Hapa Happy Hour
A lively discussion and celebration of the mixed heritage experience.
American Hope (episode 11) In this episode the women of Hapa Happy Hour discuss the 2008 presidential election, and President-Elect Barack Obama. Please send any comments or questions to hapahappyhour@gmail.com. Thanks for listening! Happy Holidays! (Recorded in November 2008.)
Direct download: American_Hope_episode_11.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:02pm UTC

Global Citizen, Heart of Gold, Part II (episode 10)  The second part of our interview with Hiwa's mom.  Donna discusses her ongoing love affair with Hawaii and asks the ladies personal questions about growing up.  Questions or comments about this episode?  Feel free to email the Hapas at hapahappyhour@gmail.com.  Mahalo! (Recorded in September 2008.)
Direct download: Episode010.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:24am UTC

Global Citizen, Heart of Gold, Part I (episode 9) We proudly present Hiwa's mom, Donna, who shares her travels of the world and her journeys of the heart. This is part one in a two-part episode. Please share your thoughts with us at hapahappyhour@gmail.com. Mahalo! (Recorded in September 2008.)
Direct download: Hapa_Happy_Hour_episode_9_1-2-MP3_for_Audio_Podcasting.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:00am UTC

WE MADE IT!!! Welcome to the 44th President of the United States of America, President Barack Hussein Obama. Welcome to the first president from the Aloha State, the great state of Hawai'i. (Happy Hiwa.) My heart is filled with gladness. Thank you, America. We're ready. We're ready for this new chapter in the history of our presidency. This is truly a happy hour. With joy, Rena

Category:blogs -- posted at: 10:21am UTC

Political Hapa

Hello blog readers and Hapa Happy Hour supporters! First a note: we normally publish new episodes twice each month… but this October 2008 we didn’t quite have our technical abilities at the ready… and, Lisa is celebrating her honeymoon, congratulations Lisa! So we have two blogs to offer, one from Rena and one from myself. We do have some really incredible podcasat episodes coming up so I hope you stay tuned.

Secondly a confession: I have never blogged before. I wasn’t planning to blog either until Lisa and Rena encouraged me… because I really wanted to talk politics before our big national election. So please read on if you’re interested, and as always, we are interested in your feedback: hapahappyhour@gmail.com. Thanks, Hiwa.

Barack Obama! Wow he has totally lit up our nation and our world; whether you decide to vote for him or not, I think that is undeniable. Part of his fascination is his ethnicity. I like this definition of ethnicity (from American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition) “Identity with or membership in a particular racial, national, or cultural group and observance of that group’s customs, beliefs, and language.” And when I read that definition the conclusion of ethnicity I reach for Mr. Obama is… American. He is truly an American. If you look at his customs, beliefs and language they are all American.

Fellow politicians McCain and Palin have been implying that Obama is un-American. What standard are they using? If it’s economics, and they are implying that Obama is a Socialist, which is not true, that would still be American. As a Republic we Americans can vote into office capitalists, socialists, any –ists. So what does it really mean to be an American?

It sounds like McCain and Palin think that being American is being like them. Which is not only narcissistic but also dangerous and ignorant. The white elephant in the room is that in the eyes of most people Obama is seen as a black man. (Although I hear people refer to his white grandmother and mother I don’t hear him being called mixed race.)  While McCain and Palin claim not to be “playing the race card” it seems obvious that part of the fear they encourage in their supporters and the undecided voters is the fear of Obama as a foreign, brown-skinned man.

Our war in Iraq (aside from the fact that we went in to Afghanistan to seek terrorists and conveniently-for-them Bush and Cheney added Iraq) over the last five years has added to the fear of foreignness, Islam, and brown skin and it is irresponsible and unconscionable that McCain and Palin should feed that fear. To say he is in league with terrorists is cultivating and focusing the energy of hate, when it would be of far greater public service to lead with integrity.

The office of President should be synonymous with the term public servant - alas it has been many a year since it has. As a leader and a senior citizen I would hope McCain would consider more thoughtfully his political strategy.

The economic recession, when it is not easy for some people to earn their living, should remind us all to treat each other a little bit better, not worse. At a time when people are being laid-off work, and not sure if they will be able to provide for their families, when tempers may flair, McCain should know better than to point an insidious finger at Obama. Aren’t they both fighting to lead and protect America? I trust, hopefully, that people know better.

And I’m so proud, not only that Hawai’i can claim Obama (and that I hope its patchwork quilt of cultures has influenced him).  I'm also proud that Americans have embraced so whole-heartedly a mixed race, intelligent presidential nominee. On a personal note I am validated with the belief that “you can do anything” when I see him campaigning. And he has been so inspiring moving beyond race so elegantly, knowing that it is the heart and minds of Americans that matter, that he is appealing to. Please go out and vote and we’ll “talk” with you again in November.

Category:blogs -- posted at: 8:39am UTC

Hello All!

A big thank you to Heidi W. Durrow, whose blogpost, "Obama's Biracial Background Makes Him Mysterious (Read Risky) to Southern White Voters," prompted this entry. Heidi, the co-host of the mixedchickschat podcast (along with the lovely Fanshen Cox), blogs regularly at www.lightskinnededgirl.typepad.com. Check it out!

