What It’s Like To DNA Test As A Multiracial Womxn

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I did it.  

I took a DNA test.

I spit in a little vial, wrapped it in the paper envelope they gave me, and mailed the whole thing away. Despite knowing DNA tests are white-biased and notoriously bad at identifying the heritages of People of Color, despite knowing I was giving my DNA to complete strangers to analyze—I did it, anyway.

This is not a post explaining the details of DNA test science because others have already done so. I’m not here to write about which companies my family and I used because this isn’t an advertisement and anyway none of the companies are great at the moment. I’m also not going to critique the way DNA tests reinforce the erroneous belief that race is biological because, though we really need to talk about that, I have a different goal at the moment for my 1,000ish word limit. Specifically, this post is about how DNA testing can impact a biracial person’s sense of identity . . . 


The Hapa Tales Tour: Elliott Bay Reflections


Photo by Devon de Leña

Last Wednesday, September 19, we launched Hapa Tales at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. A typical author event at Elliott Bay, they told me, averages around 30 people. But for our event, an astonishing 120 people showed up to celebrate, twice as many as I’d hoped for. Three rows of chairs were added at the back of the room. Elliott Bay sold out of books. The following day, Third Place Books (the only other local store carrying Hapa Tales to my knowledge), had two copies left. The night was uplifting and inspiring, and my heart is fuller than it’s been in a long, long time. 

Continue reading “The Hapa Tales Tour: Elliott Bay Reflections”

YOU’RE INVITED! Hapa Tales @ Moon Palace, Minneapolis MN

Hapa Tales Moon Palace (FB)

I’m super excited to head to Minneapolis next month for a special Hapa Tales and Other Lies event at Moon Palace Books! This will be the second stop on my book tour where I’ll be joined yet again by some radical Mixed Race performers: Meghan Kreidler & Diane MillerNicola Koh, and Marcelle Richards (see their bios below). The Twin Cities is a really special region of the US for Asian American artivism. Of all the places I was asked to come do an event, this was the place I was asked to visit the most. So, I’m really looking forward not only to sharing my work, but also engaging with and learning about the artist and activist community in MN. Please come out and join us!

Hapa Tales and Other Lies at Moon Palace
Sunday, October 14, 2018

Moon Palace Books
3032 Minnehaha Ave.
Minneapolis MN 55406
(612) 454-0455

This event is free and open to the public. 

Facebook Event Page: Hapa Tales Launch @ Moon Palace


MUSIC / MEGHAN KREIDLER ~ Meghan is an actor and musician based in the Twin Cities. She has worked with Theater Mu, Mixed Blood Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Children’s Theatre Company, Ten Thousand Things, Theatre Latte Da, Workhaus Collective, Park Square Theatre, and History Theatre. She is a Monologue and Teaching Artist with Penumbra Theatre’s Race Workshop. Kreidler is a graduate of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre BFA Actor Training Program. She is a recipient for the 2017 Ivey Award for Emerging Artist and Overall Excellence in Ensemble with Mixed Blood Theatre’s production of Vietgone. She was also named 2017 City Pages Artist of the Year. When Meghan isn’t performing in plays you can see her front local rock and roll band Kiss the Tiger. www.meghankreidler.com www.kissthetiger.com


MUSIC / DIANE MILLER ~ Diane is a singer, songwriter, rapper, writer and talent buyer. Her work has been featured on MPR, NPR, Music Blog, Prairie Public, City Pages, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, TEDxFargo, and countless more regional media blogs and sites. She’s been voted “Best Musician” by her peers in Fargo, ND. Her band D Mills & The Thrills has several times been noted “Best Original Band” of Fargo and “Best Hip-Hop Group” of North Dakota. Diane recently moved to Minneapolis to pursue music as a performer, writer and booker. Prior to pursuing her passion for music in Minneapolis, she served as the editor-in-chief of High Plains Reader, Fargo’s alternative newsweekly, and as director of The Aquarium, Fargo’s premiere indie music venue.


