NPR has a section on their online site called, “Code Switched: Race and Identity, Mixed”. I found an article within this section called “‘Half Asian’?’Half White’? No – ‘Hapa'”, by Alex Laughlin. Hapa is a word that originated in Hawaii to describe mixed-race people, and is short for hapalua, meaning “half”.. I thought this was an interesting example of what we have been covering in class about what it truly means to be mixed, and the struggles associated with finding a balance between them. This internal argument of feeling inadequate and not belonging to any race is a common theme as we’ve seen in Yun’s Signifying “Asian” and Afro-Cultural Poetics and in Lord Invador’s song, “Rum and Coca Cola”, just to name a few. Laughlin delves into his own identity, half Korean and half white. He says, “If I were to volunteer my identity though, I would tell you I’m hapa.” It was also mentioned that haps was once regarded as a derogatory word, but today it is just another word. “In identifying as haps, Ive found a way to normalize my in-betweenness.” I was reminded instantly of the word “coolie”, and Singh’s Per Ajie and I am a Coolie. All three of these readings emphasize changing one’s perspective on being mixed, instead of being ashamed, being proud. Laughlin interviewed Kip Fulbeck, a mixed white and hawaiian artist who said “I think [hapa] is a much more interesting and accurate word than ‘Amerasian’ or ‘Eurasian’ or any words that are two words combined, because I don’t think of myself as half Asian and half white. I think of myself as a whole.” Beautifully said.
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