Q&A: What Does Being Multiracial, or “Hapa” Mean To Us?

Definition of Mixed Race: Denoting or relating to people whose parents or ancestors are from different ethnic backgrounds” (Oxford English dictionary).

“Hapa” stands for “half Asian, part American” or “half American, part Asian.”

Keiko is a first year Liberal Arts major at Colorado State University. She grew up on Oahu, Hawaii. She is a fourth-generation Japanese American, a song-writer, artist and unicycle rider.

Amanda is a fourth year Economics and Journalism double major at Colorado State University. She is from Los Angeles, California and identifies as Chinese, Filipino, and white. Amanda hopes to move back to LA one day to fully embrace her inner beach bum.

Q: What does being Mixed Race mean to you?

(Amanda): My family has a military background, so I lived in about 6 or 7 different places growing up. The majority of my childhood was spent in California, Colorado, and Alabama, and we lived mostly in predominantly white neighborhoods. It wasn’t until college that I consciously thought about and reflected upon what it means to be multiracial.

I identify as part Chinese, Filipino, and white; however, growing up I felt more strongly related to my white identity. I remember a point in time where I was started to reject my Asian identity because I felt like I didn’t completely fit in. I rejected going to Chinese school because learning the language was too difficult for me at the time and I hardly ever ate any Asian food because I was allergic to most of the key ingredients. I think this “rejection” is what led to a huge culture shock in high school, after moving to Torrance, California where my high school was about 80% Asian.

I think it was the transition between high school and college, moving from Torrance to Fort Collins, Colorado, where I began to truly understand what being multiracial means to me. I love Fort Collins and Colorado State University, but living back in an area where it’s predominantly white has made me miss aspects in California that helped me embrace my multiracial identity. Of course your identity can be shown and embraced anywhere you go, but there are some aspects about your peers, surroundings, and location, that make you feel comfortable about the way you act and present yourself.

Today I fully accept, love, and am proud of my multiracial identity. Working at the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center at CSU has allowed me to learn more about my identity, educate others, and surround myself with other individuals with similar identities.

(Keiko)For me, being “hapa” has always been a trivial fact of who I am; growing up in Hawaii meant that no one was the majority. The variety of faces, traditions, and foods all around me was my version of normal. On trips to the mainland (continental USA) I noticed the absence of this diversity. Yet it has not changed my identity.

Nowadays I am more conscious of being Japanese-American, as well as Caucasian. I never feel the need to add a hyphen and “American” to that identity, however. My partial white race retreats into the normalized backdrop of American society. Meanwhile, my “asianness” flags me as different, though not enough so to push me somewhere else. I rarely think of the physical traits that demarcate my ancestry, instead I have let my my interactions with the world become my sense of self.

In moving to Colorado, I have gained an appreciation for the richness of culture I grew up with. Although I do not feel completely a part of either the “Japanese group” or the “White group” on ethnicity surveys, I refuse to be explained fully as “other”. “Mixed Race” is a comfortable label, as is “hapa”. On good days, I notice my Japanese features and think of my mother’s family, hard-working and knowledgeable farmers and fishermen, and feel proud of that inheritance. On bad days, I feel less beautiful for those same physical differences.

Finding diversity has truly aided my continual self- acceptance. I work in one diversity office at CSU, and frequent another. By drawing on multiple identities, I seek an intersectional approach to being authentic. The task of belonging rather than “fitting in” is my perpetual objective.

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History of Japanese Internment Camps: Korematsu v. United States

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” –George Santayana, philosopher and novelist.

In such times as these, a turbulent political climate and protests happening seemingly everyday, it is important to remember and reflect on the injustices that occurred in the past.

As an aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II,  more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes and jobs to be relocated behind barbed wires in “relocation centers,” aka “internment camps.” On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration and deportation of Japanese Americans.

“… No one should ever be locked away simply because they share the same race, ethnicity, or religion as a spy or terrorist,” Korematsu said. “If that principle was not learned from the internment of Japanese Americans, then these are very dangerous times for our democracy.”

Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American, decided to ignore the order and instead, argued it was unconstitutional. He refused to go to the internment camps and was subsequently arrested for breaking military law. This led to Korematsu’s lawyers taking the case to the federal court of appeals; they ruled that the military orders were constitutional. In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction against Korematsu v. United States.

