Aloha no, Hip Hapa Homeez.
As you know, since we last communicated, Japan has experienced a major catastrophe. Some of you have contacted me about making donations and requesting assistance for Japanese and other folks living in the Land of the Rising Sun. Please join the Hip Hapa Homeez Group Page on Facebook and post your requests there.
While we send our kindest deeds and thoughts overseas, let us also turn our focus to the future. This weekend, the Hapa Japan Conference takes place at UC Berkeley where Japanese-African American enka singer Jero-san will perform. Please stay tuned for a follow-up report from our dedicated stringers who will be attending this momentous event.
Since Your Hip Hapa is on a mission to learn more about multi-culti organizations, this week’s featured guest is the Cal Poly Pomona’s Hapa Student Association. Current leader, Justine Budisantoso, gives us an overview of it below. But first, let’s find out a little about Justine in her own words:
"Born and raised in the suburbs of Southern California in 1990, I’m the middle child and only daughter of five kids born to a Chinese dad who was raised in Indonesia and a mother born in Ecuador who was raised in Venezuela, but who had a Spaniard/Italian father and a Turkish/Jewish mother.
The questions surrounding my identity have always been an issue for me. I’ve never been Latina enough, nor Asian enough, growing up; and, as a result, I’ve struggled between the two identities where at times I would associate as just one or the other—or, wish that I was an entirely other race, such as Caucasian, just so I wouldn’t have to worry about who I was and where I came from.
Growing up in a multi-ethnic home, and with parents who were both first generation to this country, I was surrounded by culture. Chinese statues and paintings were littered throughout the rooms and hallways while Spanish music moved through the house. For big family dinners and holidays, we had food from all around the world as my both my parents not only cooked from their own heritages, but also from others’ they had encountered throughout their travels. It was not odd to see curry, spring rolls, paella, empanadas, dumplings, and beef with broccoli at our table.
Growing up with such strong cultural presences in my home, I never doubted that I was one or the other. Sure, some days I felt more Latina than others, and vice versa when it came to my Asian side, but I never felt the need to choose when I was at home. My parents were open to identity and still support me in embracing all my cultures. Though they both come from very different places from opposite sides of the earth, the fact that they are both strong cultures never made one seem less significant than the other. If anything, I grew up seeing the similarities: The importance of family, religion (even though they are different, prayer and being a good person is pretty universal), the need for education, cultural pride, hard work, appreciation of life, gratitude and experience of manual labor in how it builds character, and especially the importance of food in culture.
The food thing is what even started my interest in cooking and now the field of studies that I’m in today (Hotel Restaurant Management). I love learning about the various cultures that make up who I am, learning about other cultures and people who are diverse, and taking a genuine interest in how this knowledge will assist me when I begin to pursue my Masters within Student Affairs."
Q: Justine, when was the Hapa Student Association at Cal Poly Pomona founded and who were its original founders?
A: It was founded in 2008 by Seth Huang (president), Jacqueline (Jackie) Walker (vice president), Alex Valentin (treasurer), Michelle Wong (secretary), and Jeni Watanabe (advisor). Jordan Hiroto later joined the founder by fulfilling the position of the publicity chair.
After its first year, it took a hiatus the next year as many of the members graduated. It wasn’t until summer 2010 that Jackie Chen and I started talking about restarting the club.
The biggest motivation for us came from the knowledge that author of Part Asian, 100% Hapa Kip Fullbeck was coming to our campus to speak on identity. We wanted to restart the club that spoke about this issue. We wanted to reestablish the community that catered to those of us who associated with multi-identities.
That summer, Jackie and I began the re-chartering process to make it an official club on the CPP campus. We received much support from our advisor and the members at work (the Office of Student Life and Cultural Center, with extra input and advice from Dr. Dora Lee, the Senior Coordinator of the Cultural Centers). We gathered a list of names of people we thought would want to be involved, those who might take a serious interest in helping make decisions and forming the club, and a list of people we would be able to count on for support.
