(My Experience of) Racism in Hawaii

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Having grown up in the most multi-cultural city in the world, I lived amongst people of all races and creeds, beliefs and backgrounds. It was not uncommon to walk down the street and hear numerous different languages as smells of varying cuisines wafted towards me. In high school, I was actually a minority as a Caucasian.

And I loved it.

The Toronto I remember had a generally open attitude towards everybody and everything, no matter the colour of their skin, accent, or even sexual preference. At least I thought so, as somebody who wasn’t different in any of those ways, nor did I feel any resentment towards those who were.

Hawaii is also a very multicultural place, as recorded in all the guidebooks and evidenced on the streets. So I figured I’d feel right at home.

Not so.

Note: This article was originally published in 2007. It has since been updated for links and small tweaks, but the content remains the same. What you read here was my experience in 2007, after living on the Big Island of Hawaii for six months.

In the comments (which have since been closed), readers have reacted across the entire spectrum from solidarity to rage. It seems that racism in Hawaii is a very touchy subject indeed, and I apologize in advance if you feel my observations are incorrect. They are observations; nothing more, nothing less. 

A dozen years of full-time travel later, I have traveled through and lived in 55+ countries. I don’t know if the Hawaii I experienced in 2007 is the same today. 

I believe that each Hawaiian island (and even various places within each island) is very different. This was evidenced by my experience moving to the Kona side of the Big Island after having the experiences below on the Hilo side. 

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Okay, enough preamble. On with the show. 

Experiencing Racism in Hawaii

I had been warned that many of the native Hawaiians resent white people, known unaffectionately in certain circles as Haoles, which has a few literal translations, depending on who you talk to. Some Hawaiians have told me it means “colour of the dead”, and others have said it means “without breath” or “soulless one”.

One could surmise this is simply a physical observation of the white colour of the skin, which would have been foreign and sickly-looking to indigenous Hawaiians on the first arrivals of white people. Others could surmise that “haole” is a term of resentment, and quite frankly, that resentment is not unfounded! Hawaii’s history ain’t pretty, and why it is a part of the United States is beyond me.

But in my first few weeks here, I saw no signs of this resentment, and my limited dealings with the friendly locals actually debunked the myth in my mind.

But then I started to see and experience a different side of Hawaii. When standing at the side of the road once, a car full of Hawaiian “kids” (mostly adolescents) began jeering out the window, stopped the car, got out and threw things towards us (we were about 50ft away), and even started to run towards us looking for a fight. Lucky for us they spied another car coming and scurried back to their car for a getaway. But who knows what they would have tried to do if that car hadn’t come; we were well outnumbered and in a pretty remote area.  

A fellow who gave us a ride recently was originally from the mainland (also referred to as the “meanland” and “madland” depending on who you speak to) but who has lived in Hawaii for over eight years. He said to this day he still gets verbally (and at times physically) abused by the locals. He recalls that learning to surf was a challenge, since every time he got in the water, he was physically taken to task by the locals.

When we got out of his car, we asked if he wanted us to roll up the passenger window for him. He said he can’t: there is no window. Last week somebody broke it in the town centre of Pahoa and stole a pack of cigarettes sitting on the front seat. And the irony is he drives a very unique vehicle, so all the locals know it is him – it wasn’t just petty theft.

Since then, we have been glared at, stared at, and made attempts at conversation getting nothing but monotonic answers if we were so lucky to get verbal answers at all.

Walking by schools at lunch time is no fun; the kids yell and jeer and call names. “Go home, get outta here, Haole!”

My concern, is that those kids had to learn about racism from somebody, which means at least some of their parents are leaving a legacy of racism and resentment for future generations to carry on.

There Is History Behind It

Like I said, the local native Hawaiians may have good reason to resent white people, and I won’t delve into those issues here. As Canadians and Caucasians, we are outsiders here, and despite our best efforts to learn about Hawaii’s history respectfully and integrate ourselves, the average local doesn’t know that and sees yet another Haole trying to live the easy life on their island. I don’t blame them or even feel any resentment for this.

What I’ve Learned From It

What these lessons ring home for me is a whole new level of respect and admiration for others, historically and presently, who have sought out a better life and had to do it in the face of racial prejudices.

I always have stood in awe of immigrants who have left their countries to come to Canada (or the U.S. or any western country for that matter), leaving behind their culture, language, food, family, and familiarity for a better life…or to escape an unliveable life. To supplant yourself in a completely alien world, to learn new languages, to adjust to new customs, and to do it in the face of racism is a monumental challenge.

