Three years ago, I attended the Mixed Remixed festival at the Japanese American National Museum and it changed my life. For the first time, being mixed race, multiracial, and hapa became normative for part of my day. Suddenly, my face, my story, and my genealogy were not simply a secondary part of my racial and cultural identity, they were the focus. Suddenly, I was able to define myself not in contradistinction to the cultural and racialized spaces I was in, but in solidarity and identification to the spaces I was in, sharing them with others who grew up as I have in a world of hybridity and hyphenation. It was at the JANM that I also met people who I've formed important social and professional relationships with. Now, my experience has gone full circle.
I volunteered to have my picture taken for Kip Fulbeck's 2017-2018 photographic project known as Hapa Me, not knowing whether my picture (which for the record, I don't love) would be included in the 2018 collection. I received an email a few months later telling me that I was either in the installation or in the book, or both. The suspense was killing me.
Today, I went to see for myself not just the infinite permutation of mixed race/hapa identity and also witness the newest stage of the Hapa Project (a project that once taught me the word hapa for the first time back in 2008 which changed how I saw myself and how I defined my own racial/cultural hyphenation), but even more important, I was now part of this photographic installation as a subject and participant and also as a hapa writer revisiting the very space where I first celebrated my own mixed race identity almost two years ago and where a year after that, I read one of my short stories with a panel of other hapa fiction writers. I feel like the conflation is now complete for me between artist, subject, object, observer, witness, and participant, which I'm deeply grateful for.