‘Half Asian’? ‘Half White’? No — ‘Hapa’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-16 01:37Z by Steven

‘Half Asian’? ‘Half White’? No — ‘Hapa’

National Public Radio
Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity

Alex Laughlin, Social Media Journalist
National Journal

She was tall and freckled, with long, dark hair — and we stood out in the same way. As I leaned in to say hi, she yelled over the din, “You’re hapa, aren’t you?” It was the last word I expected to hear in D.C., but I welcomed the refreshing respite from the constant and inevitable question: “What are you?”

What am I? This is what they’re really asking here: What is the particular racial mix that created you? Because YOU don’t fit into a single box in my mind, and that confuses me.

I’m half Korean and half white, and it’s usually easier to just leave it there. If I were to volunteer my identity though, I would tell you I’m hapa.

Hapa is a Hawaiian pidgin word used to describe mixed-race people — primarily, though not exclusively, those who are half white and half Asian. It’s short for hapalua, the Hawaiian word that literally means “half” — and it originated as a derogatory term toward mixed-race children of plantation guest workers from the Philippines, Korea, China and Japan, and the women they married in Hawaii in the early part of the 20th century

…Artist Kip Fulbeck lived in Hawaii for several years, and he remembers a more keen awareness of racial and cultural differences among nonwhites than on the mainland.

“If I’m living in Hawaii and playing pickup basketball,” he said, “they’ll say ‘Hapa haole, throw me the ball!’ or ‘Hey, buddhahead! Hey, kimchi!'”…

…In 2000, Fulbeck started taking photos of hapa people and inviting them to identify themselves in their own words. The collection of photographs grew into the Hapa Project, a multiracial identity project encompassing traveling exhibits, presentations and a published book: Part Asian, 100% Hapa. He has photographed thousands of people for the project, and the community surrounding it remains lively online…

Read the entire article here.

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‘I’m proud of my African heritage’

Posted in Africa, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2014-12-16 01:15Z by Steven

‘I’m proud of my African heritage’

The Korea Times

Kim Se-jeong

Top award winner Park Ji-han says taekwondo changed him

When Park Ji-han was in his first year at elementary school, his classmates called him “African shala shala” because of his background and because he spoke Arabic.

Now, a decade later, the handsome youth’s nickname is “walking statue.” The high school sophomore stands about 179 centimeters tall, and he has chiseled features that could stare down any K-pop star or actors for that matter.

The change speaks volumes about how much Park, 17, went through as a young boy and how far he has come. He attributes this to taekwondo.

A student at Daekyeong Commercial High School in Seoul, he was recently named the grand winner in the 3rd Korea Multicultural Youth Awards organized by The Korea Times and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

Park was born in 1997 to a Korean mother and Sudanese father. He lives with his parents and older brother in Itaewon in Seoul.

He began learning taekwondo when he was in the second grade.

“I had no friends in the first grade, but in the second grade I finally met a good friend, and I practiced taekwondo with him,” he told The Korea Times. Initially, he took up the martial art to defend himself as he was still scared of the boys who had mocked him…

Read the entire article here.

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Critical Mixed-Race In Transnational Perspective: The US, China, And Hong Kong, 1842-1943

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, United States on 2014-12-13 22:49Z by Steven

Critical Mixed-Race In Transnational Perspective: The US, China, And Hong Kong, 1842-1943

Center for East Asian Studies
Lathrop East Asia Library, Room 224
Stanford University
518 Memorial Way, Stanford, California
Thursday, 2015-01-15, 16:15-17:30 PST (Local Time)

Emma Teng, T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This paper will examine the intersection of Sinophone Studies and Critical Mixed-Race Studies (CMRS) – two new and critical paradigms of inquiry – as productive forces in reshaping Chinese Studies beyond the old Area Studies model. My work analyzes the evolving discourses on mixed-race as well as the lived experiences of Eurasians in China, Hong Kong, and the US during the era between 1842 and 1943, and thus lies at the intersection of these two emergent and dynamic fields. Through my research on transnational Chinese-Western mixed families I aim to expand the horizons of Critical Mixed-Race Studies, which has been dominated by the study of black-white interracialism. I ask how a transpacific comparative approach might shift the theoretical frameworks for critical race and ethnic studies by challenging the presumed universality of US-centric models. At the same time, I aim to expand the horizons of “Chinese” studies, asking how mixed-race or transracial hybrid identities contest racially bounded, Han Chinese-centric definitions of Chineseness.

