NOW Live from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center


My name is Rui and I'm Chinese and Irish

“What are you?”

It’s a question that a lot of people of mixed race get. They usually mean, “What is your ethnicity? Tell me because I can’t seem to figure out what you are based on my societal construct of race.”

I’m tired of getting this question. Identity can’t be summarized in just a sentence about race.

There’s so much more to it that gets left out of the conversation, and I think it’s time to take this question and reframe it into a conversation based around our stories rather than the perceptions of others: stories of race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, LGBTQIA+, social class, all of the above, none of the above, etc. I’m not here to ask, “What are you?” I want to know, “What is your story?”

Tell me your story in a short video, external blog post, or photo, and share it with me using the hashtag #myhapastory on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, or send a photo and under 250 words by email to, by August 18th, 2015. We are only accepting entries from individuals who are 18 years or older. We will feature submissions on #myhapastory to show that identity is far more complicated than just, “what are you?”

My name is Rui, I’m Chinese and Irish, and this is my story.

So, what is yours?

Find other hapa stories here.