Yes, only a few times, fortunately.
The first, was of course, in my hometown of Kingsburg, twenty miles south of Fresno. Nobody in town would cut our hair, until we reached junior high. My Dad became friends with a great Slavic fellow through the Lions Club. He offered to cut my hair, my brother’s, and my Dad’s.
There were always a few punks and bullies in junior high and high school, most of whom are now deceased, or became law enforcement officers. They used many slang terms, not just on me, but other students of color.
By the time I got to UC Berkeley, I discovered an interesting social phenomenon. Each of the ethnic groups on campus “hung out” together, mostly in famous Dwinelle Plaza. It was new to me, but I quickly found a group to join.
My fraternity at UOP was truly the first organization I joined that was “color blind.” Asian frat brothers were both numerous, and in leadership positions.
Into adulthood, discrimination became less frequent, perhaps since I was a health professional. But socially, there were times when I did feel out of place. Where would this be? Places like certain churches, Elks Clubs, and even some professional organizations.
Have you ever had a loaded gun pointed at you? I did, back in the 80s, while on a long job around the Anaheim Disneyland area. After about a 5-mile run, I was cooling off, and entered a souvenir shop not far from the Magic Kingdom. When I walked out the door, a cop had his gun pointed at me and told me not to move! I asked him why, he told me to “shut up!’ I asked if I should raise my hands, with no response. I asked why, and he said to shut up. Finally, he I tried to rob the store. My response, in my jogging clothes, sweaty from a 5-mile run? Finally, the clerk inside the store said he forgot to disarm the silent alarm. The cop let me go. I asked for an apology and he told me to get lost! I called his a few F words, and got no response. I went to his partner in the squad car, and he just shrugged. I wrote a long letter to the Chief and got nowhere.
Over the years, the only event I can recall being the only person of color was at a wedding in Southern California, at a very high-end country club. I was not uncomfortable, but I did realize the composition of the event. It was an otherwise wonderful wedding of dear friends.
Last Fall, I attended a family wedding in the South. I was perhaps a novelty for some of those people, as somehow, I became a somewhat memorable character. Why? I tried to give them a good dose of family history and Japanese culture.
Have I ever been denied a job or entrance to an elite university? Probably. Do I think the world is a better place from post Pearl Harbor when my parents were uprooted and sent to Relocation Camps in god-forsaken deserts and swamps? That requires some thought, since it appears history is repeating itself in various ways.