When Half Is Whole: Multiethnic Asian American Identities

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When Half is Whole - Multiethnic Asian American Identities

These stories have been gathered from individuals whose lives blend Asian and American in their families, whether biological or adoptive. Though society tells them that they must keep parts of themselves hidden, like the dark side of the moon, they dare to embrace all of their heritages. Their lives are journeys of self understanding, balancing, connecting, and finding meaning in their roots, discovering connections that bring them into contact with communities, healing themselves and healing others. Seeing the world through the eyes of their children is much more of a challenge than they realize.

Listening to the kinds of stories told in this book is one way of enhancing understanding. Students in my course "When Half is Whole" who are not Asian American have also taught me that these stories relate to them as well.

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We are all fragmented and made to feel less than whole. We all have parts that others do not see and to which we ourselves have lost connection, deny, or reject.

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And we are all striving toward wholeness in a journey of healing and development. Everyone can see themselves in the moon, whether new moon, crescent moon, half moon, or full moon, there is much more to us than what meets the eye, and there is always a hidden wholeness. Related Papers. By James Ong.

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Online Available online. A75 M87 My mom is Japanese; my dad is white—Welsh. Photo courtesy of Serii Hattori. Bailey , Mary C.

Wei Ming Dariotis, a professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University who was heavily involved in early hapa identity activism she started the San Francisco chapter of the Hapa Issues Forum , attests to the powerful role the word played in shaping her own identity. When used in this non-Hawaiian context, hapa is more than a casual descriptor; it actually represents a social movement.

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The editorial discussion archives for the Wikipedia entry on hapa confirm this controversy. Some Asian Americans, and even Native Hawaiians, may not see this language appropriation as a big deal—words are borrowed and adapted between languages all the time. But, even if the word hapa was originally adapted from English, uneven power dynamics still exist when debating who gets to use this word and for what. However, for the Census, the Census Bureau reversed its policy and allowed respondents to identify with more than one "race," finally allowing researchers to get a reliable count of the number of multiracial Asian Americans in the U.

follow According to the census, Table 1 of " The Asian Population: " report , out of the ,, people living in the U. The following table breaks down the distributions of Asian Americans who identify with more than one race. As we can see, by far the largest group of multiracial Asians are those who are half Asian and half White.

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Historically, many of these mixed-race Asians have also been called "Amerasians. Next are Filipinos Overall, the Census Bureau reports that there are about 1. Multiracial Asian Americans would also be the fastest-growing group as well. In other words, as intermarriages involving Asians increase, multiracial Asians are becoming a more prominent group within the Asian American community, and within mainstream American society in general.

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In the past, the racist "one drop rule" dictated that anyone who even had any trace of non-White ancestry i. To a certain extent today, many Americans still see multiracial Asian Americans as "half-breeds" and don't consider them to be truly White, Black, etc.

On the other hand, many in the conventional Asian American community also do not consider multiracial Asian Americans to be truly "Asian" and rather, see them as "whitewashed. In other words, many multiracial Asian Americans still face distrust and even hostility from both their Asian and non-Asian sides. Sociologists argue that one of the defining characteristics of the U. This may help to explain the traditional emphasis on prohibiting the "mixing" of different races, a motivation that continues to drive many neo-Nazi or White supremacist ideologies.

The Evolution of Racial Identity Among Asians

As a result of these cultural dynamics, many although certainly not all multiracial Asian Americans encounter difficulties in establishing their own ethnic identity as they try to fit into both the Asian American community and mainstream American society. Frequently this involves feeling alienated, marginalized, and that they do not legitimately belong in either community, Asian or non-Asian.

In other words, instead of trying to "pass" as a member of a single racial group, they may be better off when they actively create their own definition of fitting in that is based on synthesizing their unique and multiple characteristics. In doing so, multiracial Asian Americans develop a sense of ownership and pride in their new identity, rather than trying to seek acceptance into the preexisting racial groups. As it turns out, monoethnic Asian Americans have been doing something like this for many generations, as they reconcile and negotiate their own identities as both Asian and American.

Murphy-Shigematsu, Stephen [WorldCat Identities]

In this sense, we might say that multiracial Americans are now going through the same process that Asian Americans have been going through for years. In other words, monoethnic Asian Americans and multiracial Americans share a common process of actively shaping their identities through combining elements from diverse cultures can help these communities connect with one other and bridge cultural differences.

As the incidence of interracial marriage and by implication, numbers of multiracial Asian Americans continues to increase, multiracial Asian Americans have the opportunity to both assert their own unique experiences and characteristics while also participating in the larger Asian American community and mainstream American society in general.

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In the process of doing so, multiracial Asian Americans are likely to play a central role in the demographic, political, and cultural evolution of a diversifying American society.