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“Ain’t nobody look like me”

May 8, 2009

        Last Friday for convocation, Carleton invited Kip Fulbeck- a very energetic and enigmatic person- to talk about his experiences growing up as a multi-racial person.

        Kip Fulbeck is an award-winning artist, slam poet and filmmaker. He is the author of "Permanence: Tattoo Portraits," "Part Asian, 100% Hapa," and "Paper Bullets: A Fictional Autobiography," as well as the director of a dozen short films including "Banana Split" and "Lilo & Me." He has also been featured on CNN, MTV, and PBS, and has exhibited in over 20 countries. His talks, or I should say interactions with people mostly revolve around the subjects of identity, multiraciality and pop culture, mixing together spoken word, stand-up comedy, political activism and personal stories. Kip is a professor of art at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has been named an Outstanding Faculty Member four times. He also enjoys surfing, playing the guitar and is a motorcycle rider, ocean lifeguard, and pug enthusiast. Most importantly, what makes Kip awesome is that he is also a nationally-ranked Masters swimmer.

       He also met with a few students over dinner where he completely engaged him in his talk about race. Now, this isn’t one of the usual talks where people get uncomfortable given the nature of the topic, however, Kip has a great sense of humor. He makes fun of stereotypes to keep the conversation on the lighter side, but in doing so, is also able to touch on many hard topics. In his talk “ What are you? The changing face of America” he challenged some of he preconceived notions people held about demographics in the US, and at the same time through his stories and stories of people in the Hapa project, he highlighted the difficulties of growing up as a person of multiple races. Not having anyone around who looks like you when growing up can be confusing. Its also frustrating if people keep asking you all the time what are you? His project called the ‘Hapa project’ is a collection of images of people of all ages and from all walks of life who are different- aka multi racial. He had them write “what are you?” and got some pretty interesting responses. Oh, btw, if you aren’t familiar with the word Hapa (like me before the convo)

ha•pa (hä’pä) adj. 1. Slang. of mixed ethnic heritage with partial roots in Asian and/or Pacific Islander ancestry. n. 2. Slang. a person of such ancestry. [der./Hawaiian: hapa haole. (half white)]. I highly recommend you check the link below when you have sometime- its really interesting to see how some the races of some people run in to two lines of the book. Also, you may find someone of the same heritage as you if you’re multiracial!

       Phase II, a Carleton student organization for multi-racial students also tried a similar project last term(which I think may still be in print). The group, is sort of a support network, and meets frequently to organize some fun events on campus or even just to hang out. The group is not by all means exclusive, and anyone willingot be part of it is most welcome. Aaron Kaufman, whose also blogs, is part of Phase II and could tell yo more about it.

To read more about Kip Fulbeck and his other projects go to http://www.seaweedproductions.com/hapa/default.htm