You Don’t Look Japanese/Swedish/Chinese/Polish/Indonesian/Irish!

Ten years ago I created a now-defunct website called You Don’t Look Japanese!. (Actually it’s still up; if you want to look at it, you’re going to have to find it yourself.) Dedicated to all things biracial and mixed-race, one of the people who got in touch with me was Kip Fullbeck, a hapa performance artist. Now Kip’s come out with a new book: Part Asian • 100% Hapa, featuring 116 portraits of hapa folks, who looks range from pure Asian to vague ethnic looks that lead strangers and acquaintances to ask the inevitable (and very tiresome) question: “what are you?” In an interview with Jeff Yang of Asian Pop, Kip touches on the topic closest to my heart: life as an ethnic guessing game, particularly for those whose looks aren’t quite Asian enough to qualify for true ethnic membership in the minds of the outside world, yet have enough otherness to them to provoke rude/humourous/bizarre comments. (“Japanese? No–that’s not it.”)

So–go out and buy the book and get a tiny glimpse of the crazy-quilt life of hapas, when even your own sister can call you a honky during a fight and truly mean it.