My mother is South Indian with a trace of English blood, and my father is 1/4 Irish with the rest being a mixture of French, German, English and Welsh.

I’ve grown up in a very, very liberal city in the Bay Area. Even so, when my mother would walk me in my stroller as an infant, passers by would assume she was my nanny simply because I had such fair skin as a child.

No one can even come close to guessing my ethnicity — I’ve heard Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, and Middle Eastern, although my liberal sprinkling of freckles most likely plays a large role in throwing people off track. I inherited frizzy, capricious hair and most of my facial features from my dad and my dark hair and eyes from my mom, but the rest is a strange amalgam that cannot be traced to either parent or their lineage.

And this seems to me to be an integral part of being Hapa. It makes one unique, an individual who has one foot in one world and the other foot in another, and who is constantly shifting and crossing lines. A Hapa person can absorb many different identities and cultures while retaining their sense of self, and that is something special.

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