internet!

You don’t look any different to me in your cowboy outfit than I’m sure I looked at about the same age running around in my Hopalong Cassidy outfit with six shooters on both hips.

I am old enough to remember when we played with everyone who was our age and lived in our neighborhood. Parents might have had their self-segregationist attitudes, but we were more interested in who could hit the baseball best, or who could give you a good go at jacks, or best of all, who was good at double jump rope.

Although my school wasn’t all that diverse, being in a small town in Western Pennsylvania, it was open-minded. We had a large Jewish population and the rest were mostly descendants of Welsh Quakers and fiery Scots-Irish Presbyterians. We all wanted to be Jewish because the Jewish kids got more days off for holidays than the rest of us did. We all participated in singing Christmas or Easter songs in school assemblies. We didn’t think of them as religious, just what you sang for those holidays. Tradition.

Quite different was where I went to camp every Summer. Camp was a melting pot of kids of all races, religions, and ethnicities. Again, though, they were campers, they were not defined by all the other things.

Diversity was never emphasized. The whole idea of the American way of life, the American dream was blending in and carrying on the traditions. My Mother told me the story of Mrs. Gruenwald, a neighbor of hers when she was 7 or 8. Another neighbor made a disparaging remark about Mrs. Gruenwald being one of those “Germans,” leaving no doubt in a young girl’s mind that being “one of those Germans” was a very bad thing. (It was WWI) She went home and told her Mother she should never talk to Mrs. Gruenwald again because she was “one of those.” She told me how her Mother explained that Mrs. Gruenwald was a lovely American lady and she would be treated with the respect due her. She explained that although Mrs. Gruenwald had a German sounding name, she was as American as my Mom. Issue settled.

So, I remember my shock when I was starting my first job and I came on a young black gal who started the same day as I did. She had a giant chip on her shoulder and was always complaining how she didn’t fit in, that they wanted her to “play white,” and she wasn’t going to give in. I know I gave her a totally blank look, I had no idea what she was talking about. To me, she was another newbie, someone to hang out with as another newbie. To me, we were a team by virtue of our inexperience and first day on the job jitters. To her, I was the enemy. And it seems things have gone downhill since. Now there is so much emphasis on diversity, we are losing sight of our national identity as Americans. I find it very worrisome.

PS: My favorite book as a toddler was “Little Black Sambo.” I would make my Aunt read it over and over and I would be so worried about Little Black Sambo every time that the tigers didn’t get him and cheer when they turned to butter. Imagine my surprise 25 years later to find out it is considered a racist book. To me the bad actors in the book were the tigers, I know they scared the heck out of me. I spent several years of childhood making my Dad check under my bed every night and chase any tigers away that might be hiding there. Little Black Sambo was the hero, the little boy who took on tigers. I wanted to be brave like he was, just like I wanted to be a cowboy like Hopalong and Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring when I watched “Howdy Doody.” I didn’t know about how my heros and heroines were some kind of insult to the diversity crowd. I was just a normal American kid.

The Y-chromosome contains 86 genes, which make you male. The upshot of this is that you are more closely related to any male on the planet, than you are to any female; simply, you are more closely related to me, Desmond Tutu, Obama, Bruce Lee, Jackie Mason than you are to your own mother, sister or daughter.
Race is fake, there are no races, only poly-chromic, poly-morphic people.


Thank you so much for your post.

It was a fun to hear a little bit of your childhood. I, too, was raised in SC so I know exactly who “Happy Rain” and Ultraman are. I hadn’t thought of them in years. What pleasant childhood memories.

You and I come from very different ethnic backgrounds but we both share the incredibly special gift of adoption.

My parents adopted me when I was 6 months old and kept the adoption quiet. When I was 14, because they feared that someone would tell me out of spite, they told me themselves.

To this day, I wish that they hadn’t.

I was devastated by it.

The thought that everything I knew up to that point was not really what I thought it was threw me for a huge loop. Add in the early stages of puberty and all of the things that go with that and you’ve got a mix of rather interesting emotional issues.

My parents told me during the summer. I remember it because a couple of days later I went to stay with at my grandparents’ farm for a month. Granny and Pappy knew what was going on and they gave me a place to escape from it.

One evening at about 11pm Granny joined me on the swing in the back yard. I had been at their house for two weeks or so and I was still trying to sort things out. I have to admit that my progress was not going very well.

After a few minutes of sitting on the swing with me Granny began to talk to me about what was going on. I don’t remember everything she said but I remember this part vividly: “Adopted children are twice as special because they are chosen.”

Granny and Pappy are both gone now, but her words, her tender voice, and that reassuring arm around my shoulders remain very clear in my mind.

