Raine Law Yuen has a special interest in issues relating to the intersections between Eastern and Western culture and values.
Self-Identity: Eurasian vs. Hapa
The most commonly used definitions to describe a person with part-Asian ancestry are as follows:
The term "Eurasian" was first coined in British India in 1844 and originally used by the Anglo-Indians—people of mixed British and Indian descent. They tended to socialize and marry among themselves, forming a separate social and economic class.
Today the term is most commonly used as an ethnic definition to describe people of mixed European and East Asian descent (cultures based on Chinese culture and philosophy such as Chinese, Japanese Korean, and some Southeast Asian cultures).
The term "Hapa" originates in Hawaii and denotes a person who is half-Asian and half-white or any other heritage. The usage of "Hapa" has become popular with many people with mixed roots in North America and Pacific Rim Regions.
Biracial or multiracial are terms also used today.
Primordial vs. Constructed Identity
Research conducted by Poston and Root (1990), a leading researcher and author on bi-racial identity studies, develops a four-stage model of identity integration and concludes:
- Individuals with bi-racial identity have a fluid identity, which means that they can move between ethnic preferences and change preferences depending on a situation. For instance, they are able to relate equally to both their European and Asian ethnic roots depending on the prevailing situation, or they can establish a unique identity that is not wholly from one or the other.
- Another study finds that people report the most satisfaction when they are able to value the different aspects of their ethnicity, make decisions freely, and live with authenticity.
Poston notes that until the age of about four, an individual's focus is on their own identity and is therefore not too aware of racial differences. The observation of differentiation takes place when the individual starts to have group contact—usually when they begin to attend school.
This is an extremely anxious time for a person with a bi-racial identity, as they are placed in a situation where they are often required to make a choice between their identities. However, with parental support and guidance, this phase can be overcome with less stress. With some help, your child can value all sides of their ethnic origins.
Continuum of Biracial Identity Model
The Continuum of Biracial Identity (COBI) is another model of bi-racial identity. Proposed by Rockquemore and Laszloffy, it aims to reflect the diverse ways multiracial individuals see themselves and proposes a continuum along which an individual can identify. A blended identity may express itself to different degrees of an ethnic ideal, pending the individual's personal circumstances.
For instance, a person of mixed Chinese and German ancestry would be represented by one pole representing their Chinese side and the other pole representing their German side. An equally blended identity of the two is located in the middle, but an individual can place themselves anywhere along the continuum, which can be changed at any time.
Some Tips to Help Children Integrate Their Mixed Heritage
- A child might learn the language of his/her minority culture.
- Let your child have contact with relatives of both sides of the family.
- Explain cultural differences to them. In this way, they can understand why people act as they do, and they will also be able to understand themselves better.
- Celebrate or at least note the important holidays and events to both sides of the family.
How Eurasians Are Perceived
A study conducted by Gillian Rhodes from the University of Australia found that people tend to find a Eurasian face more attractive than a European or Asian face. When asked what they think of Eurasian people, people generally agree with this finding but also say that they find that Eurasians tend to be more confused.
A number of studies show that bi-racial individuals tend to also suffer a higher degree of anxiety compared to the average population as a result of identity confusion.
One international news magazine proclaimed Eurasians "the poster children for 21st-century globalization," touting their ability to bridge cultures in marketing, advertising, and entertainment.
Bi-Racial People Are Healthier and Stronger
A research study conducted by scientists on the genetics of intelligence in Hawaii among Americans with European and Japanese ancestry, and some with both ancestry, found that the participants with both ancestries scored higher in 13 of the 15 tests given.
Alan Ziv authored a book based on these findings, Breeding Between the Lines. It notes that, whereas inbreeding is associated with a number of birth defects, crossbreeding creates a stronger, healthier, and more intelligent species.
The World in 2050
A TIME Magazine cover feature predicted that by 2050, the majority of Americans would be multicultural/mixed race. Similar trends are found globally with Asians that are living in Western countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand becoming the fastest-growing minority group, as well as those with Eurasian origins.
The one-drop rule is a social and legal principle of racial classification that was prominent in the United States in the 20th century. It asserted that any person with even one ancestor of sub-Saharan African ancestry ("one drop" of black blood) is considered black (Negro in historical terms).
The one drop rule legally classified bi-racial people into the racial category of the parent who was a racial minority.
Loving and Virginia Case of 1967
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 1967 that it was unconstitutional to prohibit mixed-race marriages based on laws prohibiting interracial marriages. ‘The case was brought by Mildred Loving, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other.
Their marriage violated the state's
The Loving and Virginia case was not only a landmark ruling in the US but also had a global reach.
The Hapa Project
Kip Fulbeck is an American artist, filmmaker, and author. His mixed ethnic background is Cantonese, English, Irish, and Welsh. Fulbeck created the Hapa Project, a multiracial identity project using a range of media, including a published book, traveling photographic exhibition, satellite community presentations, and online communities.
Fulbeck began the project in 2001, traveling the country photographing over 1,200 volunteer subjects who self-identified as hapa (defined for the project as mixed ethnic heritage with partial roots in Asian and/or Pacific Islander ancestry).
After being photographed, participants identified their ethnicities in their own words, then handwrote their response to the question “what are you?” Over 1200 volunteer participants were photographed at dozens of shoots throughout California and Hawaii, as well as Illinois, New York, and Wisconsin.
The Hapa Project was created to promote awareness and recognition of the millions of multiracial/multiethnic individuals of Asian/Pacific Islander descent; to give voice to multiracial people and previously ignored ethnic groups; to dispel myths of exoticism, hybrid vigor, and racial homogeneity; to foster positive identity formation and self-image in multiracial children; and to encourage solidarity and empowerment within the multiracial/hapa community.
The Loving Day Foundation
Loving Day is a global network of annual celebrations you can host or attend.
Its goals are:
- To create a common connection between multicultural communities, groups, and individuals.
- Build multicultural awareness, understanding, acceptance, and identity.
- Educate the public about the history of interracial relationships in order to fight prejudice.
- Establish a tradition of Loving Day celebrations as a means to achieve these goals.
A role model is someone that a person or community can look up to for inspiration and behavior modeling. When it comes to famous actors and actresses, it seems there is an ample supply of wonderful role models. For instance, these male mixed Asian celebrities and female celebrities.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.