Black Happiness

Yoon Mi-rae, also known as Natasha Shanta Reid, 2007

How were Yoon Mi-rae's experiences growing up shaped by her coming from a biracial family?

Yoon Mi-rae raps that people "said this and said that" behind her back. What kinds of things do you imagine people said? Why?

Compare and contrast Yoon Mi-rae's experiences in the United States and Korea. What does this tell us about how race is seen in these countries?

What is home to Yoon Mi-rae? How does this compare to the way you think of home?

"Black Happiness" performed by Tasha on To My Love, © 2007. Available on Spotify and YouTube.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult the following online resource for lyrics:

http://www.jpopasia.com/lyrics/18352/t/black-happiness.html

Black Happiness
Yoon Mi-rae aka Natasha Shanta Reid.

Yoon Mi-rae (b. 1981) is the daughter of a Korean mother and an African American father. Her parents met while her father, who served in the US Army, was stationed in Korea. She was born in Texas and spent the early part of her life there, and then as a teenager she moved to Korea with her family, where she blossomed as a musician. Her father was a DJ, and Yoon Mi-rae has cited him as an early influence. She became a regular at underground Korean hip-hop clubs. At age sixteen, she debuted under the stage name T (for Tasha) in the hip-hop group Uptown. After Uptown disbanded in 2000 she embarked on a solo career, and she remains a major force in modern Korean popular music, or K-pop.

"Black Happiness" is an autobiographical account of how she felt growing up in a biracial family and working in a society where racism is rampant. In an interview she explains:

  I experienced discrimination from both sides. In the US, I wasn't black enough. In Korea, they called me "Yankee." In primary and middle school, there wasn't a day when I wasn't reminded I was only half Korean. People stared at me. It was really hard. My first label asked me to hide my father's skin color. They told me, "We will say you have far African-American origins." Sometimes stylists tried to make me look "more Korean." Later, when African-American music was the trend, they accepted my darker skin color. I was angry and lost at the same time. I put this anger into my songs. ("Yoon Mi Rae Opens Up")

In the song she recounts how she was taunted and mistreated and how music comforted her. The song alternates between rap in Korean and a softer, more melodic section in English. It also includes the voice of her father, who encourages her to be strong.