Those words, coupled with the knowledge that I was surrounded by unconditional love and limitless acceptance got me through that rough time period in my life.

To this day, over 26 years later I have never asked my parents any questions. There is no need. I don’t want to know.

My parents are my parents and I am who I am.

They raised me.

They, along with my very large extended family, made me a part of them.

There is a packet of information in a safe deposit box if I ever want or need it but I cannot foresee any reason why I will ever put my hands on it.

Again, thank you for your post.

21st Century liberalism has decayed into a catalyst for political power-seeking rather than a movement that encourages open-mindedness, equality, and the rights of all people.

Great piece Word!

Thank you Sara for your post. You put into words just what I think and feel.
My Grandaughter visited recently. We watched a ‘Disney’ movie with her, and were shocked at the political implications. It was not just entertainmeint. It covered race, environment, diversity , endangered species etc. At the end the Government came to the rescue solving the problem by providing housing, food and all the necessities of a ‘good’ life.
No wonder our young people are so angry, and can not think for themselves. They are taught from the cradle up.

We watched a ‘Disney’ movie with her, and were shocked at the political implications. It was not just entertainmeint. It covered race, environment, diversity , endangered species etc. At the end the Government came to the rescue solving the problem by providing housing, food and all the necessities of a ‘good’ life.

Which movie was this?


I loved WWW too. But as the future engineer, I also thought Artimis was pretty darn clever.

Now, my dad was career Air Force, and didn’t indoctrinate me, but (and I am 40 also) I remember agruing with a childhood friend telling him that Carter was an idiot, and that Reagan would do much better. WTF is wrong with conservative parents that they think they shouldn’t teach their politcal values to their kids? Pre-emptive surrender? It does make them ripe pickings for the Marxists. I am stunned that anyone would need 9/11 to turn conservative, at least not without feeling damn silly.

LOL I was the same way (I’m 42)…my parents didn’t give me any “formal” political instruction, but I picked up on their conservatism. They were of the Depression/WW2 generation, but they started having children late. Interestingly my older siblings (two brothers and a sister) all went through their “rebel” period in their teens, but mine didn’t come until my late twenties when I started voting Democrat for a while. All my siblings are now pretty conservative as well. I remember my middle brother, who was and still is into rock and roll, parroting Bruce Springsteen on Reagan and saying things like “rock and roll is going to change the world.” I was actually shocked when I realized how conservative he’d gotten.

I hated Carter. Hated him with a passion. The day Reagan took office I was 14, and it was one of the best days of my life. I felt hope and pride in America, and Reagan didn’t disappoint. I was proud to cast my first vote for his reelection.


I didn’t notice that the little boy was asian…I just thought it was strange that he was wearing such wild wild pants instead of proper levis…!

Enjoyed the post, Word, and glad you’re one of us. Someone else’s loss.

Great post Word.

I grew up in a small town close to St. Louis. We lived out i the country, so really I had my brothers to paly with most of the time, my closest friend was probably 5 miles away. I was brought up Catholic and though that everyone was Catholic, so it is wierd to see the Catholic Church picked upon so much now.

My family is very diverse. Mostly they are consrvatives, but I do have a couple very liberal relatives. Even so, we are mostly a close family and live across the whole country.

As I have said in other posts, my heritage is very diverse. My Grandma’s family on my mom’s side have been in America since close to the time of the Mayflower. Then my grandparent’s on my dad’s side came straight from Poland.

I am Polish most from my dad, but also got German, Dutch, Lithianian, Irish, Scotch Irish, English, most likely African (Jamacain), mostl likely Mongoalian (Ghinges Kan liked to rape and pillage Poland), Norwegian, and probably a little bit of everything else you can think of in me. SO all the hyphenated American BS is a total wash with me. I do not fit in with any one certain heritage. I am a muttt, just like the Melting Pot that is America.

I am related to Linda tripp from a relative that helped form New Hampshire a long time ago. I am related to T.S. Elliot. I am related to one of the worst presidents ever, Harding, which some people think his parents were octoroons (1/8 Jamacain.)

My grandma had written a book about or ancestors and our heritage, and my mom and aunt are keeping with it. We actually have the towns and areas where many of our families came from in Europe.

But as an American, it is good to know our heritage and where you came from, but I am an American first and foremost. And I have found that no matter what race, creed, color, gender, all Americans are special. They are all part of a great experiment we call self-government. That experimnmet is not to catoregize or split us up into groups, it is to join together and form that “Perfect Union”. Divided We fall, Together we Stand.

I want to thank you for writing this great post. It is a testament to what America is. Not adopted or anything of that sort, but that you are an American and that is what makes you special and everyone that lives here special, even if they think that or not.