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

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Clean comic standing

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2014-12-13 21:54Z by Steven

Clean comic standing

The Asian Age


Having performed for some well-known names including US President Barack Obama, Indian-Japanese comedian Dan Nainan comes to India with some clean comedy

He has performed for the US President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Steve Wozniak and many others. He has made them all roll with laughter. And now, the Indian-Japanese comedian Dan Nainan will be performing for the Delhiites on December 13 at Trident, Gurgaon.

Being half Indian, half Japanese and doing comedy in USA, that’s ought to be quite a journey. “Indeeed, it has been,” says Dan. “When I took my first comedy class, I asked my teacher if it would be a disadvantage to be Indian and Japanese. She said that it would turn out to be my greatest advantage. And she turned out to be 100 per cent right.”…

Read the entire article here.

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UNPOPULAR OPINION: 6 Reasons Why Your Utopic Vision for a Mixed-Race Future is My Nightmare

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-10 17:54Z by Steven

UNPOPULAR OPINION: 6 Reasons Why Your Utopic Vision for a Mixed-Race Future is My Nightmare


Kristina Wong

Guess what? One day, when we’re all mixed race, racism won’t magically disappear.

Before you start trolling me (not that I don’t need the attention), let me tell you the specific sentiment that this whole essay addresses. It usually starts when someone chimes in with their wide-eyed vision for 2050, the year when people of color will outnumber white people in America:

“One day when all the races have mixed together, and we can’t tell what anyone is anymore, there won’t be racism! All our cultures will blend together! And…the babies will be beautiful!”

Ah yes! This magic mixed-race future, where everyone will have fucked the hate out of everyone and in the process, thousands of years of colonialism, violence, and systemic oppression disappear into the “interesting facial features” of mixed-race people!

I’m not indicting the lives of mixed-race people nor chastising interracial relationships. But let’s get real — the hypothetical “Future World of Mixed-Race Babies” being the end of racism suffers from frighteningly naive logic about how racism actually works.

Here are SIX reasons why racial utopia won’t suddenly appear once we pull our pants down and start boning across borders…

Read the entire article here.

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2014 National Poetry Month Poem of the Day: Fred Wah

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Canada, Media Archive on 2014-12-08 20:44Z by Steven

2014 National Poetry Month Poem of the Day: Fred Wah

Turnstone Press
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

“Waiting for Saskatchewan,” the title poem for the book, arose out of an event that occurred in Nelson, BC on a winter night in the early ’80s. We had been anticipating an exhibition of art from Saskatchewan about to open at a local art gallery when we were advised that the show would be delayed due to heavy snows over Kootenay Pass, preventing delivery of the art. So I took the poetic hint and used the phrase to meditate on my own historically tethered relationship to Saskatchewan, a place that held, for me, the complications of a mixed-race family history and the geographical site for an Asian-European intersection, a kind of hyphen that I have used to construct a personal imaginary. The poem is a biotext that offers the space to measure the accumulation of particularities and apprehensions, dreams, and memory. The poem is one way to remember the future.

Fred Wah on “Waiting for Saskatchewan”

Waiting for Saskatchewan
and the origins grandparents countries places converged
europe asia railroads carpenters nailed grain elevators
Swift Current my grandmother in her house
he built on the street…

Read the entire poem here.

