07 February 2010

The most interesting thing about Scott Fujita

Scott Fujita (#55) is a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, which is lining up against the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

The most interesting thing about Fujita is his background.

By David Fleming in ESPN magazine
Given up by his birth mother when he was 6 weeks old, Scott was adopted by Helen and Rod Fujita and raised in Camarillo, Calif. Helen, a retired secretary, is white. Rod, a retired high school teacher and coach, is a third generation Japanese-American. He was born inside an Arizona internment camp during World War II.

Many adopted kids grapple to come to terms with who they are and where they came from, especially those raised by parents who don't look like them. But Fujita says he doesn't struggle with his identity, never has. First as a child and now as a football player, his path to success has always been about the same thing: defining for himself who he is. "That's the connection point for Scott," Lillie says. "You choose to be what you are. It's not your location, your obstacles or your skin. You. You choose. He learned that from his family."

Not that he wasn't tested. When his parents took him and older brother, Jason, who was also adopted, to stores, they got the occasional odd looks. Sometimes Scott had to show his ID to substitute teachers who didn't believe that his last name belonged to him. And he ate so much rice with chopsticks that he was 8 before he knew what to do with a baked potato. But he shrugged off most of it, confident in thinking of himself as half Japanese at heart. To his dad, it was even simpler: "American, Japanese. To me he's always just been my son."

Every Jan. 1, the Fujitas celebrated Shogatsu, Japanese New Year's. Every May 5, Rod would raise a koi flag on a bamboo pole in the backyard in honor of the Japanese national holiday of Kodomo-no-hi (Children's Day). But because Rod had become, as he says, "Americanized," most of Scott's knowledge of Japanese culture came from Lillie and Nagao, Scott's grandfather.

See also
- New York Times, 2010 February 2
- Huffington Post, 2009 October 6

Most people are naturally curious about other people's names, particularly if they don't look the part. There are always stories that challenge assumptions.

Given that migration from other places go back many generations, it shouldn't be surprising what anybody looks like. In Australia, Josh Quong Tart is a young actor in a television soap, descended from Mei Quong Tart - for people who don't know the history of Sydney, he is probably forever explaining his name.

With the United States 2010 Census coming up on 1 April, it would be interesting how Scott would respond to the question (9) about race. Ultimately it shouldn't matter, but the question needs to be asked in order to measure the level of discrimination in the provision of services, in employment and housing etc.

As for the Super Bowl, Go Saints!


liz888 said...

Stating race on govt forms is not only for claculating discrimination in provision of services. It is an important factor in the demographics of diseases and delivery of healthcare.

Daniel said...

That was my etc.