The Hapa Community & Kip Fulbeck

Image Credit: Flickr / bloomsberries


Part of the Mixed Community is the Hapa Community.

What is a Hapa, you ask?

Hapa is Hawaiian  for “half”. The term became popular in Hawaii first as “hapa haole”, which means “half white”. Hapa is most often used in a positive light. Hapa haole however is sometimes used as a put down.

The first time I heard the word “Hapa” was from the book Part Asian – 100% Hapa, by Kip Fulbeck. I love this book. It’s artistic, poetic and respectful and has an elegant concept: Invite mixed people to be photographed and let them write their own answer (in their own handwriting) to the question “What are you?”. I especially like that my mixed brothers and sisters rarely describe themselves as a percentage, unless it’s 100%, as in 100% black and 100% Japanese; or in a funny way like 1/2 hapa and 1/2 Oakland.

Fulbeck has a follow up book of children called Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids. Same concept. The difference with this book is that sometimes the kids answer, sometimes the parents answer and sometimes there is no answer, which is poetic (being undefined like a blank page) – but gave me a feeling of being short changed – buying a book and not seeing text on some pages.

There is a whole Hapa community in Canada as well. I saw this excellent documentary at the Mixed Root Film and Literary Festival in LA: One Big Hapa Family.




Also, in Japan the word is hafu. There is a film about the hafu experience in Japan called Hafu – a film about the experience of mixed-Japanese living in Japan. There is also a group called Hafu, with events, projects, a facebook group, and tweets in Japanese.




  1. says

    I love the part of the clip where the narrator talks about seeing a different perspective on intermarriage–the population isn't disappearing, it's multiplying! Great post. I'm going to look for Kip Fulbeck's books!

  2. says

    I LOVE Kip Fulbeck! I've seen him speak three times and continue to laugh at "Lilo & Me," a film he made comparing himself to every ethnically ambiguous (read: brown) disney character…. super funny :)