Willkommen in der Borderlands!

Honey and habanero, Haole privilege and Native inequity, European modernity and Asian tradition, Hawaiian shark and Tsalagi wolf, fragility and strength: these are just some of the antipodean factors that create a vertically-challenged, American passport-bearing, hapa Womanist with an addiction to languages, mangoes, travel, and kitchenexperimentation. ‘the UNchecked other’ refers to my dissent to the notion of being defined by those ubiquitous ‘check one’ race boxes—compliance would mean the negation of all the colours and flavours that make me the tasty global salad that I am. In whatever I do, I fight to uphold the truth in Albert Schweitzer’s and Elie Wiesel’s words: “We must never permit the voice of humanity within us to be silenced. It is man’s sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a man” and “This is the duty of our generation as we enter the 21st century—solidarity with the weak, the persecuted, the lonely, the sick, and those in despair. It is expressed by the desire to give noble and humanizing meaning to a community in which all members will define themselves not by their own identity but by that of others.”

To be hapa is to live in the borderlands, and to exist in these amalgam lands means that I refuse to check one box in those optional race questions on forms. To choose one race over the other would be to negate the other parts that make me, me. If I check other, it would imply that hapa people such as myself have no place that warrants being named. In my cultures—Native or otherwise—not having a name means that you neither exist nor matter. Unseen and unheard, you are a ghost, stripped of the dignity of what it is to be human.

Conversely, I refuse to say I am a quarter this, half that, or part these. Hapa identity is a whole identity that is made from whole ethnicities, races, cultures, traditions, and people. I refuse to be divided into neat little fractions
. My ancestry comes as a whole and manifests its influence over me in a uniquely all-encompassing hapa way.

With my held held high, I choose to be the UNchecked other

We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl