HapaSC redefines race and ethnicity

first_imgThe social community club, HapaSC, is repurposing the question of race and ethnicity to allow students of mixed ethnicities to define themselves in their own terms.HapaSC is hosting The Hapa Project on Trousdale Parkway from March 31 to April 2 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to open up conversations about stereotypes and foster respectful conversations about race.Students can take pictures and write their own definition of who they are on the picture.Jamie Kwong, communications manager of HapaSC, sees the pictures as a platform for those with a multicultural background to define themselves.“People should be able to define themselves and not have to be asked what they are,” Kwong said.  “It’s important on such a diverse campus to kind of include the third race into all that goes on at USC already.”The Hapa photo book, created by the artist Kip Fulbeck, inspired Aly Tsui, the president of HapaSC, and Elisabeth Gilmore, vice president, to bring the Hapa Project to USC.Fulbeck began the project in 2001 to photograph over 1,200 volunteers throughout the nation who identify as Hapa. HapaSC saw the effect the project had and wanted to replicate that effect at USC.Tsui said that there are many ways to define yourself and there is no right or wrong answer.“When people ask you ‘what are you?’ there are so many ways that you can respond that may or may not be what they’re looking for,” Tsui said.“By doing it in a way like this we’re giving the student the power to find out themselves,” Gilmore said.As a club dedicated to inclusivity, HapaSC was created to connect multiracial students and to create an environment where members can openly discuss what being multiethnic means to them.“I think [the purpose of HapaSC is] having a community like this on campus where those people that kind of fit into this, kind of fit into that, but don’t really fit in to either, can come and have a place to call home,” Kwong said.HapaSC was formed to create a safe space for multicultural students to discuss their experiences.“Friendship is something we really want to focus on because I think the friendship level is where barriers start to get broken down,” Gilmore said. “It’s also about raising awareness for people of how to be more respectful when talking about those types of things, or also acknowledging that it even exists.  I think a lot of people categorize it that they’re so exotic or cool but, it’s still an ‘other’ not an ‘us.’”Each week HapaSC focuses on different ethnic mixes to break down barriers between ethnicities.  The goal is to create a collective consciousness to beat the identity crisis, as students of mixed ethnicities are sometimes pressured to choose between one of their identities.“I think most people that come from a unitary race background don’t necessarily comprehend what it’s like to grow up with two very distinct cultures. It is a really interesting experience growing up because you’re constantly balancing obligations and expectations from two sides of your family or maybe even more than that,” Tsui said.HapaSC serves as a resource for multicultural students to explore their mixed backgrounds and experiences, discuss the growing presence of multicultural people in society and provide service opportunities catered to serving those in the Hapa community.“We want to address a segment of society that is not talked about as much and is not really given the credit it necessarily deserves,” Tsui said.last_img