TRANSRACIAL: Man Born White Claims He’s Filipino

A Florida man who says he was only “born white” claims he’s actually Filipino.

The man no longer goes by his given name, Adam Wheeler. Instead, he prefers “Ja Du.” He also drives a bright purple Tuk-Tuk around the streets of Tampa. A tuk-tuk is a motor bike-pulled “taxi” of sorts in southeast Asia. It’s often used for public transport in the Philippines.

Ja Du says he knows he’s transracial because Filipino culture always intrigued him and he enjoys Filipino food, which he says makes him feel like he’s in his “own skin.”

Apparently, Ja Du thinks it’s more likely to be transracial than for a white person to really like Filipino music and food.

The UK Daily Mail reports:

‘Whenever I’m around the music, around the food, I feel like I’m in my own skin,’ he said to WTSP.

‘I’d watch the history channel sometimes for hours you know whenever it came to that and you know nothing else intrigued me more but things about Filipino culture.’

When pressed about cultural appropriation, or the adopting of other cultures and claiming them as their own, he replied: ‘I believe people will [take advantage] just like other people have taken advantage of their identity to get their way, but the difference between me and them is that I don’t want that.

‘I think that we all have the freedoms to pursue happiness in our own ways.’

When pressed about cultural appropriation, or the adopting of other cultures and claiming them as their own, he replied: ‘I believe people will [take advantage] just like other people have taken advantage of their identity to get their way, but the difference between me and them is that I don’t want that.

‘I think that we all have the freedoms to pursue happiness in our own ways.’

Ja Du might very well feel happy identifying as being from the Philippines. But culture isn’t quite the same as heritage. Ja Du can change his name if he feels like it, and eat all the Filipino food his heart desires. But he’s not from the Philippines.

The Daily Mail tries to get a psychologist’s perspective. “Psychologist Dr. Stacey Scheckner,” the story continues, “wants to make sure that the intention behind the choice to be a different race is a genuine one.”

The phrasing “the intention behind the choice to be a different race” is our first clue that, try as they might to be sensitive, the press doesn’t really take Ja Du seriously. They’re saying here that Ja Du clearly made this choice and it’s not a genuine one. But maybe, just maybe, the “intention” behind the choice is.

Let’s see.

Daily Mail continues:

Psychologist Dr. Stacey Scheckner […] feels it’s okay if it doesn’t bring harm.

‘If someone feels that they feel at home with a certain religion, a certain race, a certain culture, I think that if that’s who they really feel inside life is about finding out who you are. The more knowledge you have of yourself, the happier you can be,’ she said.

‘And, as long as it’s not hurting yourself or anyone else, I don’t see a problem with that.’

So the professional psychologist really has nothing to say about Ja Du’s transracial identity.

She didn’t give expert insight into the psychology of race and “trans” race. Instead, she made an everyday mother’s observation that Ja Du is happy. She doesn’t, however, offer any validity to the notion that race and heritage is just about what people “really feel inside.”

Obviously, as Scheckner points out, different cultures and religions can make people “feel at home.”

Nothing stops a Chinese family from loving their outings to a Mexican restaurant, and religious conversions happen all the time. But Scheckner noticeably refused to admit that being “transracial” can be legitimate. Perhaps because she can’t safely make the claim as a serious psychologist.

Does Scheckner really believe that race is just about what food or music you like and what you drive around town, as Ja Du apparently does?

Let us know what you think, and sound off in the comments below.