Ja Du considers himself transracial, which refers to someone who was born one race but identifies as another.
How did this happen? Ja Du says he grew up enjoying Filipino food, events and culture. He even drives a purple Tuk Tuk, an Asian-inspired vehicle used for public transit in the Philippines, he told 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," Ja Du told the WTSP.
Ja Du said he has yet to tell his family about considering himself Filipino; he believes they will laugh at the idea of someone changing their ethnicity.
However, Dr. Stacey Scheckner, a licensed psychologist with a B.A. from Washington University and an M.A. and doctorate from Florida State, said that while she has never had a client who wants to change his ethnicity, it shouldn’t be considered as a radical notion.
"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," Sheckner told WTSP. "And as long as it's not hurting yourself or anyone else, I don't see a problem with that."
Scheckner said Ja Du’s family should try to understand why he feels the way he does, and that they should not find fault with him for identifying as Filipino.
“I think before we get offended, we need to take a step back and think about what is the harm,” she said.
Ja Du isn't the first transracial case to gain national attention. Rachel Dolezal was born white but saw herself as black and led her life as a black woman. She even became the president of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP.
Dolezal's appearance on "Dr. Phil" brought the term "transracial" to a wider audience, and now WTSP reports they have found a growing community of such people that have connected on Facebook.
Ja Du said he isn’t identifying as Filipino for any reason other than it being how he identifies in his heart.
“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,” Ja Du said. “I think that we all have the freedoms to pursue happiness in our own ways.”