Thursday, March 15, 2018

Prejudice in Hawaii?

More Questions from "J" ...........
"Is it hard not to be ethnically Hawaiian? Is there any hostility towards non Hawaiian people?" 

I gather that "J" is thinking of possibly coming to Hawaii ! 

First of all, everywhere I've been to in the past I've seen prejudice behavior towards one group or another. It's a sad statement, but as a species, we aren't very civilized yet. So, does prejudice exist in Hawaii? Sure. Let's explore that a bit. 

Is it difficult living in Hawaii when you are not ethnically Hawaiian? I don't think so. It hasn't been a problem for me. But I'm sure it could be for some people. By far the vast majority of the population here is NOT ethnic Hawaiian. Lots of Japanese. Chinese, Mexican, Portuguese, and Filipino. To a lesser extent, Polynesian, Micronesian, and lots of others. And most people are mixed. Hapa this, hapa that. Yup, we're mostly mongrels. Very few purebred anything, including pure Hawaiians. By the way, true Hawaiians make up a very small fraction of the population here. But I've met plenty of people who claim to be true Hawaiians but have very little actual ethnic Hawaiian in their bloodline. So things are quite murky. 

Is the hostility due to prejudice? Some. Sadly, Hawaiian families tend to bring up their children to be resentful and often prejudice. And "local" families pass on their prejudice feelings about ethnic minorities, especially Micronesians and caucasian mainlanders. Most of the hostility occurs with the young people, especially in the schools. But adults can be quick to display their dark side in the right situations. I've witnessed their prejudices erupt into vocal outbursts and hostile physical displays. I've seen the results of bullying and outright physical fights. But I can't say that it's real common and visible. Back in NJ I saw far more open prejudice against the Blacks and Puerto Ricans than I see going on here between ethnic groups. But any prejudice, however minor, is ugly and totally not acceptable! 

To date I've gotten along with most groups here. That includes many Hawaiian families, though I've found that breaking the ice with their community was a bit more difficult initially. But I've never been fearful being around Hawaiian families. In fact, the only time I've had any trepidation being with any group was when I've had to deal with criminal drug users. Now....those are people that can be dangerous and it doesn't matter what their ethnic make up is! 

 So "J", being anxious about being non-Hawaiian isn't necessary. But perhaps one should be aware that any newcomer to Hawaii will need time and conscious effort to adapt. It's not like moving from Oregon to Washington state. There's a somewhat different culture going on here compared to the mainland. And to make it a bit more "interesting", each island has its own tweaks. 

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