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Bullying in Hawaii: A State of Denial

BY SYDNEY ROSS SINGER - Does the Aloha State actually have a bullying problem? If you are Caucasian and from the Mainland, you will certainly think so.

It doesn't matter how long you live here, or if you were even born here. If you are white, locals will still call you a “haole”, a derogatory term that is Hawaii's equivalent of using the "N-word".

And the prejudice goes beyond name calling. White people are often treated with scorn. “Go back to where you came from”, seems to be the message. “You don't belong here.” Sometimes it results in violence.

White children in our schools are harassed, intimidated, and physically abused. The last school day of the year in Hawaii, for example, is traditionally called “kill a haole day”.

Racism is as ugly in Hawaii as anywhere else, and is the cause of much of the bullying of school children and adults alike. Unless this underlying racist cause of bullying is addressed, efforts to stop bullying are doomed to fail.

To overcome racism we must be inclusive and tolerant of differences. The diversity of cultures and peoples must be embrace and celebrated to find synergy in our differences. We must realize that we are all “one”, with no group more important than any other.

Achieving this “melting pot” in Hawaii will be difficult. Language and cultural barriers are keeping people apart, making Hawaii more a patchwork of different cultures than an integrated whole.

If these different cultures were living together, say, in New York, then they would all be called New Yorkers. They would share an identity despite their differences. But you can't do that in Hawaii, since no matter how long you live here you will never be a “Hawaiian”. That term is reserved for native Hawaiian people. Everyone else is just a “resident”.

Being native or not is an issue in Hawaii, and is a racial issue by definition. And while many native Hawaiians live with aloha, there are some who are resentful of what they see as foreign occupation of their islands.

If Hawaiians have first claim to these islands, then locals with Hawaiian blood have second claim, and immigrants, or aliens, have little or no claim. The stage is thus set for prejudice, racism, and bullying.

Of course, when alien people and cultures move in, they bring along alien plants and animals, too. Hawaii's diversity of species from all around the world is a direct product of human immigration.

It is no surprise, then, that prejudice against immigrant cultures will result in prejudice against immigrant species.

The Hawaii government's environmental policy gives preference to “native” species and has the agenda of “restoring native ecosystems”. While this native species supremacism is a national agenda, it has a powerful impact in Hawaii where it parallels political nativism and encourages racial prejudice.

According to this policy, species introduced to Hawaii after western contact are “alien”, and “don't belong here”. Species introduced to Hawaii by native Hawaiians are “native”, and do belong here. The current focus of environmental management is to get rid of immigrant species to return the islands to their pre-contact “native” condition.

To those who desire and appreciate these immigrant species, this feels like environmental bullying.

Of course, this reinforces the racism problem. The more the government institutionalizes native supremacism in political and environmental agendas, the more it justifies and encourages a "we belong here and you don't" attitude.

This is the recipe for hate, intolerance, and bullying.

For Hawaii to live up to its Aloha Spirit rhetoric, racial bullying must stop being tolerated.  The school anti-bullying program must address racial prejudice.  And there needs to be sensitivity classes to teach compassion and respect for others.

We must realize that what counts most about people is not where they are from, but what they have to offer.  Remember, "Aloha" means compassion, love, peace, affection, and mercy.

Short URL: http://www.hawaiireporter.com/?p=40669

150 Comments for “Bullying in Hawaii: A State of Denial”

  1. Funny how now there is a race problem in America now that the whites are the target....

  2. I lived in Maui as an adult in the mid-90s, and I can tell you anti-white racism was alive and well in Hawaii. When they call you "haole" they do it with the same tone of voice that racists in the South use when they use the n-word. It's dismissive, derogatory, and just as racist as calling Hispanics "wetbacks." All generalizations about race and origin are necessarily prejudicial. Unless you're a tourist and are paying for it, "aloha" for whites is a lie.

    For whites in the U.S., the experience of racial prejudice is just a concept, no matter how well intentioned and inclusive of minorities their attitudes and politics are. The good news is that Hawaii is the best place in the Union for whites to experience real racial discrimination firsthand. Living in Hawaii gave me a taste of what minorities on the mainland have experienced for generations, and it's awful.