STORY / NICOLA KOH ~ Nicola is a Malaysian-Eurasian and Tetris demigod with two master’s degrees in Protestant theology which they lost their faith getting and an MFA from Hamline. Their work has appeared in Crab Orchard ReviewSouthwest ReviewSweet: A Literary Confection, and others. They were a 2018 VONA fellow and a finalist for the 2017 Glimmer Train Fiction Open.


CEREMONY & WORDS / MARCELLE RICHARDS ~ Marcelle is a mixed race (Korean and white) genderfluid writer, shamanic practitioner, freelance editor, and self-taught artist. They were born in Honolulu, HI, and spent most of their life in California and Madison, WI before moving to Minneapolis last November. Their writing is informed by their travels, which have taken them across the U.S. and abroad; this fall, they will conduct ancestral and spiritual research in Korea. They have a B.S. degree in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where they were a UW-Madison Writing Fellow. They were a food and features writer for several years for Isthmus and Our Lives Magazine in Madison, but their storytelling is now taking a turn for more experimental and expansive forms.

Crazy Rich Asians & That “Pesky” Mixed-Race Thing


Crazy Rich Asians, if you haven’t heard, is the ENORMOUS rom com of the moment. It features the first Asian-majority cast in a Hollywood blockbuster since The Joy Luck Club (1993), is being hailed by critics, and seeing stunning success at the box office. The film raked in $35 million opening week. It has shown impressive staying power since, becoming one of the most successful rom coms in years, and proving to white-dominated Hollywood yet again that diversity sells, but also that said diversity should include Asians.

Based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling trilogy by the same name, Crazy Rich Asians is the Cinderella story of Asian American professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) who flies to Singapore with her boyfriend for a wedding and discovers that her longtime beau, Nick Young (Henry Golding), is actually from an uber-rich Chinese Singaporean family. However Rachel is not easily accepted by Nick’s aristocratic family and friends, particularly by Nick’s protective mother Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh), and the happy young couple find their love put to a very difficult test.

Despite the movie making cinema history, there has been criticism. Understandably so. Crazy Rich Asians is unquestioningly opening doors, but there are concerns about which doors.  Naomi Ishisaka writes in The Seattle Times that the movie is “a love letter to the excessives of capitalism.” Brown people appear only as servants to light-skinned Chinese elite which, notes Sangeetha Thanapal, perpetuates “the state of racism and Islamophobia in Singapore.” Meanwhile the film is meant to appeal to Asian Americans broadly yet 60 percent of Asian Americans are South and Southeast Asian.

I would like to add a very real concern to the list: How Mixed Race Asians are included, marginalized, and/or excluded in conversations about Asian America…



Following is the Preface, entitled “Morning,” from my new book Hapa Tales and Other Lies

It’s dark morning. Early. Clock ticking. Brain whirring. That first cup of coffee tastes so damn good. Second or third cups never taste right. I don’t know why. There’s not much I like more than early, dark, quiet mornings with my thoughts, my piles of books, my writing.

In a few weeks we’re going to Hawai‘i, and I’m thinking about my last visit, to Kaua‘i, all those years ago. Oh, man. Those were some of the best early dark mornings. Just me and the soon-to-be husband in a little yellow house across the street from a little beach.

He doesn’t get up early. He’s a night owl. Which works for us. It’s just me, and it’s good knowing he’s sleeping nearby. Then the wet, warm air sitting with me like an old, soft blanket. The sound of the ocean, the rhythm of her movement, an old familiar friend. And the chickens. Which sounds stupid and was, kind of, at first. But quickly, easily, their cluckings and crowings just became part of it all. I don’t remember anymore what I thought, read, or wrote, those early mornings in Kaua‘i all those years ago. Did I write? But I remember the air, the sounds, the ocean, the chickens.

Continue reading “Morning”

Third Blurb for Hapa Tales! by Rudy P. Guevarra Jr.


