Masami Usui and Miles Xian Liu
Velina Avisa Hasu Houston was born on May 5, 1957, in Tokyo, Japan, as the second child of an African Native American (Blackfoot) father, Lemo Houston, from Linden, Alabama, and a Japanese mother, Setsuko Takechi, from Matsuyama, Ehime, a provincial town in Shikoku Island. Identifying herself as “an Amerasian,” Houston is one of the children born of the many interracial couples during the U.S. occupation of Japan after World War II. Setsuko first met Lemo in 1946 in Kobe, whose international port played an important role for the U.S. occupation. Lemo returned to the United States in 1949 and then served in the Korean War in 1951. Setsuko and Lemo married after nine years of courtship, but Satsuko’s father committed suicide partially because of her relationship with Lemo. In 1959, Houston moved to the United States with her parents, elder sister Hilda Rika Hatsuyo, and adoptive elder brother Joji Kawada.
After a temporary stay with Lemo’s family in New York, the Houstons settled in Junction City, Kansas, as Lemo was transferred to nearby Fort Riley. He died in 1969 of combat-related stress and alcoholism. Houston stayed there with her mother and sister until her mother remarried. Because both Setsuko and Lemo cut their family ties when they married, Houston was brought up primarily within a sphere of her immigrant mother’s lifestyle, with little influence of American culture from any extended family. Her brother Joji disappeared in 1984 and lost contact with Houston until 1999. Houston’s childhood and adolescence experiences were shaped by her family’s destiny—being entirely rejected and harshly discriminated against by the Japanese and Americans both inside and outside her extended families. She experienced firsthand the racial prejudices of whites, blacks, and Asians. Her Amerasian heritage in predomi-