Awwwww Word 🙂

You made a cute little cowboy 🙂

It’s a cute photo.

But can he DANCE?


I’m sure glad you linked to this today Word, I was out of town for awhile in July and completely missed it. I’ve read part of it(up to your dad scolding), great-grandson isn’t cooperating, so I’m going to stick it in my favorites for later this evening.

Good thing you didn’t decide to wait another two years, I would have had nothing to do tonight.

If you had not linked – I would have missed out

Nicely done


I think your story is great. My family is very diverse, I guess that’s why I am sensitive to racism. I like you, you seem very kind, and open to talk to people with different views. I like how you can reason, and see what someone might be saying, even if you don’t agree. You should be in politics, you would do well. Have a nice day and again it was nice debating with you.

From one cowboy to another, thanks.

Tom Mix was one of my favorites, he always was careful to straighten his hair after knocking someone out, showed class and pride in appearance. My hair has always looked like a haystack.

I never quit wearing my western duds, but I don’t pack a rifle unless I am in the mountains.

A great story, thanks again.

Word, thank you for great writing this am.

fabulous for 2008 summer,
I wonder if you are better today, after the today last POST,
also fabulous,
the only change FROM THE LITTLE COWBOY is the MUSCLES on your arms,
GEEZ I’M GLAD someone drive me in 2008 so I could read this POST OF YOU.
I like you because of those two POSTS,
BEFORE I thought you where against HOMOPHOBIA, and not making the difference between it and common sense,
but I understand now, AND I LIKE YOU. and your POSTS

Word, when I am feeling low, I will sometimes read this article. It lifts me up for some reason.

My son was a gymnast, for a few years.

He started late, it was because my family came down from BC to be with me for the winter months, while I worked Southern California. We took the kids to an intra-mural gymnastics class to keep them occupied. During his first class, the instructors were testing the students and one of the exercises was to stand on your hands.

He stood up, walked around the basketball court they were on and proceeded to walk up the stairs of the gym and back down. The instructors came over to me and said he needed to be tested by a real coach, because he displayed unusual abilities.

When we were back home, I looked for gymnastics coaches, there were none. I ended up taking him to Calgary.

They wanted him in their program immediately. I sold out and bought a small ranch South of Calgary, to give my son the advantages he deserved.

A few years later, he cracked his heels and had to quit, but that is why my children are urbanites instead of hicks like me. I cringed while watching him compete; I could feel my shoulders wanting to dislocate when he did the Iron Cross and other moves, but I never mentioned my fears.

After gymnastics he became a boxer; again, I had apprehensions from knowing what can go wrong. I prayed he wouldn’t go pro.

A divorce, money, and international tax issues plagued me for years, but now at the end, I just want to go back to my roots. In my heart, I am still like the kid in the plaid trousers, only I never grew up.

one thought came while reading again your POST AND THE COMMENTS, it is to me extraordinary, that we find out we are all only the group of HUMAN OF GOOD WILL EXCHANGING NOTE AND KNOWLEDGE,
AT DEGREES SO DIFERENTS FROM EACH ONE , at knowledge so diferents from each other,
at life experiences so diferents from each other, at ages so diferents from each other,
and yet we are in a happy time here at FLOPPING ACES, FORGETTING OUR PERSONAL LIVES,

my friends farmer just came back from THE NORTH WEST TERRITORY,
where they married their 2 daughters, they went by plane and horse back for quite many miles,
and while the marriage was in progress outdoor in their favorite place they had wish on to marry,
who showed up? yes a grizzly bear, they watch him going around, and he left and came back 3 more times,
I think he was eyeing the many horses, which are usualy on a few miles down.
and to add to it, there was a moose on my front door yesterday evening, he came from the woods in the back,

@ilovebeeswarzone: Thanks for the images of home.

wow am I impress by your comment,
a true AMERICAN YOU ARE FOR SURE, YOUR LOVE OF YOUR country is right out to see,
and I admire you very much even for that only one comment in 2008,
I am in your future here, when do you plan to visit us again,
we , at FLOPPING ACES, would be bless by your love of THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICA,

grow up to 2014 NOW, i”ll be there showing you around, MY FRIENDS,

It is worth while enduring all the ignorant post of the left just to read this post. Thank you Word!

It was that time again, a little over a year. Things are piling up, but your pureness of spirit will help me through another night.

Of all the mean things that have been fired at me in verbal assaults, your correction of the word Jap was the most memorable. I grew up listening to the word and using it freely; oh, I was duly embarrassed at the time, and your correction will stay with me forever. You my have forgotten, but not me.