|Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-16 01:37Z by Steven|
Alex Laughlin, Social Media Journalist
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.