When I first heard Scott Fujita was an NFL player, the first thing I had to do was to find out his story. Of course. I wanted to know if he was one of our people.
Fujita, as you may know, is white and was adopted by a Japanese American man and a white woman.
I was a little disappointed to find out Fujita was white. But then he started impressing me. Talking about his family’s history in the internment camps. Supporting GLBT issues. Speaking out against the Tebow ad.
The dude has got the social justice thing going on. Plus he seems pretty aware.
“When I got traded to Dallas (in 2005), Dat Nguyen was like, ‘Oh man, we got Fujita coming in!'” Fujita recalls of Nguyen, the former Cowboys linebacker who was the first Vietnamese-American to play in the NFL. “We had never met in person. So he comes into the training room to meet me and says, ‘Where is Fujita? No, that can’t be Fujita!'”
For a brief second, Fujita saw disappointment in Nguyen’s eyes.
“I know I am not delusional,” adds Fujita, whose agent, Don Yee, is Chinese-American. “I recognize the fact that I don’t have one single drop of Japanese blood in my body. But I’ve always felt half Japanese at heart.”
Fujita has always followed his heart. The married father of two twin daughters is an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and he and his wife believed so strongly in helping the city of New Orleans that Fujita was the first player to sign under head coach Sean Payton.
But what drives him the most is his grandmother’s fighting spirit. While Lillie doesn’t complain much, she may find herself groaning on Sunday watching a 6-5 white linebacker named Fujita desperately trying stop Peyton Manning. But that’s perfectly fine with her.
So what I take from this is that Fujita draws his identity from his connection to his history and his people. And not to his chopsticks or his Asian art.
Glad to have him in the family.
(Side digression: It’s been my experience that people in mixed families usually learn more of the culture of color if their mom is a woman of color. Any thoughts?)