Who is Andrew Wilburn?
Andrew Wilburn grew up in Boise, Idaho with his two parents and sister. His father's side is white and his mother's side is Japanese-American. His great grandparents immigrated to the US from Japan, and were moved to the internment camps during WWII. He's also lived in Seattle, WA and Columbus, OH, where he obtained a Master's degree in education at the Ohio State University. He moved to Cheyenne to work as an academic advisor at Laramie County Community College (LCCC), where he has been for three years. Andrew's passions are for the outdoors, where he likes to rock climb and mountain bike.
Excerpt from interview with Andrew Wilburn by Whitney Dow, 2018
Wilburn: [01:21:28] I think the thing that people need to know about being biracial is it’s really fucked up. It’s really confusing. Because from a young age, you’re told that you’re two things, and in your young mind, it’s like, “Well, that doesn’t really make sense but okay.” Because then based on how you present, people assume, “Oh, you are this or that, or you know this or that,” or then on the other side of the coin, people assume, “Oh, because you look this way, you wouldn’t know anything about this, or that, or the other thing.” Yes. You know to be more specific like at a young age, people are like, “Oh, you’re Japanese, you’re Asian, so you like to eat sushi and you know karate,” and benign things.
But growing older, like I remember we were at Ohio State [University] welcoming this group of Chinese delegates, and I’m talking to this professor about the project and all this. One of the Chinese students from Ohio State walks up and says, “Would you like me to translate,” and the professor was, “Oh, no, that’s fine,” and then puts a hand on my shoulder, “This young man will translate for us.” I remember looking at him and having to—like verbally back and be like, “Hold on, no. I just put this together. I have no idea what language they’re speaking.” And it’s odd because it’s only a long time after that event that I get upset about it, but it’s mostly humorous. Like in my mind, it’s mostly kind of a funny moment. Like, “Oh, isn’t that silly? He thought I was someone who is bilingual or trilingual.” I’m getting away from the point of the question.
Wilburn: [01:24:30] Yes. Yes, and that, you know, on the top of you being biracial, there is—I’ve been pretty lucky because while I do see myself primarily as white, I’ve never thought of myself as vanilla white. Like I said, it’s like white with like sprinkles on top or Asian sprinkles on top.
You know, I say being biracial is fucked up, but I think I’ve also been really lucky because I don’t have a strong pull in either [makes gesture] direction culturally. It’s actually a fact. I did a study on being biracial in grad school. One of the students I talked to, she is Filipina. Her mom is Filipina. Her dad is white. And some of the stories she’s told me, and some of the stories she’s told me since we graduated, it’s been like, “Wow, your life is—being biracial for you is really fucked up.” Because she’ll go back home and culturally, you know, it’s like, “Oh, you’re Filipina, you’re educated, you should get a job, or you stop going to school. You’re going to be too smart to get a husband.” So, a lot of the expectations that are put on her by her immediate family in the Philippines is very weird, and it goes counter to how she’s been raised and educated.