It takes courage, self-confidence, patience, persistence, and thick skin. In many ways these pioneers have paved the way for others to follow with less strife and pain. But I’m sure that was no consolation after coming home from a day of physical and mental abuse.

I always respected these people, and I have never been the one to judge or point the finger. But having seen the tiniest glimpse of what it is to be on other side of racism has given me all the more respect and admiration for the courageous few. It is an inspiration and to them I say “hurrah” and “thank you”.

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64 thoughts on “(My Experience of) Racism in Hawaii”

  1. Hey, kiddo. Sorry to hear about your experience with the locals. I’ve known more than one haole who has fled back to the mainland in the face of it. Bravo for sticking it out.

  2. Thanks for the kudos, Andrea! Like I said, if anything it has given me a newfound respect for others who have braved much more fearsome odds.

    • I was born in jamaica. My mother jamaican but my father white american. I was brought to the states at 2 years old in the south mind you. 48 yesrs ago. The names i was called the constant children black and white ganging up on me. I am not colored blind but i dont see color in people. I just see people. My heart is pure as my fathers who would help anyone of any race or religion. I have medium skin tone and my husband says i am one of a kind. None of us are to blame for what people did 100 to 5000 years ago. Love each other know we all bleed the same color. There can be beauty in so much if you choose to look and not let hate consume you.

      • “None of us are to blame for what people did 100 to 5000 years ago. ”


        Right. But recentments exist and they have roots. And colonialism in some countries, like in the African continent, only came about in 1975. Apartheid was not 100 yrs ago. If people [white people, colored, etc] who benefited from apartheid do not fight to change mentalities they are part of it.

  3. Hey Nora,

    I have just stumbled on to your blog via Digg, and think your idea of traveling and giving up the rat race is AWESOME. I have been thinking about doing this for some time, but need to work a couple more years to save enough to do it.

    I’m actually from Oahu, but came there via Korea–my birthplace–when I was 5. Being Korean in an island full of other Asians, even I experienced some acts of minor racism. It wasn’t much, nothing that really stands out in my mind, but I have come to understand that it was just kids lashing out at other kids in a very immature, hostile way. As I grew up, and those around me grew up as well, all of those problems with race pretty much disappeared.

    Although, Oahu is a very different place than the Big Island, which I know has a lot of racism towards Caucasians, or haoles. I have a lot of white friends from there, and they have had the same kind of problems you described. I know a white Portuguese woman, from the middle of America, who went to school out in Hilo, that has LOADS of stories just like yours. One group of young locals followed them back to a party trying to start a fight! When she told me that, I was shocked. I don’t know what else to say other than it’s disheartening, because with so little to offer besides idyllic Paradise (which can get boring after awhile), I thought the Aloha spirit would make its way through. Oh well…

    Just be careful on the Big Island, as i’m sure the locals there are much more aggro than the other islands.

    Oh yeah, I met my fiance out there on Oahu, and she’s from British Columbia. She’s never had any problems with being white on Oahu. Actually, she said she has never felt more accepted, as a Canadian, in the States.

  4. Thank you for sharing!
    I’ll admit, I am now located on the Kona (West) coast of the Big Island, and it’s totally different here. The locals are generally very friendly, and I don’t feel my personal safety is compromised at all.
    Maybe the difference comes with tourism. Both Oahu and Kona see a lot of tourists, whereas the Puna region of the Big Island is much more remote and less traveled to.

  5. Thank you for your honest courage in revealing this hatred.

    This is also rampant on the mainland. If you’re born white in the USA, you are considered guilty…

    By the way, the name is “white boy” or “white girl” on the mainland. You can hear the racism in the very tone.

  6. Hi Nora,
    I stumbled upon your blog and I love it – come visit us at ours if you get the chance…www.learningsustainability.blogspot.com
    We lived in Hawaii on Big Island for 4 years, and eventually left because of the racism. It wore us down. I had a few articles on our blog about it, and even that started drawing attacks, so I took them down. We’re about to embark on new adventures – I’ll be sure to begin reading your blog!
    Best – J.