Very honored to share this powerful praise for Hapa Tales by Rudy P. Guevarra Jr., Activist and Associate Professor of Asian Pacific American Studies at Arizona State University:

Sharon Chang’s novel is a powerful, self-reflective testimony on the complexities of racial belonging and what it means to be home. Navigating her identity across the continental U.S. and Hawai‘i, she reminds us that the fluidity of multiplicity is oftentimes confronted by the rigid expectations and ignorance of others, which lends to a deeply introspective account of what it means to be an Asian Mixed Woman in multiple settings. Chang is also quick to remind the reader of her own role both implicitly and explicitly, that comes with confronting race, racism and indignity when visiting a settler colonial island state. Hapa Tales and Other Lies is a wonderful addition to the growing body of literature of critical mixed race studies.

Among many publications, Rudy is author of Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities In San Diego (2012), co-editor of Red and Yellow, Black and Brown: Decentering Whiteness In Mixed Race Studies (2017), as well as co-editor of the newly released Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race In Hawai‘i (2018). Given his vast experience and work in the field of critical mixed race studies, these words for my book are incredibly profound and important. Rudy will also be teaching Hapa Tales in his undergraduate class “Mixed Race Experiences” this fall! I am beyond grateful for the support of such a wonderful scholar and thinker.

My Untold Story of Acute Postpartum Anxiety


Last month I went to hear Angela Garbes, author of Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science & Culture of Pregnancy, speak in Seattle. At her talk, the Filipino American writer shared her experiences and addressed the ways society does not support mothers after their babies are born. It was amazing to watch a Brown Womxn stand before a packed room and speak openly about her body, life, and research. It made me consider how important our stories of pregnancy and childbirth are as Womxn of Color. Childbirth was a long time ago for me. My son is eight years old about to enter third grade. Yet watching and listening to Garbes lead me to realize … I’ve still never told my story. Especially the part about how I suffered acute postpartum anxiety after giving birth and for a full miserable year following.

In 2009, my son’s labor and birth went fast, spanning only six hours from start to finish. Having spent many nervous months anticipating the arrival of our first and only child—and worrying about everything that could go wrong—my husband and I counted ourselves lucky. We had not endured complications, a 36-hour labor, or cesarean section, like we had feared. There had not even been enough time to administer pain medication. Marveling at how “easy” it had all been, I remember taking a shower, emerging from the hospital bathroom, and proclaiming I felt great.

That would soon change …


YOU’RE INVITED! Hapa Tales Launch @ Elliott Bay, Seattle WA

Hapa Tales Launch (FB)-3

It’s been over two and half years since I was last at the lovely Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle doing an author event. Overjoyed to announce I’m returning to this awesome, indie venue to launch my second book Hapa Tales and Other Lies: A Mixed Race Memoir About the Hawai‘i I Never Knew on September 19! As always, it’s very important to me to put on events that are community-collaborative; that share space while uplifting the work of others. So I am thrilled to also announce my launch will include four amazing Pacific Islander, Indigenous, Asian Am, and Mixed Race womxn/femme performers: Kalei‘okalani OnzukaSelena VelascoMarian Macapinlac, and Moonyeka (bios below). I’m more excited for this beautiful evening of music, dance, and words by womxn/femmes of color that I can express. Please do come join us next month: witness the beautiful performances of my sisters, hear me read from Hapa Tales, talk about the book’s inception, answer questions, purchase your copy and get it signed! We can’t wait to see you …

Hapa Tales and Other Lies Book Launch
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 – 10th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122 
(206) 624-6600

This event is free and open to the public. Doors open 6:30p.

Facebook Event Page: Hapa Tales Launch @ Elliot Bay


CEREMONY & DANCE / HA‘API‘I KALEI‘OKALANI ONZUKA ~ Kalei‘okalani is founder and instructor of Huraiti Mana, a Polynesian dance troupe based in Seattle. Born and raised in Wai‘anae, O‘ahu, Kalei is of Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), Japanese, Chinese, and Black heritage. She began dancing at six years old with Lokelani Polynesian Revue in Nānākuli. After her ‘uniki, Kalei continued training with Polynesian Dance Troupe Ma‘ohi Nui, the Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Campus Hawaiian Ensemble and with Aunty Makalapua of Hālau Hula ‘O Mililani of Wai‘anae. From her move to Washington in 2009 until 2016, Kalei taught Tahitian, hula, and Samoan dances at Seattle University for the Hui ‘O Nani Hawai‘i club. In 2016, she began teaching hula for Arts Corps and Families of Color Seattle (FŌCS). With Huraiti Mana, she opens her independent teachings to students of all ages, learning from each and instilling in each significant values of cultural exchange and identity.