In the New York Times article,"For Some, Uncertainty Starts at Racial Identity," (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/15/us/politics/15biracial.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin) James Halsey of Mobile, Alabama said of Barack Obama, “He’s going to tear up the rose bushes and plant a watermelon patch...I just don’t think we’ll ever have a black president.” Still another interviewee, a pipe-fitter who works north of Mobile, said, "“He’s neither-nor...He’s other. It’s in the Bible. Come as one. Don’t create other breeds.”

Other breeds.

Then, two of my students came to me this week and wanted to share with me a video they had found on youtube. The video, allegedly produced by a man registered as "independent" (He made a point of telling viewers this), claimed that Barack Obama was not a natural-born citizen, and therefore, should not be allowed to run for president. So convinced were my students that everything else on the yard fell away from me as they talked. I stood on the blacktop, utterly crushed, staring at these two intelligent, impressionable boys, and my mind was racing. Was this the culture they had inherited? How was I going to pry them from these political briars? How was I going to undo this abuse? In my mind, I was thinking, "That's absurd, you know. Barack Obama was born in Hawai'i. It's a state, you guys. A STATE," but I couldn't say that. I couldn't deliver the information with the sarcastic tone with which it was playing in my head.

He is that much of a threat to our national psyche? We could only be at the "bottom" to find ourselves voting for a Hapa? A Hapa, no less, and still our black and white society only sees the non-white.

I know I am not speaking for Senator Obama, nor do I mean to. I will probably spend three paragraphs describing what Barack would eloquently articulate in much, much (much) less. (One sentence.) But for my part, as someone of mixed heritage, here's what I want to say:

Barack Obama is white.

When you are a Hapa, you get to be the ethnicity of both parents. When you're a Hapa, you are.

I don't say that as if I'm trying to lay claim to some ancient parentage, some forgotten inheritance that would afford me something if I could only prove it were true.

People don't understand that, and because they don't, they dismiss me. It's not important. What's important is only what they can see. Folks immediately retort, "But he's African-American, too," as if that takes care of the conversation. If I persist, they look at me like I'm speaking another language or worse, attempting to practice ancestral voo-doo. They look at me as if to say, "Your magic won't work here."

Only folks who are multi-racial can understand what I mean.

It shouldn't matter, and perhaps it doesn't, but alas, here's the rub. If race doesn't matter, why is Barack's heritage so hard for us to wrap our minds around? Why is it such a paradigm shift? When my liberal friends say, "But he's African-American, too," and perhaps they mean, "and people won't forget that," they're still bearing witness to the fact that race does indeed matter.

I'm tired of people not acknowledging Barack's mixed heritage. It's true that he identifies with being African-American. I understand that. It's the way I relish being Filipino, the way I search for a box on the census to encompass all that I am. When I finally settle on Asian-Pacific Islander because all other choices fall short, believe me, I have not forgotten that I am Swedish and German.

We have no problem saying that Barack is black. Absolutely no problem with that. We're very comfortable with that box.

But, turn it around, and it's a huge mind shift. It's outside the box, and we don't know what to do with it.

Yet, Barack is just as much white, just as much, as he is black. And if we're comfortable letting him be black, we should be just as comfortable letting him be white.

When we do that, then race won't matter.

Barack Obama is a man of mixed race. His diverse background and global perspective in an ever-changing society, in the midst of a technological revolution, is exactly what we need in the White House. This world is smaller and more delicate than ever, and he understands that.

Just a few more days to the election! See you on the other side.

-Rena
Category:blogs -- posted at: 12:24am UTC

In the Eyes of Beholders (episode 8) Continuing the conversation about going home, from episode 6, the ladies talk about what itʻs like to be seen in various parts of the world. And where they feel the most at home. Are you Hapa, too? Let us know your opinions and questions at our email: hapahappyhour@gmail.com. (Recorded in August 2008.)
Direct download: 08_In_The_Eyes_Of_Beholders_episode_8.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:33pm UTC

Hiwaʻs Dad Talks Story (episode 7) Hiwa interviews her father, Terry, in the Honolulu airport. He is hapa himself, of Hawaiian and Chinese ancestry. Thanks for joining us and as always we welcome your comments and any questions... hapahappyhour@gmail.com. Aloha!
Direct download: 07_Hiwas_Dad_Talks_Story_episode_7.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:28pm UTC

Going Home (episode 6) 6 - Reflecting on our travels this past year and sharing the cuisines that make Alaska, Hawaii, and Guatemala so unique. Please email comments to hapahappyhour@gmail.com. Thanks! (Recorded in June 2008.)
Direct download: Episode6.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:12pm UTC

Meet Rena's Dad (episode 5) 5 - We're interviewing our parents! Meet our first guest, Rena's dad, Jim, from Chamberlain, South Dakota. Find out how this Midwestern farmer fell in love with a teacher from the Philippines. This week we also touch on the similarities between being transracially adopted and being multiracial. Please email any comments to hapahappyhour@gmail.com. (Recorded in May 2008.)
Direct download: Episode_5.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:41pm UTC