  7. I have lived in Puna almost 7 years. I observed the racism within 2 weeks, and always maintained a humble attitude knowing others have endured, why not me. I have always been very clear in my heart that I came to learn and not bring my baggage of how it ought to be. But my good heart has been ignored. I am not wanted even though I am kind, helpful, progressive. People here are often exceptionally kind. And yet the lack of genuine openness is depressing. I come from a hugely diversified area, and my partner told me this was an international place. Not in a way that has any value or fun. I would rather be with open hearted people, I do not care what culture or color. Racism is living in the past, boring and non productive. If I quit loving every time some piece of shit hurt my heart…….Well, I am not giving up on life or love, but I definitely want a more mature lover than the Big Island.

  8. @Kristi – after 7 years in Puna, it seems that you have reached the end of your rope, and understandably so. So maybe the big question is…..where to next? (smiles)

  9. Do you really think those comparisons you drew fits your situation here?
    Try think about what the white people did in Hawaii and what the black people did in America. The two are complete different things.

    Go read the book “From a Native Daughter” by Haunani-Kay Trask before accusing the Hawaiians.

    • Causing harm to someone based on skin color is racism…What people believe they hate, they in fact commit themselves. My blood is native yet because my skin is pale, I have no rights to the lands of my ancestors…My own believe I should be pushed down harder than I already have been over the past 200 years. Not saying that I believe demonic hateful spirits of this planet care about the lands..selfish ignorant world full of people blaming everybody else without looking in the mirror…the lands of ‘my’ ancestors have been trashed either way…skin pale or not…my home and native spirit are fading…no-breath must be contagious and Hawaiians are coming down. Deny your family…Deny yourself…no-ha

    • I am a white local, not souless and not Hawaiian. I can pour on the pidgeon anytime with the best locals. Its all about just respecting where you are and where you should not be. Even the MAINLAND has bad areas. Most “locals” which could be a white local, asian or anyone else who calls Hawaii home. Give Hawaii a chance and it is really a special place. As for ANYTHING by Haunani-Kay Trask, DON’T BOTHER. She does NOT represent anything good. She is a HATER. Aloha lives here

  10. @Dan – I apologize if I offended you with my comparison. It was not meant to be a direct comparison….which is why I patiently point out that the Hawaiians have good reason to resent white people and that I don’t blame or harbour resentment towards them for it – at all. (maybe you missed that part).
    In fact, I have read about the atrocities that came upon Hawaii when the white man landed, and how the local way of life of the Hawaiians has been forever changed – for the worst. But like I also said above, I don’t want to delve into it in the scope of this article.
    Regardless of the historical reasoning, I was discriminated against (and in some cases violently so) for something I didn’t do. As are many other victims of racism. That is a valid comparison, and until you have been discriminated against in this manner you may not see it, but it holds true.
    I may have presented a very basic analogy in the article, but it is a raw sensation to be discriminated against – by children no less – and so this is a raw article.

    • I lived in Oahu for two years and yes it can be a dangerous place for whites. Asians and Hispanics are less targeted. A gang of 7 locals surrounded me at a park with my wife and were about to beat me to a pulp. I told my wife in Spanish to get away. They assumed I was a non-white and then politely left me alone. A young mother and her newly returned veteran husband didn’t have the same luck. They were severely beat near a Badkin Robbins because the wife had slightly bumped the locals car. Their newborn baby was spared a beating so I guess the locals are not that bad. Hawaii is beautiful because of the tourist and military revenue. Oahu would be another Samoa.

  11. you are lucky being a White guy and only have to deal with racism in such a small occasions. Imagine me, an Asian guy who lived in Alabama who get racially taunted everyday. Imagined that pains that I have gone through just being a minority. Stop blame the Hawaiian for being unfriendly. White people are the most racist group in the world. You guys wipe out the native indians, enslaved the blacks, putting the Asians in the railroad construction.

    Please don’t complain the small pains that you feel, my pains is 100 times more than yours. Believe me, majority of Hawaians are very respectful toward other cultures. After all, we are just human beings. We need to respect each others

    • I am sorry your experiences with a minority have left you so bitter. There has been racism from every group throughout time. One doesn’t become racist from the color of their skin. They’re taught to be that way through bad experiences like yours and from friends/ family.

  12. To follow my comments. I do resent any kind of racism toward any group. I have many friends from different ethnicity. In general, I do believe everyone is a little racist. However, with education and understanding of each others, racism can be solved easily.

    It is hard here in Alabama. So many people are just so uneducated and have never seen an Asian guy before. I am constantly being mocked, constantly getting physically abused. Many nights, I have thought about ending my life. But through prayers, I have grown stronger..If god really exist, please ask him to stop racism. I see the beauty in every culture. However, the media and propaganda have portrait Caucasian are the race that are superior. Other races are just inferior. How many heros in the movies are minority? There are just so much angers inside me toward White people due to years of suppressions. I am praying every night that I can forgive you guys, I pray to god for give me a courage to stand up for what I believe, the basic equality of human beings.

