Monday, April 19, 2010

Multi-culture re-examined

Many of us can recall a time where we've had to make a choice based on a pre-determined set of options that were not relevent or reflective of who we are. In many of these instances, at least for me, I've either settled with the answer closest to what I would've preferred, or indicated "other." In many of these instances as well, I didn't give it much more thought after making my selections, as the consequences were minimal.

What about when it comes to race or heritage?  What if you are of mixed blood? How do you identify yourself for the census and make sure you're represented? What do you select on a job application form? Which cultural club do you join at school? For some, it might not seem like a big deal. But for others, whatever selection is made is a statement about who you are and how you define yourself as an individual, and as part of a group.

At USC, students of mixed backgrounds have HapaSC (Hapa Student Community). The group's mission is to create a welcoming community for people of diverse backgrounds. The term "hapa" is a Hawaiian word meaning "half." The original definition referred to people who were half Asian/Pacific Islander and half Caucasian, but has now broadened to include people of all mixed races and ethnicities.

This Sunday, HapaSC will present HaPArt. The art show explores what it means to be mixed blood, and provides a chance for this relatively new identity group to find some commonality.

"If you're mixed, you don't really have one culture. It [HaPArt] is about multi-cultural artists and multi-cultural expression," explains Lauren Perez, PR officer and a member of HapaSC. Artists from around the country will share their experiences and definitions of "multi-cultural" in art forms as diverse as the people creating them.

In addition to visual art, the evening includes poetry and music by artists of mixed descent, as well as an interactive display where patrons will have an opportunity to contribute their own art and definition of what it means to be mixed.

While the event is focused on the experiences of those with multi-cultural heritage, Perez invites and encourages all to enjoy the art show. "Come out and see it. It's going to be different. It's about creating a place for diversity."

HaPArt takes place this Sunday, April 25 from 6-10PM at The Hive in downtown LA.


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