Take Two Multiracial artist and new father turns camera on kids in “Hapa” book follow up

In 2009, Justice Keith Bardwell of Louisiana refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple. When a local newspaper asked the justice why he refused to marry the couple, he replied, “My main concern is for the children.”

When asked the same question, “What would happen to the children,” Kip Fulbeck — filmmaker, photographer, spoken-word artist and author — said they might just become president.

As a multiracial American himself and a new father to a multiracial son, he wanted his son to grow up in a world more accepting of multiracial people. With his new book, “Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids,” Fulbeck, author of “Part Asian, 100% Hapa,” gives children an opportunity to express themselves and who they are.

“This is a project about identity,” wrote Fulbeck in his new book. “Let them tell me who they are and show me who they are on their own terms. And give them an opportunity to define themselves. Give them the opportunity I didn’t have as a child, and an opportunity I want my son to have.”

“Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids” features more than 100 children of mixed-race background, who are asked to answer the statement, “Who are you?”

“I wanted to capture the beauty of these children beyond their physical attributes,” wrote Fulbeck. “I wanted to shoot their enthusiasms, their playfulness, their messiness, their crankiness, their imagination, and their hope. I wanted to photograph them as them, not as them getting photographed.”

Along with the inspiring and charming images of the children, there are also handwritten statements from the children and first-person text from their parents.

One boy, Keyan, wrote, “I am brown like Barack Obama. One day I will be a pro football player and the President.” Others, like brothers Jake and Milo, don’t identify with race. They responded to the ‘who are you’ question by answering, “I am Ninja Jake. I am Zombie Milo. We are brothers. We battle monsters of all kind.”

Fulbeck also wanted to break down stereotypes about multiracial people because multiracial people are frequently only seen as “exotic” or “hybrid.”

“All too often, mixed-race people are already perceived as beautiful-because-exotic,” wrote Fulbeck. “We must be mindful that moving forward means not returning to making snap judgments about people based on factors that are only skin deep.”

In addition to his book, Fulbeck collaborated with the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles to present an exhibit under the same name. The exhibit, which opened on March 20, displays more than 70 portraits of multiracial kids.

Along with the portraits, Fulbeck conceptualized two activities to go along with the exhibit.

First, visitors can take an instant photo of themselves and answer the question “Who are you,” which will be placed on wires outside the exhibit. Second, visitors can place their handprint on a timeline of important dates and events related to interracial marriage and multiracial people. The exhibit will be at the museum until Sept. 26.

Fulbeck will make an appearance at JANM this coming June 12, the anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia. This decision banned anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, and is celebrated throughout the country as “Loving Day.” A full weekend of programming will be featured (see box above).

Originally from Hawai‘i, Eve Green now resides in Los Angeles. A self-proclaimed “quapa,” she is three-quarters Japanese and one-quarter Caucasian. Green is a gallery educator for the “Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids” exhibit at JANM.

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