Whenever we travel as a family, people often give us a perplexed look as they stare at both of our children and then back at us. “What is your ethnicity?”, is the usual question. My children are not only part-Arab, but Hawaiian, Filipino and Puerto Rican, making for one interesting mixed ethnicity.
Being born and raised in Hawaii, I have noticed that the majority of the children of those born here are all mixed too. It would be rare to find a pure Hawaiian or pure anything for that matter. You see, Hawaii’s history of welcoming immigrants from China, Japan, Philippines and Korea spans way back to the 1800’s, when fruit and sugar plantations were big business which generated a rapid population growth in the islands.
In 1853, indigenous Hawaiians made up 97% of the islands’ population. However, by the year 1923, their numbers had dwindled to 16%, and the largest percentage of Hawaii’s population was Japanese.
My children, like many others growing up in Hawaii are all “HAPA”, which is a term used to describe a person of mixed ethnic heritage or that of part Asian or Pacific Islander descent. A common question amongst parents would be, “What’s your child’s ethnicity”?
“She’s Hawaiian, Filipino, Japanese, Portuguese, Irish, English, Scottish”, would be a likely reply.
This cocktail mix of ethnicity heavily influenced Hawaii’s local food scene, placing our islands on the map and introducing Pan-Pacific Asian cuisine around the world. The mixed-plate lunch, for example, is the epitome of how people in Hawaii lived and worked together. This plate lunch, served at practically every drive-in on the island was the most popular dish growing up. If you couldn’t decide what cuisine to eat (for example; Hawaiian) you could chose a mixture of three items (Laulau: Hawaiian/ Kalbi: Korean/ Teriyaki Chicken: Japanese) all with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad on the side. I mean, what island could you go to and eat several different cuisines on one dish?
I, just like my mother, remind our children daily to be “proud” of where they were born. Hawaii is a melting pot and growing up here is so very different from being raised in the mainland USA. As more and more Asian-Pacific Islanders leave their homes to travel abroad and to seek out new opportunities (just like their ancestors), the more likely you’ll meet children which exotic ethnicities.
There’s a very famous song in Hawaii called Mr. San Cho Lee that pretty much sums up the odd and clearly diverse relationships we have with each other in Hawaii. I heard it on the radio recently while guests were visiting us from out of town; “Oh, that song is so racist”, they said but to me, it was a honest representation of growing up in Hawaii. It is how we interact with each other on a day to day basis.
It’s because of this that our family embraces our mixed ethnicity: because the blood that runs through us has a history of perseverance from our ancestors who courageously reached for their hopes and dreams in a new land.
Let this month be a reminder as we celebrate the important impact that the Asian American Pacific Islander community has made on our Nation’s progress.
Welcome to our third annual Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series and Giveaway! Follow along all month for ideas about sharing with kids the rich cultures of this vast and varied region. Also, be sure to enter the giveaway below and link up your posts on our main page.
The Art Curator for Kids
Creative World of Varya
Crafty Moms Share
All Done Monkey
Colours of Us
Wise Owl Factory
Miss Panda Chinese
Crafty Moms Share
Enter Our Giveaway!
If a winner is drawn who is outside of the shipping area of a particular prize, that prize will revert to the next lower prize package or a new winner will be drawn. See our full giveaway rules.
From Tuttle Publishing:
Origami Zoo Kit: includes Book, 40 Papers, 95 Stickers, Zoo Map
Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age
Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 projects & ideas celebrating Chinese culture
From Miss Panda Chinese: Set of three learning units (75 page Chinese Number Unit 0 – 100, 30 page Days of the Week Unit, and 18 page Moon Festival Unit)
From Daria, World Music for Children: Set of pu’ili (Hawaiian rhythm sticks) plus a Make Your Own Pu’ili craft PDF. US Shipping Only
From Whole Wide World Toys: World Village Playset China, includes playmat, book, wooden puzzle figures, and story cards. US Shipping Only
Give good luck wishes with a Dumpling Mama lucky envelope. Envelopes have a card inside to write a personal message. Pack of 5 LUCK envelopes are for birthdays, graduations, and baby showers. Pack of 5 HAPPY envelopes are for weddings, engagement, and bridal showers. US/Canada Shipping Only
From Mikaya Press: Tah Majal, a story of love and empire. US Shipping Only
From Gestalten Publishing: The Honey Hunter, a modern day South Asian fable that teaches children to respect and appreciate nature.
From Quarto Group:
Journey Around the World, discover with Playmobil the most marvelous places on earth with this fully illustrated travel journal. US Shipping Only
C is for China, stunning photographic book capturing the rhythms of everyday life in China. US Shipping Only
I is for India, From Bollywood to Peacock, from Namaskar to Tea, this photographic alphabet is a celebration of India in all its vast and colourful diversity. US Shipping Only
Latest posts by Wendy Awai Dakroub (see all)
- Mixed Ethnicity: The Children of Asian-Pacific Islanders - May 2, 2016
- 5 Kid-Friendly Dishes from Lebanon - July 20, 2015