    Now if you are in my shoes, what would you do? Run away? My families are in Alabama. My grandparents opened a restaurant here 50 yrs ago. I want to move to California where less racism exist.

    Your experience in Hawaii is just insignificant when you compared to what Blacks or Asians have experienced in this country..for over 100 yrs..

  13. @Jeff – Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us here. But I am saddened that you didn’t get the point of the article, and instead suggested that my experiences in Hawaii were insignificant.

    I know they were insignificant.

    If you had truly read the article to the conclusion, you would have read that these small experiences (which I indeed recognize as insignificant in the grander scope of racism around the world) gave me a deeper respect for those who face racism every day.

    “To supplant yourself in a completely alien world, to learn new languages, to adjust to new customs, and to do it in the face of racism is a monumental challenge and one worth applauding….having seen the tiniest glimpse of what it is to be on other side of racism has given me all the more respect and admiration for the courageous few. It is an inspiration and to them I say “hurrah” and “thank you”.

    Those are my words from this post in case you missed it the first time.

    So to you Jeff, despite the fact that you didn’t truly read my post before coming to conclusions (kind of smacks of racism, doesn’t it????), I still stay “thank you”.

  14. Thanks for the reply. I am not saying that what you faced is insignificant in literal sense..I meant the racism that you encountered is pretty much secluded in one area in The U.S, and trust me, Hawaii is actually a pretty friendly place for most of people.

    However for me is different, almost anywhere I go in the U.S, I will face racism just by being Asian. Alabama, Ohio, Idaho, Texas, you name it..The only state that I can probably walk outside without being shot is probably California. So you tell me what should I do?

    I am not trying to compared your situation vs mine, nor to say your situation is no big deal. In general, I hate racism and racism is counterproductive. I see a lot of good people and bad people, and they are not related to your race or gender. There are good White or Asians and there are bad White or Asians. I look at specific person. And I try to contain my angers and not let my angers bias my view.

    I hate the fact that Asians are being prorraited as either Nerdy guys or Kung fu fighters in the mainstream TV. I hate that fact that Asians are only secluded in the engineer field in the work force even though many of them are very articulate and have leadership skills.

    Even though blacks face discrimination, but at least they have been accepted by the public as Americans. If you see an Asian guy on the street, would you even considered them as Americans even though they lived here for 3 generations?? When you see our constitution stated that all men are created equally….how is that make me think.

    Racism is a topic that I can talk about for whole day. But it is not something that I want to talk about too much. It stirred up too much pains in my heart when I talk about it. I just wish this world can be a better place. People can spread Loves instead of hates to each others.

    I read your article and I applaud the fact that you have gained a broader perspective in your life about racism. And the experience of being minority for the first time in your life.

    I will have a son by the end of this year and I really want him to grow up healthy. I hate to look into his eyes one day and see the pains in a little child’s face..Daddy, can you tell me why they are treating me differently in School? or daddy can you tell me why they throw stuff at me for no reasons, or call me names?? Such feeling of inferiority complex would probably haunt him for rest of his life…

    • You should come to Washington state. There is racism everywhere I agree however, for the most part the Seattle metro area is pretty relaxed about race, religion & even gender. There are always going to be that 1% of scumbags (I say that because they do not ever want to learn) but you might find a place for you with people that will stand up for you regardless of color.

  15. In general, I am not stating that racism is coming from White people alone. I have encountered racism from black, Hispanics and even Asians. I went to China this year, and I got discriminated for just not speaking proper Chinese. Merchants in China charged me 3x prices on everything when they looked at me. They knew I am from the U.S because of my poor Chinese and the way I dress (T shirt and jean). Ironically, I am not accepted in place where I lived in the U.S. I am a wondering ship in the ocean without an island to harbor onto.

    I hope your experience in Hawaii have made you a stronger and better person in the world. I know my experience have made me a better person and stronger person. But that doesn’t mean my children will turn out that way. I really don’t want the bitterness in their heart to ruin a person’s life and future.

