Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Macs And Mestizos

Aloha Hip Hapa Homeez,

It’s a sad news day as we remember Steve Jobs and his monumental contributions to computer technology. I know that I, for one, am grateful for my iMac and MacBook Pro. It should be noted that technically (pun intended), Mr. Jobs was hapa as his biological father was of Syrian descent and his birth mother was Caucasian American. Add to it, the fact that he was also adopted; presumably by white Americans--making him a transracial adoptee.

In any case, Your Hip Hapa salutes the spirit that was (multiethnic identity or not) Steve Jobs.

This month’s featured Hip Hapa Homeez is James Daniel Lopez, a frequent contributor to the Facebook group Hip Hapa Homeez. Besides regularly posting interesting links to information and clips about multiethnic experiences, James often takes the initiative to respond to any group members who asks questions.

Along with these photos of James, please enjoy the Q&A below:

Q: Who are your parents, and how did they meet?

A: My parents, Luis and Diana, both came from Mexican-American families in Los Angeles. Ethnically, I identify as Mexican-American, Chicano, Latino, Hispanic/Hispano, American, and Mexican—altogether, and depending on the context I’m speaking of. But probably more than anything, I’m an American, both in the U.S. sense as well as simply being a citizen of the Americas. 

“Racially,” however, I identify as “mestizo” (mixed), or “mestizo-moreno” as a nod to Mexico’s African heritage (as well as my own). 

Q: How did you grow up?

A: I was raised for most of my life in South Central Los Angeles, which is where I still live. 

Q: How did you become so involved with multi-ethnic issues? 

A: That’s complicated, but I’ll try to answer as concisely as possible. I was informed at a young age, through my family as well as through history books at school, that being of Mexican heritage generally meant having a strong mixture of Spanish and Native American roots. But this was over-simplistic, as I found, upon doing my own research, that there were actually several ethnic roots that contributed significantly to the Mexican gene pool and culture, as well as Latin American culture as a whole. Also, as I got older, my phenotype began to change significantly, leading me to be visibly perceived by many people as having roots from various backgrounds, sometimes mistakenly so. 

And to top it all off, I was raised in an English-speaking household in an area of Los Angeles which had both a large Mexican-descended population and a large African-American population; because of this, I absorbed many cultural influences from the local African-Americans as well as my Mexican heritage and the cultural fabric of “Greater America.” 

Q: What propels you to be so active on the Hip Hapa Homeez Facebook group page?

A: I tend to gravitate towards various groups and websites that either study and/or celebrate mixed roots (both ancestral and cultural). I’m a fan of pluralism and multiculturalism in general, and as I celebrate these things and seek to understand them as a whole, I think its just fitting that I tend to align myself with organizations and individuals who do the same. 

Q: How do you see multi-ethnic communities evolving--are we all on the same page?

A: Well, I really think that depends on the context, mainly the specific society as well as the cultural climate of that particular society. Here in the U.S., I think there is a growing awareness of just how “mixed” America really is as well as an increasing appreciation for that mixture. I also think that the acceptance of mixed “racial” and multicultural self-identification is on the rise, but I still think we have a long way to go until it is fully accepted. 

Q: What do you feel is the biggest obstacle between multi-ethnic people and the so-called mono-racial community?

A: In the U.S., I think the biggest problem is that these communities don’t really understand each other. The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 did A LOT of widespread damage to our social fabric, as it not only helped ensure that “mixed” marriages were illegal, but it also rendered mixed “racial”/ethnic heritages virtually invisible to many people in the United States. I think it is largely because of this that the idea of being of mixed ancestry and claiming an identity that refuses to choose or favor one of those ancestries in particular is virtually inconceivable to many individuals—sadly, this includes many people who are themselves of mixed ancestry. 

Q: Do you think that humans will move beyond racial, or even cultural, identification some day?

A: I really cannot say for certain. I think historically, in virtually any and every society, people have always found ways to divide and separate themselves from one another. But I also think that awareness and acceptance of multiple lineages is becoming much more prevalent today in many societies around the world. Also, as time progresses, we seem to be becoming global citizens (as opposed to simply national citizens), so anything is possible really. 

Mucho gracias, Senior Lopez, for your informative insight.

If our readers haven’t already done so, please join us at our Facebook group Hip Hapa Homeez where you can engage in meaningful dialogue about anything dealing with multi-ethnicity, transracial adoptions and crossing cultures. You can also “like” our Watermelon Sushi Fan page, which supports our Watermelon Sushi film. And, we have a Hapa*Teez t-shirt Fan page, too! The t-shirts, themselves, are available at CafĂ© Press.

And, we’re still running our Cousin Oprah Campaign via Twitter. Here’s the link to the HUB page and the "twitition".

Mad love and props to the folks at the African American Playwrights Exchange for bestowing the Trailblazers Award on Your Hip Hapa. Please support this great organization!

Until next month, I am and always will be

Your Hip Hapa,