Mixed Japanese - Hafu (The Halfie Project)

After watching Mixed Japanese by the Halfie Project, I decided to explore the term Hafu more as a Japanese Amerasian.

Mixed Japanese - Hafu (The Halfie Project)
Photo by Tianshu Liu / Unsplash

The Halfie Project is one of the first podcasts dealing with mixed Asian issues that I actually like. There is no fetishization of mixed Asians. A person can only handle so many videos about the benefits of being mixed Asian or who are the prettiest mixed Asians.

I added the Halfie Project video regarding Hafu below.


Some topics I wish would be covered more are related to my generation of mixed Asians, Amerasians:

Amerasian - Wikipedia

We get ignored a lot but in the 1990s, Ethnic Studies in the western US universities focused on us. Unfortunately, a group of mixed Asians, who I call “California Hapas,” did not want to be called Amerasians. As one “Hapa” told me, she did not want people to think her mother was a prostitute. There was a resentment of Amerasians because of this by other mixed Asians in the US.

It did not help that Vietnamese Amerasians dominated the news every April in commemoration of the Fall of Saigon (Liberation Day in Vietnam). When people thought of Amerasians, they always thought of Vietnamese Amerasians. There are other Amerasians, including myself, that are Vietnamese Amerasian. I was raised with Japanese Amerasians, Thai Amerasians, Korean Amerasians, to name a few.

At the University of Washington in the early to mid-1990s, I attended classes with many Japanese Amerasians who were military brats. There were some Vietnamese Amerasians as well. Our issues were discussed in class. It was a wonderful memory to be hanging out with other Amerasians.

Unfortunately, those mixed Asians that were not military brats pushed their own term, Hapa. Yes, they thought they could culturally appropriate a Hawaiian term. Even when Hawaiians were verbally telling them it was not the right thing to do, they went ahead.

Most of these California Hapas were raised in a privileged life, so they got what they wanted. If they wanted to use the term Hapa to describe themselves, they would not let lower class Hawaiians stop them. They nearly succeeded. You can read up more on Hawaiians won this battle at this link:

Hawaiian Hapas
Hapa is now been disfavored for other terms (Haafu for example). It was a victory for Hawaiians and Hapa is no longer acceptable to describe mixed Asians who are not half-Hawaiian.

Some continued to use the term but later accepted alternative meanings. Of course, Amerasian was not one of them.

Hafu / Dabaru

Some continued to use the term but later accepted alternative meanings. Of course, Amerasian was not one of them.

Hafu / Dabaru

In Japan, you started seeing the term Hapa used early on, but eventually it was replaced by Hafu. The latter being more pejorative. You still see some mixed Japanese calling themselves Amerasian, but Hafu seems more accepted.

I am still 50/50 on this term and 50/50 on the replacement, Dabaru. When I meet Japanese, I will either say I am mixed Japanese, my mother is Japanese, or bluntly, I am a Japanese Amerasian. I make sure the word Japanese is always included.

I cannot see using the term for myself, though because:

  1. Any content related to Hafus focuses more on this group being victims than anything. It is always about how Hafus does not fit into Japanese society. I want to see more stories of mixed Japanese fighting back.
  2. Hafu is normally mentioned with athletes, models, musicians, or other entertainment stars. This is the fetishization that annoys me.
  3. Hafus focus primarily on white race mixtures unless those with one African parent are a model, athlete, etc.
  4. Hafus means you are automatically beautiful. Another fetishization of the term.
  5. Hafus are aggregated as an entire group sharing similar experiences. Reality, mixed Japanese/mixed Korean do not share similar experiences as mixed Japanese/mixed white. How about mixed Japanese/mixed Black (blasians)?

I know Japanese Amerasians, and here in Vietnam, mixed Vietnamese/mixed Japanese children. I do not think I met a mixed Japanese who called themselves Hafu before. I just see them on YouTube. I also explored the term more in a past blog entry:

Am I Japanese Haafu or Amerasian?
A discussion on the mixed Asian term I describe myself. Do I use the popular Haafu term or a more traditional Amerasian term?

I will explore the term more. For now, watch The Halfie Project video below and be sure to give comments on their YouTube page.

Mixed Japanese: Hafu - The Word, The History, The Meaning

Mixed Japanese: Hafu - The Word, The History, The Meaning - The Halfie Project.

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