Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Is HAPA a "Curse or Gift"? -- An Answer for Asian Fortune News

[image from thetyee.ca]

On the first day of this new year, I wrote My Interview About Being Hapa That Never Got Published. It was a recount of my media experience being stereotyped and pigeonholed, partitioned and divided, misunderstood and unheard. But it was also an ode to a hopeful future in which people will be willing to have the hard conversations. The ones we still avoid having. The ones about power and pain, the past and the present. Yes, I'm talking about race. How we stubbornly persist on assigning value to a person and their life, based on the way they look. Despite my attempts to challenge the racial assumptions of the writer/editor pre-publishing, 5 days ago the article (in which I was not included due to my error) went live on Asian Fortune. When I saw the headline, "Growing Up Half Asian American: Curse or Gift?" -- my heart sank into my stomach. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Who Got Sidelined in #NotYourAsianSideKick

[image source]

by Sharon H Chang, as seen on Racism Review

In December of last year an Asian feminist conversation took Twitter by storm under the common hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. Designed to create much-needed but difficult-to-find space for discussing justice in the Asian American community, participants tweeted about everything from “media representation of Asian women to the way the prison industrial complex erases Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in its demographic tracking” (http://notyourasiansidekick.com/). Tanya Maria Golash-Boza covered it for Racism Review here. It instantly went global-viral garnering 45,000 tweets within 24 hours, appearing in 95 million feeds across the next 3 days and a month later – it’s still trending. In fact the discussion has so deeply shown its importance that it has transformed into something of a movement with its own website  and hosted forums that aim to continue “bringing conversations between artists, activists, and academics” about “everything from using Twitter as a platform for agitation to interracial solidarity to disability to queerness.” It has since generated widespread and well-deserved attention much of which you can easily locate and peruse via Google search.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2 Hapa Parents and 19 Hapa artists: Our Visit to War Baby / Love Child at the Wing Luke

War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian Art at the Wing Luke [image from warbabylovechild.com]

by Sharon H Chang

Cold, rain. Gray-stained morning. Husband and I are sitting in the car at 5 till, draining coffee dregs, waiting for Seattle's Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience to open. We're about to visit War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian Art before it closes in a week. We just dropped the kid off at preschool. It's taken us a full month to get here and many thwarted attempts. And now we finally made it, we're thrilled and stunned-awkward-silent at the same time. This is the unique challenge I think parents face in trying to raise their race-consciousness and by association, the race-savvy of their parenting (something our children desperately need). How in the world do you find: time to read books, childcare to get to places/events, opportunities to meet and converse with like-minded people/parents?? The truth is so often -- you just don't. Your kid is sick, abort mission. The babysitter cancelled or you can't find one at all, abort mission. You feel like you're gonna die from exhaustion, abort mission. The roof is leaking and your basement flooded, abort mission. So needless to say, this was a glorious triumphant morning for me and my partner. 2 Hapas with a Hapa son about to experience the art of 19 Hapa artists. That's a whole lot of kickbutt Hapa-ness.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Interview About Being Hapa That Never Got Published

Who ARE you??
by Sharon H Chang

At the end of last year I was asked (via Twitter) to interview for a smaller Asian publication about being multiracial. Of course I immediately said yes. I mean, exploring mixed race Asian identity and giving that exploration a voice is what I do. And of course I was excited to have a chance to speak and be heard. The writer contacted me with her credentials (very good) and writing samples (also very good). But then it got really weird, really fast. According to her, HAPA was an acronym for "Half Asian Pacific American" (she'd never heard of the Hawaiian hapa). In a short list of questions following she then wanted to know which race I identify with most and what opportunities my racial mix has offered. She then asked if I would send a picture of myself in "ethnic garb" or with "ethnic cuisine."