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Transforming Three Sisters: A Hapa Family in Chekhov’s Modern Classic

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2014-12-08 04:01Z by Steven

Transforming Three Sisters: A Hapa Family in Chekhov’s Modern Classic

Asian American Literature: Discourses and Pedagogies
Volume 3 (2012): Special Issue: Mixed Heritage Asian American Literature
pages 130-146

Elizabeth Liang

“All right, let’s agree that this town is backward and vulgar, and let’s suppose now that out of all its thousands of  inhabitants there are only three people like you… But you won’t simply disappear; you will have some influence. And after you’ve gone there will be six more, let’s say, like you, then twelve, and so on, until finally people like you will be in the majority. In two or three hundred years, life on earth will be unimaginably beautiful, astonishing.” (Vershinin in Act I of Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, translated by Paul Schmidt)

It is an act of courage or foolhardiness to produce theatre in the heart of the film world, depending on your point of view and how large the houses turn out to be. In the fall of 2005, I produced Three Sisters in a 60-seat theatre in Burbank, California (home of Disney and Warner Brothers). The odds were stacked even higher against the show’s success when my assistant producer and I stipulated that the main characters, the upper-class and highly educated Russian Prozorov siblings, had to be played by Hapa actors. I chose to foreground mixed heritage Asians because I am Hapa and wanted to see something akin to my own family on stage. The play had never been cast this way anywhere according to my research. Meanwhile, I assumed that our audience would be largely European American, because that is usually the case whenever I attend the theatre. Thus it was difficult to predict if this production would spark any interest in the average L.A. theatregoer, since people tend to flock toward stories to which they can relate. I hoped that they would be intrigued by our unusual “take” on a play with which they were likely familiar (as it is one of Chekhov’s most popular works), but I also worried that they would feel the ethnic “layering” was forced and unnatural, or that we were trying to teach them something they had no interest in learning. My reasons for casting the siblings as Hapa were manifold:

  • To deliberately represent a section of the population that is normally under- and misrepresented. Census 2000 proved that over 6.8 million or 2.4 percent of Americans considered themselves multi-ethnic. 25 percent of those people resided in California. (And Census 2010 discovered that over 9 million or 2.9 percent of Americans considered themselves to belong to two or more racial groups. Among those, Asian and white are the third most common pairing.)
  • To allow the actors to interpret legendary roles in which they might not normally get cast.
  • To further emphasize the difference of the Prozorov family from others by adding race to Chekhov’s division based on class and education.
  • To tell the audience a mixed heritage story without making it feel like a classroom lesson…

Read the entire article here.

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The Forsaken: Portraits of Mixed-Race Orphans in Postwar Korea

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive on 2014-12-04 19:48Z by Steven

The Forsaken: Portraits of Mixed-Race Orphans in Postwar Korea

Time Magazine

David Kim
Yale Law School

Joo Myung Duck (1940-)

Pictures made in the ’60s by a young photographer, Joo Myung Duck, depict the mixed-race children of foreign servicemen and Korean women

On July 27, 1953, a ceasefire ended open hostilities in the Korean War, and the United Nations, the People’s Republic of China, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) established a border and a demilitarized zone at the 38th parallel. After three years of fighting, the border between north and south was, in effect, exactly where it had been prior to the beginning of the war. The Republic of Korea (South Korea) refused to join the armistice; and, as a formal peace treaty was never signed, South and North Korea today remain technically at war, 60 years after the guns fell silent.

Nearly three million people died or went missing in the war, in which North Korean and Chinese troops fought an international force comprised largely of Americans. Of those three million, more than half were civilians, and most were Korean. Since the mid-1950s, meanwhile, the American military has maintained a heavy presence in South Korea; this footprint is the uneasy foundation that underlies relations between the two countries.

The photos in this gallery were made in the early 1960s by Joo Myung Duck, then a young photojournalist. They depict mixed-race orphans, the children of foreign servicemen and Korean women, at the Holt orphanage in Seoul. Most of these children were born after the war, and they were abandoned by nearly everyone: by their fathers, who rarely remained in Korea; by their mothers, who endured ostracism and social stigma; and by the Korean government, which endorsed a politics of racial purity and sought to expel mixed-race children from the country.

In exploring these realities, Joo’s photographs are at-once inquisitive, undaunted, and gentle, attending carefully to variations in racial appearance while suggesting the centrality of Christian faith at Holt. His highly formal compositions revel in visual detail. And, in large part, he avoids sentimentality…

Read the entire article and view the photographs here.

