Nikkei Heritage: Intermarriages and Hapas: An Overview – Parts 1 and 2

Nikkei Heritage: Intermarriages and Hapas: An Overview – Parts 1 and 2

Discover Nikkei (Japanese Migrans and Their Descendants)
Republished from Nikkei Heritage (The quarterly journal of the National Japanese American Historical Society)

George Kitahara Kich, Senior Trial Consultant
Bonora D’Andrea

Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain, Lecturer in Sociology
National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Larry Hajime Shinagawa, Associate Professor Director of Asian American Studies
University of Maryland

Shizue Seigel

To be biracial and Japanese American means having many different labels from which to choose. For this historical overview, we will use “Hapa”, a term popularized by the Hapa Issues Forum, to mean people who have an Asian/Asian Pacific Islander parent and a parent of any other race. Our focus here is on those with a Japanese or a Japanese American parent.

There is no single Hapa experience. Over the decades, Hapas have had widely different experiences based on individual circumstance and background, as well as the time period and environment into which they were born. The history of people of mixed-race has been deeply influenced by the evolving social and legal contexts for interracial relationships and marriages, along with community attitudes about culture, tradition and belongingness. Legal barriers against mixed marriages have fallen; however, discrimination, prejudice, community fears and stereotyping still affect interracial marriages and interracial people today. Nonetheless, about half* of all Japanese American marriages since 1970 have been to non-JAs, and the birthrate of interracial and interethnic children with some Japanese ancestry now exceeds that of JA/JA children. The Japanese American community has been gradually welcoming Hapas as a significant and growing part of the Japanese American community…

Read the entire Part 1 of the article here.
Read Part 2 here.

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