Have you ever heard the term “hapa” before? I encountered the term firsthand in Hawaii two years ago as I was paying at a register. The native Hawaiian cashier said, “Are you hapa? You look mixed.”

I was intrigued to learn more about the origin and use of the term, so I looked it up online and found that hapa actually originated in Hawaii and means “part” or “mixed”. Hawaiians use the term to describe someone who has a mixed heritage. For those of us in the Continental U.S., it describes someone who is of mixed Asian or Pacific Islander descent.

As I did some more research I came across a lot of great resources and online communities for hapas, including hapavoice.com, a hapa Facebook group and a Hawaiian musical group called HAPA that consists of a guy who is from the South Pacific and a guy from New Jersey.  There’s even an entire photographic Hapa Project that was created by artist Kip Fulbeck to showcase the diversity of hapas.

The one unifying theme that I found was that hapas take great pride in their heritage, and they love sharing and educating others about their mixed background. So that inspired me to reach out to some fellow hapas and ask them to share why they love being mixed, in a single photograph, in a single sentence.

Here are 12 of those hapas (including me):

1.) Trish, Baltimore, MD
Korean/Caucasian

trish2

As you know from my previous articles, my father is from Oklahoma and my mother is from Korea, so I have acquired quite a taste for both southern cooking AND spicy food!

2.) Eddie, Kapolei, HI
Korean/Caucasian

ed smith

This is my older brother Eddie. He lives in Hawaii and works at the Aulani Disney Resort.

3.) Raffy, Honolulu, HI
Filipino/Spanish

raffy

Raffy is Eddie’s coworker at the Disney resort.

4.) Toni, East Coast
Korean/Black

Toni

Toni reached out to me online after she read my articles on Mixed Nation, and ever since then, we have become great friends. She’s an amazingly strong woman who has overcome various “disruptions” in her life, and she shares her thoughts and life journey on her blog: http://www.mylifeasadisrupter.com/

5.) Dillon, East Coast
Korean/Black/Caucasian

Dillon

Dillon is Toni’s son. They share the same views on being mixed, and obviously, the same good looks!

6.) Jan, Newport News, VA
Korean/Mexican

jan serda

Jan is my brother’s friend from high school. She and I bonded over our love of Hawaii and hip hop music. She has two beautiful hapa boys of her own.

7.) Noah, Oakland, CA
Korean/Caucasian

noah

Noah is a fellow writer with me on The Nerds of Color. He also wrote an amazing article on NPR’s Code Switch series titled “How I Learned to Feel Undesirable.”

8.) Julie, San Francisco, CA
Japanese/German/English

Julie Taeko

Julie is a fellow hapa author who interviewed me for a book she is writing. It focuses on growing up mixed in San Francisco. You can learn more about her and the book at: http://www.juliegramlich.com/.

9.) Krista, Los Angeles, CA
Japanese/German

krista williamson

Julie also interviewed Krista for her book on being mixed, and then she introduced us. You can learn more about Krista’s view on “seeing the glass half full” on http://kristamariah.tumblr.com/ and http://lavenderbones.wordpress.com/.

10.) Eric, Wilmette, IL
Chinese/Caucasian

Eric Stinehart

Eric was the first person to respond to my post in the hapa Facebook group. His quote is truly inspirational.

11.) Steven, Camp Pendleton, CA
Chinese/Caucasian

steven mosley

Steven also responded in the hapa Facebook group. I love that he used humor to showcase his pride in being hapa.

12.) Kristen, Newport News, VA
Korean/Caucasian

jason cooper wife

Kristen is the wife of an old school friend of mine. You can check out his amazing artwork at https://www.facebook.com/JCPFreelanceandDesign

I wanted to end with Kristen’s picture because she perfectly summed up my collective thoughts on being mixed race. It’s great that we can love and appreciate our different races and cultures, but in the end we are all one race: The Human Race.

 

Check out our awesome HAPA t-shirts and other multicultural merchandise: www.MixedNationStore.com

Trish Broome

Trish Broome

Trish Broome is a half white/half Korean writer who currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. When she’s not sharing her views on culture and diversity on Mixed Nation, she’s making readers laugh with her satire music articles on The Rap Insider. In her spare time she enjoys listening to ‘90s hip hop music, shopping at thrift stores and eating kimchi. Follow her on Twitter @TheGreenGroove. See more articles by this author >