Multiracial

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “multiracial” means “made up of or relating to people of many races.” Coming into common use in the mid-1920s, “multiracial” initially referred primarily to relationships that spanned across racial groups or collectives of monoracial people from different racial groups. But this word has shifted meaning in the United States, particularly over the last 80 years. In the contemporary era, “multiracial” began in the late 1980s and early 1990s to refer more specifically to people of mixed racial and ethnic descent as individuals, i.e., multiracial or mixed-race people and identities. Many, more specific terms, have been used to describe people of mixed Asian and Pacific Islander descent: “mixed race,” “biracial,” “hapa,” “halfu,” and “Amerasian.”

“Hapa,” which comes from the Hawai‘ian term “hapa haole,” meaning “half white/foreigner,” is used in local parlance in Hawai‘i to describe people who are part Asian. Because it is a …

This essay may be found on page 174 of the printed volume.

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