PERFORMANCE ART / SELENA VELASCO ~ Selena is a Chamoru mother, queer nonbinary femme artist, poet and organizer, residing on occupied Duwamish/Coast Salish territory, who creates art through mixed media, collage, poetry and dance. Their art centers survivorship, reclamation of chamoru indigeneity, bodily autonomy, affirmations, and healing for queer and trans black, indigenous, people of color. Selena uses flowers throughout their art to honor matriarchs, queer and transcestors that came before them. They love practicing revolutionary parenting with their child, eating sweet treats and being a tender virgo.


MUSIC / MARIAN MACAPINLAC ~ Born and raised on Guam, Marian cut her teeth on sacred music, but in her teens turned to the church of rock ‘n’ roll. She is in several active Seattle bands including Spinster, Hotel Stella, and BFFs Forever & Ever Amen. She volunteers year-round with Rain City Rock Camp for Girls and is an advocate for the visual and performing arts at all levels of ability.


DANCE / MOONYEKA ~ Moonyeka is a sick and disabled queer Filipinx femme street-styles dancer who utilizes art creation and organizing to realize a more inclusive and intersectional world for the communities she comes from. Her current projects for 2018 include expanding WHAT’S POPPIN’ LADIEZ?! into a mentorship program for young brown femmes of color, “In The White Frame”, a work exploring the multi-racial experience in “post-racial” America that will be premiered at Northwest New Works. She is a teaching artist for Arts Corps + Spectrum Dance Theater, and coaches LIL BROWN GIRLS CLUB.

Seattle Women’s March 2.0


I’m waiting for the light rail in South Seattle on my way to Women’s March 2.0. Camera strapped to my side, the morning weather is typical for a Pacific Northwest winter. Overcast, low 40s, threat of rain always imminent. I’m having a lot of feelings that match the weather. Grey, cloudy, unsure. A year ago I chose not to go to Women’s March 1.0 because, while important, it did not feel inclusive for me as a Womxn of Color.

A year later that nagging sensation of being an outsider to the movement remains. But this time in Seattle we are being led by Indigenous Womxn who have asked the community to turn out. Which changes everything. When an Indigenous contingent requests allyship on traditional lands, you show up if you can.

From the start, though, I can feel my lungs being compressed. In this wealthy, fast-gentrifying city, white feminism hangs thick everywhere like diesel fumes in too much traffic. It’s hard to breathe…


Second Blurb for Hapa Tales! by Annmaria Shimabuku


Second Hapa Tales blurb is in! Very moved by this praise from Indigenous Okinawan author Annmaria Shimabuku:

Hapa Tales examines the entanglements of Asian American mixed race and settler colonialism. It shows how mixed-race people, suspending in a state of liminality, can too easily succumb to a desire for a “hapa” piece of the American pie. Instead of allowing this vulnerability to be used as a lever of exploitation, Chang develops a method of listening in everyday life that tunes into what Native Hawaiians have been saying all along.

Annmaria is a scholar at the crossroads of Okinawan literature, postcolonial Japanese studies, and literary/political theory. She publishes in both English and Japanese to engage both sides of the Pacific simultaneously. Erasure of Native Hawaiians is something I discuss at length in Hapa Tales. Similarly, Okinawans are internationally-recognized Indigenous peoples often subsumed and disappeared under the umbrella of “Japanese.” Annmaria looks at this phenomenon in-depth in her new book Alegal: Biopolitics and the Unintelligibility of Okinawan Life (out this November).