The evolving names come from whatever context I feel I am in, and what I think I should do in the moment, considering the effect. It is not only about what Americans prioritize—a moment “self expressing” a “true self,” an individualistic sort of alienated, internal Christianized idea of a self, cut-off from everything but itself. However, I also am not following what is common in most East Asian cultures, where the self is more in constant relation to family, friends and social circumstances, as well as obligations, than in global north western cultures. I’d like to think that when I make decisions about what I’m putting forward, there are elements of both, but also more: my commitments to social change and social justice.
When I know that the questioner is someone who seems to question life, and may have some resources for, and interested in social change and social justice, I’ll respond differently from a complete stranger, although it would depend as well on what I intuit as to what difference it would make if I responded one way or another. In any case, I want to disturb the status quo. But not all the time. It is also interesting when people would ask me why I don’t answer “Japanese-American” or “Asian-American.” And then the questions of “mixed race” identity come up.