ha•pa (hä’pä) adj. 1. Of mixed racial heritage with partial roots in Asian and/or Pacific Islander ancestry. n. 2. A person of such ancestry.
Hapa, literally “half” in Hawaiian, was originally used as a derogatory term to describe people of biracial ancestry. Today, many multiracial individuals of Asian or Pacific Islander descent have embraced the word as a term of prideful self-identification. Although some object to the term’s appropriation and perceived misuse outside of its traditional Hawaiian context, “Hapa” has been widely adopted by the Asian and Pacific Islander multiracial communities.
According to the 2010 Census, there are over 9 million people of multiracial heritage living in the United States. This number is expected to more than triple by 2060.
The largest multiple-race combinations in the United States are White and Black (1.8 million), White and Some Other Race (1.7 million), White and Asian (1.6 million), and White and American Indian and Alaska Native (1.4 million):
California, Texas, and New York have the largest multiracial populations in the US:
While many Hapas take pride in their ancestry, some find that their multiracial identity creates personal dilemmas and social challenges. Many of these issues are addressed in Maria Root’s 50 Experiences of Racially Mixed People, as well as her Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People: