Defining the term "Hapa"

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“Hapa” is a Hawaiian word, literally meaning “half” or “portion” and it became popularized in the phrase “hapa haole,” people who were originally part Hawaiian and part Caucasian, “hapa haoles.” As Asians from the mainland started going over more and more it was brought back to the mainland. And it’s gradually sort of taken on the term of people just being “mixed”. Sometimes in Hawaii people will say that anyone that’s mixed is Hapa. Sometimes people think of it as purely J-A and Caucasian. Some people think of it as being any kind of Pacific Islander and something else. But basically the way I define it is anyone who is multiethnic, multiracial, who has partial Pacific Islander or Asian descent is the way I define it.

Date: May 3, 2006
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Jim Bower
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

hapa identity multiracial

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