Think of it as a racial mashup. We’re living in an era when the President of the United States is multiracial, and we’re changing our perspectives on ethnic identity — especially what it means to be Asian American. We’re moving beyond single cultural identification. Many of us are connected to our ethnic heritage and add the layer of American culture. Hence, I’m both Japanese American and Asian American.
In addition, the richness of mixed-race America is going to continue to have a huge impact on the U.S. in the future.
For example, the Asian American community of the future will be a multicultural tapestry with a bright thread of mixed-race Asians. In the Japanese American population, the mixed-race fabric is already very evident — since the 1970s, JAs have married outside our own community more than any other group. So we’ve been familiar with the term “hapa” for decades.
I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to call mixed-race JAs “ai noko,” which literally translates as “love child,” or maybe “hafu” (“half”), and she would say it disparagingly (sadly, she’s not PC at all). Likewise, “hapa” is a Hawai’ian term that means “partial” — and it was used originally in a derogatory way, for “hapa haole,” or “half-white.” Although I know people who are offended by the use of the word hapa, it’s become a common term for mixed-race people of all ethnicities, not just Asians. I’ve heard it used within the black and Hispanic communities.
Because of the importance of the mixed-race AAPI community, Erin and I are proud to announce our next interview for visualizAsian.com: Kip Fulbeck, an artist, author, performer, slam poet and….uh, professor! Kipâ€™s ethnic background is Cantonese, English, Irish, and Welsh, and he’s nationally known for his exploration of mixed-race identity.
Our conversation with Kip Fulbeck will be on Tuesday, July 21 at 6 pm PT (9 pm ET).
Kip is the author of “Permanence: Tattoo Portraits,” “Part Asian, 100% Hapa,” “Paper Bullets: A Fictional Autobiography” and the upcoming book “Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Children.” He’s also directed a dozen short films including “Banana Split” and “Lilo & Me.”
He’s been featured on CNN, MTV, and PBS, and has performed and exhibited in over 20 countries. He speaks nationwide on identity, multiraciality and pop culture â€” mixing together spoken word, stand-up comedy, political activism and personal stories.
He’s also a professor of Art at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he received the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He also surfs and plays guitar, rides motorcycles, and loves those ugly pug dogs.
Even though he’s only part-Chinese, Kip evokes the “model minority” myth — he’s also a nationally-ranked Master swimmer and an experienced ocean lifeguard and lifeguard instructor.
Erin and I met and saw Kip perform a few years ago, at the Japanese American National Museum. He’s a hilarious speaker and performer. He delivers his monologues as if he’s a stand-up comic and slam poet combined, and he was edgy and hip and very engaging.
Hapa are becoming more and more visible — although we celebrate the increase of Asian Americans in mainstream pop culture, for example, many of those asian faces are hapa, especially in TV and movies.
Here’s an interview with Kip Fulbeck, by CNN’s Betty Nguyen:
And here’s a clip of Fulbeck delivering a keynote speech in 2008:
Register NOW for the July 21 conversation with Kip Fulbeck! Our interviews are conducted via teleconference lines, so you can call in to listen (long distance charges may apply), or tune in via live streaming webcast (FREE). Just register for the AAPI Empowerment Series and youâ€™ll receive the dial-in and webcast page information. If you canâ€™t make the call or miss the call, no worries â€” register anyway and you can listen to the recording later!