Throughout the week after visiting “RACE: Are We So Different?” I’ve been thinking about groups of people that would possibly have trouble identifying their races. The multiracial group, which is mixed race, then came to my mind immediately. I did some research on it and found the video above.
“So, what are you?”
Looking back to my past, I’ve never been asked this kind of offensive questions. I mean, why would I? Most people would just assume that I’m an Asian the first time they saw me, just like how they assume those “Asian-looking” mixed race people are.
Yet, there might be much more than just a race.
The Hapa Project in the exhibit says it all. The project was created by artist Kip Fullbeck, who has photographed more than 1200 people that identified themselves as “hapa.” The participants were also asked to handwrite their answers to the question “what are you?” after being photographed.
While I was looking at the photos and their responses, I realized they were all naked, without make-up and facial expressions. It’s because, “This is also about starting with as blank a slate as possible. Every way we present ourselves visually, from our style to our glasses to our jewelry to our expression, is a way of identifying ourselves culturally and socially. And I wanted people to just be who they were at their base, to be as much as possible at their essence,” as Kip stated in an interview he did with Discover Nikkei.
Even though I’ve never asked any of my mixed race friends the question above, I felt ashamed after the visit. I realized I’ve never actually spent time understanding them and their cultures. If you’ve already visited the exhibit, and took a look of the Hapa Project, did it change the way you think of the multiracial group? And if you have been asking your mixed friends that question, did you really try to understand “what” they and their cultures are before asking?