In the end, we came up with about 20+ students and a wonderful E-board. At first, we had little attendance at our meetings because of conflict of schedules, since most of our members are highly involved in our campus community, but it didn’t lessen the amount of interest that people have for our club.
Members of our E-board are: me--Justine Budisantoso (president), Jacklyn Chen (vice president), Harrison McHugh (treasurer), Chris Karnopp (previous treasurer), Danny Woolston (secretary and MultiCultural Council representative), Kal Kadlec (publicity), Heather Thompson (publicity) and Jeni Watanabe (advisor). Some of our photos appear below.
Q: What is the purpose of the group? Do you have a set of bylaws or rules, an agenda?
A: The motto that we jokingly tell everyone is, “If you are a Hapa, love a Hapa, or want to make Hapa babies, then join the Hapa club.”
Our purpose is to promote the knowledge and create an environment for those who are associated as having a multi-racial/ethnic identity. We believe that it is beneficial to create an environment for those who are mixed, who are interested, in love with, or are a friend of a multicultural person, and those who are in multicultural relationships to come together and bond over the various experiences this diverse group of people have gone through.
We have a set of bylaws, as required by the university; however, as a developing organization, there are still areas we wish to refine. For the most part, our structure is very relaxed. Despite our more casual take on our meeting, that does not mean we do not have a plan.
In the case that our funds become inactive for more than two years, the money will be donated to the Red Cross. However, we have recently been discussing how to reallocate the funds to be donated to Mixed Marrow, which educates and assists with finding bone marrow donors specifically for multiracial people. We take the time to make our language as inclusive as possible. As for our agenda, in starting back up, we have dedicated most of our time to figuring out:
What do we want to do with the Hapa Club? Have it grow so that our entire campus student body is aware of our purpose.
What do we want to do in the Hapa Club? Movie screenings on multiracial issues, discussions, social events. We’re even considering hosting a university open conference.
Where do we want to go as a group? Always growing; creating a logo, slogan, t-shirt, buttons. If you visit our CPP Hapa fan page, you can see some of the logos we have been working on and getting input about: Spotlighting Hapas in society, Hapas in music, Hapas in sports, Hapas in movies, etc.
Asking a Hapa question of the week, like “What have you been mistaken for?”
The people who identify as one race were the most interesting to hear a response from, “What do you identify as?”
Q: What kinds of blendies and mixies does your organization tend to attract, and why?
A: Most people are a blend of Asian and Caucasian; however, we cannot stress enough that we try to be as inclusive as possible. You don’t even have to be mixed to join. During our recent introductions of group members, our meeting was composed of people who identified themselves as the following:
Jewish/Chinese, Chinese, four Chinese/White, Chinese/Japanese, three Japanese/White, European, Indonesian/White, Chinese/Indonesian/Ecuadorian/Spaniard/Italian/Jewish/Turkish (that's me, Justine!), Mexican, Taiwanese/Czech, Hawai'ian/Czech, Filipino/German, Filipino/Irish, Filipino/Mexican.
Q: Since I've lived in Hawai'i, I learned that the term hapa was originally used by Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawai'ians) to describe the children they had with Europeans before Asians arrived. Are your members aware of the origin of the word?
A: In fact, the “dictionary” definition is the picture on our fan page. In addition, during a recent viewing of the documentary One Big Hapa Family by Jeff Chiba Stearns, we were also given the breakdown of its definition in Japanese.
Q: What are some of the group’s activities? I know you're raising money for various causes, but how does that help forward the mixed-race agenda?
A: Part of the activities we want to participate in more is attending more Hapa conferences and events focused on multiracial causes.
The treasurer, Harrison, and I just came back this weekend from a Hapa conference at Harvard called “So…What Are You Anyway?” This was something we found beneficial to our organization as well as to the growth of the Hapa community. It provided us with the location and topics to start various dialogues on how to further the Hapa agenda, and bring awareness to the diversity in America. There were deans of the university in attendance, studies shown that focused on the mixed race/identity issues, and discussion of the various topics surrounding Hapas. We would also like to attend a Loving Day event.