However, in 1983, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned when new evidence came to light. Professor Peter Irons, a historian, and Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, a researcher, found key documents hidden from the Supreme Courts during the trials in 1944. Government intelligence agencies hid documents proving Japanese Americans had not committed any acts of treason. However, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned by the U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Francisco, however, the ruling still stands in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, signed by President Ronald Regan, granted reparations to Japanese Americans that were interned during WWII, it also included a formal apology from President Reagan.

“Now more important than ever, we need to teach the lessons to be learned about the injustices of Executive Order 9066 and the WWII forced removal and mass incarceration of Japanese Americans!” –The Korematsu Institute

In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor after his continued activism. January 30 is officially Fred Korematsu Day, as passed by the state of California. This marks the first day in the United States named after an Asian American.



Fred T. Korematsu receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton. AP Images. 

For more interesting and important reads:

Japanese-Americans Imprisoned For Ethnicity Speak Out In Defense Of Muslims
Dorothea Lange’s Censored Photographs of FDR’s Japanese Concentration Camps
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Some Black and White on Fifty Shades of Grey

This weekend, this piece came across our radar:


This post detailed one of the elements of the new film Fifty Shades of Grey that many viewers and critics find troubling: the normalization of abuse.  We recommend anyone interested in reading some thoughtful critique to take a look at the piece, although some trigger warnings for sexual abuse should be observed.

While films have an inherent role to play as entertainment, it’s important to remember that they also act as reflections and influences on our culture.  Filmmakers and audiences should be aware of the cultural impact of what we see on screen and how it can affect all of us.  Common rationalizations that this film, like many others, is “just a movie” will be common, but even in light of those, we must remember that what we see on film can carry the weight of normalization, the idea that the behavior we see is expected and typical.  This transformation can be a dangerously slippery slope, especially where a film such as this one is concerned.  The more we are exposed to such phenomenon as are highlighted in this film, such as abusive relationships, psychological assault, and the subordination of women, the more we as a culture tend to view those phenomenon as the norm.  It should be quite clear why that is a highly dangerous road, especially in light of the widespread release and success of this particular film.

We would encourage readers who may go see Fifty Shades of Grey to do so with a critical eye and to have conversations with your friends and others about what you see.  You can certainly enjoy a film while still acknowledging its problems, and if you want to go to see this one, we hope you do exactly that.

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5 Inventions from Japan you didn’t Know Existed

  1. Do you sometimes feel bored sitting on the toilet? A Japanese author recommends you read a passage or two from his scary novel “The Drop – Horror Novel Toilet”. This toilet paper will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. Price: $15toilet paper
  2. If you are a carnivore who loves to eat meat but is on a budget, there is an Iphone gadget that allows you to smell one of three scents: short ribs, beef tongue, and buttered potato. Yes, I am fully aware that buttered potato is not meat. The creator, Koki Tsubouchi wanted users to be able to enjoy grilled meat without having to stretch their budget; his intention for creating this gadget is to allow you to eat rice, smell the meat, and trick your body into thinking you are eating delicious meat without having to pay a high price for it. Price :$35 “Hana Yakiniku”iphone
  3. A Japanese company has invented the world first eye wear that can sense your sleepiness level. The glasses use bio-sensing technology to detect eye movements to see if wearers’ concentration levels have declined. So if you are close to losing your concentration when driving, the glasses will give you a warning right at this threshold. Price: $199sunglasses
  4. Happy Coming is not just any ordinary eye mask. It has the ability to measure heart beat frequency and also brain activity during your sleep session and match these measurements with the right music and even aroma. Happy Coming allows you to take a quick nap before you enter the REM sleep cycle, waking you up at just the right time! This product is still in the development phase and is not available for sale yet.eyemask
  5. The Kokoro Yoho Mask was created to become the “best communication tool” in the office so that your colleagues can tell how you are actually feeling. The user’s feelings are displayed as symbols on the mask, just like a weather forecast. This product is not available for sale yet.yoho mask
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Linsanity Documentary

Linsanity have you seen it yet?!?!??! Well frankly, I haven’t either. Thus far the documentary has been doing really well on the independent film circuit. With a modest $99.5k at the box office and an 85% audience like on rottentomatoes.com director Evan Leong should be pleased.


