JANM Show Looks at Mixed Ancestry

JANM Show Looks at Mixed Ancestry

Los Angeles Downtown News

Richard Guzmán

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – The very title of the new Japanese American National Museum exhibit indicates the complex factors at play in a single community.

The show, Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History, examines the diverse history of the Japanese American community as well as the still evolving notion of family and race. It opened April 7 and continues through Aug. 25 at the Little Tokyo museum.

Through photos, videos, artifacts and paintings, the shows traces the history of mixed-race Japanese American families — hapa is a term for a person of mixed race who is part Asian or Pacific Islander — going back to the late 1800s. It also looks at the challenges these families faced due to segregation and laws that criminalized mixed race marriages.

It’s a history, said Duncan Williams, the exhibit co-curator, that is often plainly visible in the faces of biracial individuals. However, he said the topic is also invisible, since it is rarely discussed in open forums.

“One of the major points we’re trying to make is that increasingly the Japanese American community is changing,” said Williams, who is also director of the USC Center for Japanese Religion and Culture.

He said that by the next U.S. Census in 2020, it is expected that more than half of the members of the Japanese American community will identify themselves as multiracial…

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