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HapaVoice.com celebrates mixed-race Asians Erica Johnson is a woman on a mission. Earlier this year, she launched a blog called Hapa Voice where she posts submissions from hapas -- mixed-race Asians -- with photos and short autobiographies that explain a little about themselves. The titles of each post are a simple rundown of the submitter's ethnic mix. This elegant, straightforward approach to stating one's own identity is both powerful and moving, especially for hapas because their identities have been a central focus all their lives, even more so than other people of color. Being mixed adds a layer of richness for themselves, and too often a lare of confusion for others. So it's really cool to read entry after entry on "Hapa Voices" and see so many people who are finding their voice... and their identity. HapaVoice.com founder Erica Johnson Johnson has been inspired by the work of hapa writer, filmmaker, artist, activist, standup comic and lifeguard (really) Kip Fulbeck. His "Hapa Project" and books such as "Part Asian, 100% Hapa" are clear antecedents for "Hapa Voice." In the book, Fulbeck traveled the country shooting portraits of mixed-race Asians accompanied by statements of identity by the people posing. He recently published a new book of adorable portraits of little hapa kids, "Mixed." But as an ongoing website project, "Hapa Voice" takes Fulbeck's inspiration and breathes it more life. Johnson explains the origins of the "Hapa Voice" blog on its "About" page:

Jon  and Kate Gosselin in happier -- we think -- times.When I first found out Jon Gosselin is Asian American, I thought, "Cool!" His kids were an adorable hapa brood, and Kate was a somewhat... shall we say ... difficult partner. A mixed-race family is nothing unfamiliar to many AAPIs (and especially Japanese Americans, who have had the highest out-marriage rate of all AAPI ethnicities for decades). Erin called it almost the first time she happened to tune in to the show. She pointed out all the ways that Kate showed little emotional intelligence (barking, "What planet are you from, Jon?" in one show), and the ways Jon seemed to be distancing himself from Kate in his body language and expressions. That's what the first look at "Jon and Kate Plus 8" was like for us. Now, Jon Gosselin just looks like a fool, not cool. He's being sued by TLC for breach of contract. And his antics may have also cost Kate, soon to be his ex, a chance at her own show with the kids, "Kate Plus 8." He tried preventing crews from filming their kids, so TLC has apparently postponed the new show's Nov. 2 launch, according to TV Guide. Other reports have said the show has been canceled altogether. What's ironic is that Kate's been coached and appears to be a different person from the hard and harsh wife from the start of the series in 2007. She's been reinventing her brand to a sympathetic character and a warm-hearted mom. Meanwhile Jon's devolved his brand from long-suffering husband and kinda bumbling dad to dumbass playboy twerphead. She might deserve another 15 minutes of fame, but his clock's run out.

Kip Fulbeck is a mixed-race artist and performer Photo by Suzanne Bernel 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! Kip’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).

Actor Keanu Reeves, who is half-Asian, will play a samurai in an upcoming move, 47 Ronin.The Hollywood news source Variety reported yesterday that Keanu Reeves, everyone's favorite hapa actor (his father is Hawai'ian-Chinese) is going to play the lead role in a samurai epic, "47 Ronin." The 47 Ronin is the celebrated 18th century story from Japanese history, of a group of masterless samurai who avenged the death of their feudal lord, or daimyo, after a year of planning and then committed seppuku, or ritual suicide, to maintain their warrior code of honor, or bushido. The story's been told a lot in Japanese movies, in variations of the title "Chushingura." The most recent remake in Japan was "47 Ronin" ("Shijushichinin no shikaku") in 1994, written and directed by Kon Ichikawa. It's cool to think that Hollywood is going to tell this story, with the the spectacle of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the star power of Reeves. Keanu Reeves played Siddhartha in the 1993 film Little Buddha.But it makes me wonder about the choice of Reeves. Yeah, he knows martial arts (and proved it in the Matrix movies), and he's part Asian. But he's not Japanese. And, hellooo, he doesn't look very Asian. When "Memoirs of a Geisha" was produced with Chinese women in the lead roles, it bothered some in the Japanese American community, including me. (It also caused a stir in China, where the women were criticized for playing Japanese roles.) Could it really have been so hard to find qualified Japanese actresses (which was the filmmakers' excuse)? I definitely get that Reeves brings a big name-brand to the samurai film so he's important. But his one previous role playing an Asian was downright surreal, and it makes me apprehensive about how this one will go.

hapa singer-songwriter kina grannis Surfing YouTube videos can be like the early days of surfing the Internet. Following links to random Web pages is a leap of faith, a trust in kismet, that what you're about to see is both somehow related to what you were seeking in the first place, and hopefully entertaining. In the midst of one of my YouTube forays, following related videos then backing up and taking another path to other videos, I came across one of my favorite songs of all time, "Ue O Muite Arukou" by Kyu Sakamoto, the Japanese pop star who had a worldwide #1 hit with the song in 1963. You probably know the song better by the name put on it by its American label, "Sukiyaki." It's been covered in English by a number of artists, most notably Taste of Honey in the '80s and the Viet pop singer Trish Thuy Trang more recently. She sings both English and Japanese in her version. (See Sakamoto's, Taste of Honey's and Tran's video versions below. They're all available on YouTube.) From there, I clicked to a cover version of the song by a hapa musician named Kina Grannis and was pleasantly surprised by the sweet, cool, understated quality of her version of the song -- which she sings in the original Japanese -- as well as the scope and depth of her talent on other videos. Here's the video: Grannis is from Southern California, and won a songwriting contest sponsored by Doritos with the catchy song, "Message from Your Heart," which was aired during the Super Bowl in February. The contest led to a deal with Interscope Records.

I wrote an article for Asian Avenue magazine, about mixed-race Asian American Pacific Islanders. The print edition, which is available at 500 locations around Denver, has lots of photos with it. The article highlights some of the issues facing people of multiple racial heritage in general: the lack of acceptance by either side of your racial background; the disruption...

Update 18 June: News media are reporting Tiger Woods will miss the rest of this year's golf season because he needs more surgery on his left knee. That's a big bummer, but not surprising, given how he grimaced after many of his tee-offs. I almost winced with empathy pain as he twisted his knee each time. Everyone's favorite hapa/Asian American, Tiger Woods, is important enough news to accomplish a pretty impressive feat. I'm not just talkin' clinching the U.S. Open Championship in a nail-biting last round and sudden death match against Rocco Mediate. I'm talkin' about pushing up the publication date of one of the most popular magazines in the country, Sports Illustrated. MinOnline.com reports that the July 23 issue of the mag, which had been scheduled to hit the newsstands with a Woods cover on Wednesday, was rushed to the printers early, and is already out, one day after the golf superstar's victory.