2008-10-28

hapa pake

A fellow twin mommy {who lives in Hawaii} told me about the Gosselin kids wearing Hapa tees last week on Jon & Kate...of course the one episode I forget to watch, right? It reminded me of the whole Hapa controversy that is going on out there. So I have been surfing the web trying to figure out what the real deal is since my children have been referred to as Hapa on several occasions.

Here is what Wiki says about Hapa:

"Hapa" is a Hawaiian term used to describe a person of mixed Asian or Pacific Islander racial/ethnic heritage

Etymology

In the Hawaiian language, hapa is defined as: portion, fragment, part, fraction, installment; to be partial, less. It is a loan from the English word half. However, in Hawaiian Pidgin (the creole spoken by many Hawai'i residents), hapa has an extended meaning of "half-caste" or "of mixed descent". Mary Pukui & Samuel Ebert's Hawaiian Dictionary define hapa as: "of mixed blood, person of mixed blood as in hapa hawai'i, part Hawaiian." [See: Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Samuel H. Ebert, Hawaiian Dictionary, Revised and enlarged edition, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu HI, 1986] The word "hapa" has moved into Hawaiian and mainland English via reborrowing.

Used without qualification, hapa is often taken to mean "part white", and is short hand for hapa haole. The term can be used in conjunction with other Hawaiian racial and ethnic descriptors to specify a particular racial or ethnic mixture.


Then it goes on to list several examples of what is considered to be "Hapa", part chinese is refered to as hapa pake . After reading this one would think that calling their child who is half asian and not half pacific islander is OK, but then I found this site called RealHapas.com , here is what part of her intro says:

Around 2002, I noticed that many people of mixed Asian descent were disrespecting Hawaiians and part of our culture by misusing and misappropriating the Hawaiian word "hapa." It became evident at Alvin Soltis' www.Hapas.com that there was an assault and an attack on part of our Hawaiian culture, a culture that I would hope is respected like other cultures are. I noticed this elsewhere online. It became my personal mission to ensure that I do what I can to protect this gift that our kupuna gave to us which future Hawaiian children should be able to have as well. This is one of many ways that I use to protect this gift as well as other gifts from our kupuna such as the iwi (or "bones") that all Hawaiians share.

As someone of English, Chinese, Hawaiian, and Portuguese descent I was shocked that so many mixed Asians were unknowingly and/or unwittingly disrespecting the Hawaiian culture... thus disrespecting its people...


So, I am more confused as ever, I mean... do think that she might be taking the angry hapa thing a little too far ? I am neither of asian or pacific islander descent... so maybe if I were I would feel the same? Probably not , just because I tend to be a laid back person, but I'd love to hear what others think ...if you have an opinion about Hapa's that is? If so, leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

2 comments:

Salena said...

Ok- so am I a Hapa? My dad is from the island of Tonga and my mom is white. All my life i've been half-caste or "half- palangi"
(a term poly's use for white)
This was interesting to read. Hey, and I'm SO excited you have a blog! :)

Salena

john mckenzie said...

wow, racial identity sure is fraught, eh? since www.realhapas.com is down now, I can't go look at the quote in context — I can't really figure out what she could be talking about.

Anybody with a connection to Hawaii, who is half or part white, can proudly call themselves a hapa. That's what I, a hapa haole whose mother grew up on the islands, believe. And pretty much all Hawaiians take a look at me and go "yep, hapa" mentally, I can see.

So I say, go for it. And to the person who is Tonga/white, you will find that the term Hapa is better understood in the United States than "half-palangi," for sure! So again I say go for it.