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Racial Passing and the Raj

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Papers/Presentations, Passing on 2014-12-02 21:03Z by Steven

Racial Passing and the Raj

American Historical Association
129th Annual Meeting
New York, New York
2015-01-02 through 2015-01-05

Saturday, 2015-01-03, 15:10 EST (Local Time)
Park Suite 3 (Sheraton New York)

Uther Charlton-Stevens
Volgograd State University, Volgograd, Russia

Racial passing is a subject that has attracted much attention in the historiography of the Americas, as well as other settings such as South Africa. It has hitherto been overlooked in the South Asian context. Mixed race groups in South Asia have until recently also been largely neglected by historians, while attracting more attention from geographers and anthropologists.

Mixed race groups such as Anglo-Indians have been perceived as marginal, despite existing on the fault line of constructed racial difference. In many ways they embody the colonial connection and the transnational most tangibly, and through their mere presence make problematic the binary of ruler and ruled, colonizer and colonized. The British perceived not only those of mixed race but also poor whites of Indian domicile as undermining their racial prestige in the eyes of their Indian subjects, treating the two groups as essentially one class. However the socio-racial and class-based hierarchies which the British sought to erect and to police motivated widespread attempts at transgression, resulting in widespread passing in hopes of upward mobility along the spectrum from Indian Christians to mixed-race Anglo-Indians to supposedly unmixed Domiciled Europeans and even into the ranks of the British population, such as those who came out to take senior positions on the railways. This world of racial mixing and transgression was one which the British found unsettling and which later Indian Hindu nationalists, concerned with concepts of purity, also had reasons to overlook. Exploring racial passing across the boundaries erected by the Raj should yield us far greater insight into the nature of race in late colonial India and the lasting impact of the imperial presence.

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In Japan’s Okinawa, saving indigenous languages is about more than words

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2014-12-01 20:53Z by Steven

In Japan’s Okinawa, saving indigenous languages is about more than words

The Washington Post

Anna Fifield, Tokyo Bureau Chief

NISHIHARA, Japan — Rising in turn at their wooden desks, the students giggled, squirmed or shuffled as they introduced themselves, some practically in a whisper.

“Waa naamee ya — yaibiin . . . (My name is . . . ).” One by one, the classmates at Okinawa Christian University managed to get out their names, a few confidently, but most of them sheepishly.

Teacher Byron Fija waved his arms around, laughed and tried to encourage the class, which looked like a college group anywhere — some in hoodies, others in baseball caps and one guy with green hair.

But it was clear that the language — Okinawan — didn’t come naturally to most of them.

It’s the biggest of the six main indigenous languages spoken in this subtropical Japanese island chain, once the independent Ryukyu kingdom but now best known for hosting most of the American military bases in Japan…

…Fija is almost evangelical in his promotion of Okinawan, poetically called “uchi-naa-guchi” here.

In addition to teaching, Fija, 45, plays the sanshin, a three-stringed Okinawan banjo, and sings. For five years he hosted a radio show in Okinawan.

He sees the language as intrinsic to his identity. A product of the military occupation, he is the son of an Okinawan mother and an American father, a man he has never heard from.

Fija cites two experiences that motivated him to embrace the local language and culture.

First, he learned to play the sanshin.

“Someone told me that my playing was fine but my Okinawan sounded American, even though I don’t speak any English. Maybe it was because I don’t look Japanese or Okinawan,” Fija said after class, wearing a traditional Japanese outfit with an Okinawan pattern. His Okinawan pronunciation, he said, was the equivalent of a Japanese person singing in English “I rub you” instead of “I love you.”.

Then, in the 1990s, he spent a year or so in Los Angeles, hoping to make it as a rock star. But as he discovered how hard that was, he had an epiphany. Because of his Caucasian looks, he said, he had never really been accepted as Japanese. But with no knowledge of his father and little proficiency in English, he clearly wasn’t American, either…

Read the entire article here.

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