If you have no idea what I’m talking about I’ll back up for a second. Jeremy Lin is an Asian American professional basketball player for the Houston Rockets. Jeremy Lin rose to fame in 2012 when his talents brought him up from a D-Class basketball league and quickly led to him being on the starting lineup of the New York Knicks. His global following callthemselves “Linsantiy.” And now here we are at this new documentary.


Lin has been very outspoken about many things including his race and religion. The documentary sounds like a good watch and I hear there is an epic Karaoke scene involving some classic Disney music. It can be streamed on Amazon instant watch now!

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Miss America not American enough?

            On Sunday September 15th the Miss America Pageant crowned Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, as the 2014 Miss America. After her win there was an immediate onslaught of hate speech all over social media. Complaints of her being Arab and a terrorist were common as well as outrage over this happening so close to the anniversary of 9-11 echoed all over twitter accompanied by general racism.

            Not only were people voicing their dislike of our new reigning Miss America but also many people voiced their support for Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail. The masses voiced their opinion that Miss Vail was a “Real American woman” and deserved the titled over Miss Davuluri.  Vail is White and blonde and Davuluri is of Indian descent but both are very much American.

            Not only am I deeply offended by these comments as a woman of color and as a fellow member of the A/PI community but also I am appalled by the sheer ignorance of people. How can people hate one person so much but not even know her actual ethnicity? Frankly, I would be surprised if most of these people remember her name today after writing such terrible things about Davuluri just two days before. I cannot comprehend what drives this type thinking and how someone would think that such hate is acceptable.

            What can we do, people who identify with Nina Davuluri being so excited for her triumph just to be ripped to shreds? Do we yell back, fill the Internet with our own accusations and slurs?  Do we wait for it to blow over (I mean twitter can’t take away her crown)? Or like Nina Davuluri do we choose “to rise above that” and keep working to be successful role models for others like us?


-Michelle Peck


Link to original post


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Lory Student Center Renovations

Colorado State University (also known as Construction State University) has not gotten tired of renovations quite yet! In May, A/PACC, along with many other offices here in the Lory Student Center, will be moving to the Mac Gym in the Rec Center. We will be temporarily located there until renovations have finished in Fall 2014.


Click the image for more information about the project.

The project, dubbed “Revitalization” has three main objectives.

1. Improve the building infrastructure and systems
2. Organize and highlight Student Diversity Programs and Services (that’s us!)
3. Target growth that aligns with the land-grant mission of CSU

In addition, there will be new features to the Lory Student Center, including a brewery! Click here for an article from the Coloradoan about the proposed brewery.

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Beautiful Boxer

First off, thank you so much for all of the support that you are giving to us through our Asian Fest events. This April has been packed with great events and we hope that you have enjoyed Asian Fest so far.

Next week, we will be hosting a film showing of Beautiful Boxer. The movie is an amazing biographical sports film that tells the life story of a trans Muay Thai boxer, Nong Toom. The film depicts the triumphs and struggles that Nong Toom faces as he deals with an inner battle of his sexuality and the outside battles of his kickboxing career.

Here is the trailer. For more information, visit our website! This event is free.

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Harry Shum Jr. Comes to Colorado State University for Asian Fest

Harry Shum Jr.

Hope you are all excited for Harry Shum Jr. to come to Colorado State University. Not only is he in Glee, he was also featured in GQ magazine and People magazine.

On Saturday, April 6th, he is visiting CSU to share his experiences and discuss his identity. This event is part of Asian Fest. Stay tuned for info about more great events!

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Amazing Asians

Jessica Cox has set many records and inspired many people. She holds two black-belts in the Taekwondo, earned a pilot’s license to fly a light-sport aircraft in three years, and is a certified scuba diver. Jessica Cox was also born with no arms. Being differently-abled has presented many triumphs and challenges for Jessica Cox who now shares her story with people around the world. Jessica Cox will be encouraging people to achieve and be creative with the mantra “Think outside the shoe” at Colorado State University on April 17th.

 Come to Asian Fest to hear the inspiring story and meet the inspirational, Jessica Cox!


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