Growing Up Hapa in America

“Yet some of my friends tell me they understand 50 percent of what my mother says. Some say they understand 80 to 90 percent. Some say they understand none of it, as if she were speaking pure Chinese. But to me, my mother’s English is perfectly clear, perfectly natural. It’s my mother tongue. Her language, as I hear it, is vivid, direct, full of observation and imagery. That was the language that helped shape the way I saw things, expressed things, made sense of the world.”

—   Amy Tan, “Mother Tongue”

Actress Explores Tensions in Interracial Relationships

Diane Farr attends a “So What Are You, Anyway?” conference at Harvard’s Half Asian People’s Association (HAPA) and talks about what it means to marry into an Asian family, adjust to cultural differences, and raise half-Asian children. Very interesting.

I think in terms of adjusting to cultural differences, my dad did not do so well. He pretty much approached the Asian side of my family the way he did Caucasian people, but the customs were very different. Even little things, like not taking off his shoes when he entered my grandparents’ house, were a bit odd to the rest of us. Not that we cared (my Asian family is pretty Westernized and chill as it is). But, for example, my aunt married a white guy as well who ended up assimilating pretty well into our family, picked up a bit of Chinese for fun, eats lots of rice with us, and generally seems to enjoy his wife’s culture, and vice versa.

Do you assume that the Asian-Americans you see on the street are first-generation immigrants?

I certainly do. Even though many Asian people immigrated to the United States years ago, I still am vaguely surprised whenever I speak to an older (middle-aged and up) Asian-American person who speaks without an accent. I wonder why this is; maybe growing up with first-generation immigrants, it’s hard to imagine an Asian-American family that has been well-established in this country for multiple generations.

Being not white in America is something like walking across hot coals. The pain is constant. Sometimes you step wrong or hit a particularly hot coal and it hurts a little more. Sometimes the coals blaze up and consume you. All the while there are these people jogging past you on lovely, cool, manicured grass. Most of them won’t look at you. Some of them are confused as to why the hell you’re over there on the coals when the grass is so much nicer. Some of that group are actively trying to direct you to the grass. Some of the people berate you for staying on that path of coals because why would anyone stay there unless they were too lazy or too stupid to leave.

None of them see the fence that keeps us on the coals because for them it doesn’t exist.

—   Tameka L. Coleman (via shadowed-aluasasit)

(via shellhorn)

“A fully functional multiracial society cannot be achieved without a sense of history and open, honest dialogue.”

—   Cornel West
Without my glasses, the Asian side really comes out.

Slam poet on cultural identity.

A blog regarding the Hapa Project.
Quote— “So, why did I dedicate an entire blog entry to the Hapa Project? It’s simple, I’m what you call ‘Hapa.’ To answer the original question (‘What are you?’), I see myself as an American grown up in a bi-racial culture steming from a Japanese father and a German mother. I’m often times referenced as the Axis powers of WWII, and I get the dreaded ‘Asian Glow’ when I drink.”
"Asian Glow". What a pain. The only remnants of my own half-Asian, half-German culture. I can really sympathize with this person for a multitude of reasons.
Click to see the Hapa Project.

Why Do Asian-Americans Go Uncast?

I am a nisei. Depending on your definition.