Slaying The Hapa Stereotye

Slaying The Hapa Stereotye

“I Am an Individual”

Shayna Ann Akiko Coleon
Vol. 24, No. 6, March 21, 2003

My friend, who looks like my sister but had always referred to herself as Japanese, giggled. “I’m kinda hapa,” she said. “I’m half-Okinawan, half-Japanese. And there is a difference.” . . . .

“I guess you could be hapa,” I admitted, realizing that as we move away from other-defined to self-defined, from external to internal references for coding ethnicity, it becomes even more and more difficult to question another’s claim to hapa-ness. See what happens when you mess around with meaning? The term ‘hapa’ itself became as fluid and evasive as a face you just can’t place.

— Nora Okja Keller in “Circling ‘Hapa,’” an essay included in “Intersecting Circles”
When you hear the word hapa, what do you picture?

Try asking several other people this same question and chances are they will all answer differently.

Skylar Decker shrugged when he was asked what he pictured when he heard the word “hapa,” then said, “Me.”

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