    Ironically, the people who've harmed the Hawaiian non-white locals the most, are the non-white locals who sold out to all the big corporations and foreign investors. Rather than face that painful truth, it's easier and lazier to wallow in victimhood and vent their impotent rage on white "punching bags" where they can find them. Ironically, Hawaii state law has some of the toughest anti-discrimination laws in the U.S., but those laws exist to protect the locals who suffer discrimination, not whites who need this protection most in Hawaii.

    Spend your vacation dollars elsewhere.

    • "......people who've harmed the Hawaiian non-white locals the most, are the non-white locals who sold out...."
      So what about recent hearings of; Some Native Hawaiians express anger at federal government"

      First in a series of meetings held to discuss if feds should reintstate relationship with Native Hawaiians

      Read more: http://www.kitv.com/news/some-native-hawaiians-ex...

      • The federal government represents the big corporations and industrialists whom the non-white Hawaiian locals sold out to, c.f., Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and the doctrine of corporate personhood. These corporations will never give back to the Hawaiian people what has already been acquired. Holding meetings with the federal government is just an act of theatre to allow local activists to blow off some steam and get a few minor concessions that will amount to nothing in the long run.

      • So what's the solution? Abercrombie? You believe in him promising; "
        I am requesting authority to use general obligation bonds to obtain a conservation easement of more than 600 acres at the site. This guarantees these lands will remain open and free of development, and open to Public Access in perpetuity.
        Similarly, I am requesting general obligation funds to enable the state to work with a renewable energy company to purchase agricultural and conservation lands currently owned by the Dole Company – nearly 20,000 acres of open space between Wahiawa and Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu."

        Read more: http://www.kitv.com/news/politics/transcript-2014...

  3. Kameaike Souza

    its funny how hawaii has racism, but not more then 60 years it was ok for the caucasian race to kill african americans, by lyncing or drowning etc. Why is it also ok for white people to call black people the N word, and act like its part of the syllable. Why is it ok for the white race to bad mouth all minorities, but when they get the same treatment then it;s oh shoot we the minorities are the bad people. lol cmon

  4. I grew up in a small town on Oahu in the 1950s & 60s. Dad haole, Mom Japanese so made me hapa haole. My mother's brother was greatly embarrassed by having a haole in the family and made that known to his friends. I came in for some pretty miserable times. I was welcome in the home of one Japanese friend during high school. When I was younger one lady on our street gave cracker crumbs to my cousin and me and candy to the other kids for Halloween--she was Chinese. I wanted to learn Japanese and signed up for class when it was offered in high school. One day the teacher gave me a Japanese name to use in class and smirked as he told me to be careful how I pronounced it. The girl next to me gasped and after class told me it could be mispronounced to mean something crude and obscene. She was Japanese born in Japan and I was so grateful for her friendship and help to make it through that class. The teacher was local Japanese. What a poor excuse for an educator. I had enough excellent teachers to get a good high school education--some local and some from the mainland. It was such a relief to go to the University of Hawaii and meet a more diverse group--students and educators. I went to the mainland for graduate school and ended up staying. Growing up hapa haole in a small town in post WWII Hawaii was an experience I would not wish on anyone.


  5. i moved from the mainland to hawaii, and i'm japanese-american.
    there is some racism mostly towards haoles or if you don't speak the local dialect pidgeon, which i don't.
    but where ever you move there will be some of that going on.

    attitude is everything. the way i figure it, i've encountered way more nice people than bad apples.
    so i'm not going to let those folks ruin my day.

    among haoles i've noticed some come here and do not adjust their ways. things are different here and you must respect the local culture and how things are done. if you don't open your eyes and try to get your way, people will resent it.

    on the other hand, i've met haoles that have been here a long time, and their attitude is completely different.
    they blend in with the ways things are done here, and embrace what the culture has to offer.
    surely they as I have encountered some sour grapes, but can't let that get you down. focus on the positive.

    yes it sounds trite but your attitude and what you make of it will determine what comes your way.

    • i get what your saying with adjust to hawaiis ways but why is it that when people from hawaii go to another state for example they dont change their ways and they dont try to blend in they come dressed in their same attire and speak their pigeon

  6. You gotta understand, I'm hawaiian and from hawai'i. Haole means foreigner its not just white people. Remember now da hawaiians were like african americans and indians also da mexicans . I don't condone it its just how would you feel if the foreign people disrespected your ancestors and the land of the islands?

  7. With a well executed plane like you explain, I'm surprised you ever had an issue here and are not running for King of Hawaii... or are you just all waha?

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