In regard to what we are raising money for, Relay for Life is a university-wide event that is not only a good cause, but an opportunity for our club to be supportive of our community and show the existence of our club to the university. It serves dual purposes: philanthropy and publicity.
Along with attending Relay, we also are looking to work with the Mixed Marrow organization to have them table at our tent site to educate people on what Mixed Marrow does--to bring awareness to potential donors of multiracial backgrounds to sign up as donors to assist leukemia patients. To get more information on this, contact Athena Asklipiadis or visit:
Q: What do your group members do to stay involved in multiracial issues?
A: Attending the Hapa Conference at Harvard University was the biggest step towards keeping involved. Mostly it’s been through personal searching online. Going through Facebook and Google, typing in “multiracial”, “hapa”, and other words that might be associated with multi-identity. Also having other people share this type of information with us during our meetings or on Facebook. In fact, it was through a recommendation posted on our fan page that we found out about Hip Hapa Homeez!
Just as a result of the conference, I was informed about:
Loving Day http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mixed-Marrow/127890680589766?sk=info#!/pages/Loving-Day/136482819725443),
National Association of Mixed Student Organizations (NAMSO) http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mixed-Marrow/127890680589766?sk=info#!/mixedstudentorgs
Now, we are looking into possibly hosting a conference such as Harvard’s ourselves, or at least attending similar events that promote the mixed peoples community.
Q: Where do you see your organization going? Will it, and others like it, be obsolete some day?
A: I see our organization growing. If anything, being mixed is the new “thing” in society. We are the rare, the intriguing, and the unknown--especially with discussion about creating a national association for mixed students organization, the scope in which we can impact people has broadened.
I hope to see us as a contributor to the organization of Hapa clubs on the West Coast; helping to connect each campus on the regional and national levels through our assistance given to NAMSO.
I’m not one hundred percent sure that we will stay strong forever, because in reality the population becomes increasingly mixed every day. However, I think that organizations like these will still be around because there tends to be a steady want for clubs and places where people of like identity to come together.
Here are some photos of us:
Right: Harrison McHugh, Treasurer, and the one who brought CPP Hapa to the Hapa conference at Harvard. Inspired to take our club far, he critically thinks about the ways we can advance and get our name out there to the public, and how we are going to fund those efforts.
Left: Jacklyn Chen, VP and the one who made reviving Hapa at Cal Poly Pomona possible. Without her, the idea of re-establishing the club would still be an idea. She found the people, she grabbed the paperwork, and she is a boss!
Right: Heather Thompson, Co-Public Relations Chair. She is going to be taking lead on our own CPP Hapa Project--showcasing the multiracial peoples, and couples of the Cal Poly Pomona community. Ever looking for someone to promote Hapa, she’s your girl!
Left: Danny Woolston, Secretary and Multicultural Council Representative. Always bringing motivating ideas to our meeting, willing to step up when asked, and dedicated to representing the Hapa voice at Multicultural Council Meetings.
Right: Kal Kadlec, Co-PR Chair. Mastermind behind our IHAPA logo, and creator of the other logos we are developing to represent CPP Hapa to our community. Motivated, inspiring, and ready to promote Hapa Club in anyway he can, he is the go-to guy for getting our name out there.
I’m nothing without my E-board. They keep me motivated and inspired. I may have helped re-charter the club, and am doing the paperwork and some behind-the-scenes work, but I couldn’t have done it without the rest of the E-board’s constant support and dedication in making our organization flourish.
Mahalo nui loa, Justine, Cal Poly Pomona Hapa Student Association, and all you Hip Hapa Homeez out there. Be sure to check out our Hapa*Teez t-shirts on Cafe Press. You can order one just like the one Cassie wears, below. Also, join our Watermelon Sushi Fan page, our Sexy Voices of Hollywood Fan page that supports the Watermelon Sushi film, and follow both of us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/watermelonsushi and http://www.twitter.com/sexyvoices
Until next time, I am...
Your Hip Hapa,