The word "Hapa" originally comes from a Hawaiian word for “half". It used to be considered a derogatory word but today it is embraced as a term of identity by folks who are mixed-race heritage that includes Asian or Pacific Rim ancestry.
Question: "So, what are you?"
Answer: I am of Korean and Norwegian heritage and often identify myself as "Korwegian". My ancestors were Vikings, Mongolians, adventurers, nomads, immigrants and entrepreneurs. I am proud of who I am.
In the past, I had an identity crisis due to kids picking on me but today I'm proud of my unique cultural makeup and believe that it has contributed to my curiosity of the outside world and made me a lover of all things different.
I compiled a list of random thoughts this morning over breakfast that I'm sure my fellow Hapas can relate to. If I'm missing anything, feel free to add them in the comments section below.
Here we go:
1) Koreans think I'm white and white folks think I'm Asian.
2) People often ask, "so, what are you?"
3) You meet a fellow hapa and there is an instant connection
4) You get excited when you spot a hapa on an advert.
5) People use to ask: "Is that your dad? Were you adopted?"
6) Its normal to be eating dried squid one day and pickled herring the next.
7) As a kid, you get called Asian derogatory names. You feel sad, ashamed and embarrassed. Then as you grow older, you begin to embrace your Asian roots and identity and ignore the meanies. You finally begin to celebrate your heritage and be proud of your differences and rich cultural background. Screw this Jonas brother, he's ignorant.
8) As an adult, you're still called derogatory names. Only this time, you know how to stand up for yourself and report the abuse.
9) People ask "do you date white guys or asian guys?"
10) You often get mistaken for a variety of different nationalities/backgrounds. You've been told you look Mexican, Hawaiian, Alaskan, Mongolian, Japanese, Chinese, Uzbekistani, North Korean....the list goes on (you should have been an international spy).
11) You celebrate Loving Day, an important milestone in American history where interracial marriage was legally allowed in the U.S. in 1967. The Loving Day name comes from Loving v. Virginia (1967), the landmark Supreme Court decision that declared all laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional in the United States. Everyone should have the right to marry. If they are of different race, same sex, different religion. Let's just love one another.
12) You get excited at the growing list of well-known hapas: Keanu Reeves, Devon Aoki, Sean Lennon, Norah Jones, Kelis, Anne Curry, Apolo Ohno, Hines Ward.... who am I missing?
13) You're delighted at the fact that Dave McClure has just told you San Francisco has a large population of hapas and you now will strongly consider moving there in the future:) Hapa mecca is calling...
14) You were frustrated when filling out university applications because you were only allowed to click one ethnic background box (White, Asian, Native American, African American). Do you pick your mom or dad's side? Pick one! Are you white or Asian??
15) Before we were rare, now we're everywhere.
16) Are we the face of the future? When cultures blend more and more, will we all eventually look the same?
17) Question: Who is asian? Your mom or your dad?
Answer: My mom.
Reply: Was she a nurse and met your father in the war?
18) You want to fit into both worlds but sometimes that can be a struggle. But somehow you always find a way;)
19) For the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau allowed you to classify yourself in 2 or more racial and ethnic categories. It's about damn time.
20) The 21st century has brought us globalization. People are more open to mixed relationships and interracial marriage. Faith in humanity is restored.
I'm proud to be a hapa and happy that my parents fell in love and grew old together in a time where it was not always accepted.