  16. @Jeff – Thank you so very much for sharing, and for clarifying your position. I truly feel for you…not having a true feeling of comfort or safety – anywhere in the world. (As an aside, maybe New York city would be another place in the States where you could experience less racism…it strikes me as a very multi-cultural and more open-minded place to live, from my experiences there).
    But that’s not what it’s about…having to choose the least racist place to live so your son can grow up feeling normal…I understand your plight – if not literally, then I can empathize, with my limited experience in Hawaii. It’s unfair, and unjust.

  17. Thanks for replying. Meeting you online helps me cope with my pains. At least I know somewhere in the world there are people who are understanding of each others.

    I wish you the best in the future. And may we put all the pains and bad memories behind us and walk out to be a better person. After all, we are all connected in this world regardless of our skins and background..

  18. Made me tear up….what my parents went through coming to Canada….the racism my mom went through. The name calling, etc. It is very painful even to me – though I haven’t myself experienced it. I am so very thankful for them making the trek, but the pain and scars it left now for nearly 50 years is still very overwhelming.

    Sorry you went through that though 🙁

  19. I know this is an old post bought I thought I just say that I’ve been here for eight years, I came here at the request of local boy who I fell in love with. Since I’ve been here I’ve been treated quite poorly and with outright disdain and hostility at times. It’s been a terrible place for me and I too grew up in a multicultural setting where everyone was peaceful and got along just fine. Living here, I must say has been a completely different story!

    Racism here will continue as long as it’s permitted, winked at and glossed over. Whilst the Native Hawaiian’s have a right to be angry they do NOT have a right to stalk, harass or cause bodily injury due to anyone with a skin color or ancestry they don’t agree with. I feel these crimes should be treated as such instead of ignored and swept under the rug. It’s really very shameful what goes on in ‘paradise’

  20. @SadPlace – I’m sorry you’re still having trouble there, after 8 years and being partners with a local no less! Is there any light at the end of the tunnel for you? Any experiences that have been contrary to this, that keep you going? (or rather, staying)?

  21. Financial reasons keep us here for now. We are both applying elsewhere to leave the islands. I feel sorry for him because this shines a bad light on him and he is (obviously) not a racist himself.

    Don’t get me wrong, not everyone here is a nasty racist, there are good people here of all ethnic backgrounds but the nasty ones are just extremely nasty and very hard to take.

    Once we leave I will never look back but if I do it will be with bitterness.

  22. Oh by the way, I can totally relate to being glared at and stared at with the chilly responses. Very common here!

    Sometimes I have to wonder if some of these people are a little ‘touched’ if you know what I mean because it doesn’t seem normal to act that way.

  23. @SadPlace – When I left Hawaii, it was with a touch of bitterness on my tongue. I had found myself writing posts along the lines of “The Aloha is Gone” and this one.

    But I will admit, years on, that Hawaii is also a place I yearn to go back to – if for nothing else, than to have a bit of a “full circle” experience. I think there’s some magic there, regardless of the bad stuff.
    But when you’re mired in it, it can be tricky to see the forest through the trees. I hope you both find a new happy home soon!

  24. Most American whites lack a soul, or rather, their spirits are so underdeveloped as to make them “spirit-less.” In the next life, they will suffer very much.

    I’d like to live in an area of Hawaii, where there are very little Haoles (curiously rhymes with Ahole).

    • You are obviously on some seriously nationalistic serum my friend…Do you realize how racist and insulting you sound….
      So don’t leave your precious little beach, sit around all day playing ukulele, becoming morbidly obese, and hating the white man…yeah that’ll solve your problem

  25. As Long As It Is Permitted! Wow! When the Mayor permitted the dumping of “Raw Sewage” into the Ala Wai canal and it killed a real estate “White’ man nothing was published beyond the islands and it was brushed under the carpet along with the short term closing of Waikiki beach. Hawaii is the last frontier for reform legal and civil. You watch the “Dog” Chapman you can see the poverty and drugs which have taken over since the outlaw of weed in ’71. Hawaii is clueless! immigrants to these “Aloha” islands are constantly beaten up and taken advantage of if they don’t stay within their own groups. The police are as smart as a “Box of Rock” and after living there for 10 years I’d had enough! I did come from CA with a vision to help these people but after the inter net came in 2002 and the locals where able to be influenced by the story that the U.S. had an illegal election in ’59 to admit there country as the 50th state… well I believe the U.S. should Kick ’em out and let them just be another Aruba! Their two economies are Military and tourism… with those gone we’ll see (lol) In today’s Hawaii you have to but “Aloha” and keep your doors locked. Waikiki is the most targeted place in all the islands where the stupid locals will get high on ice and have fun steeling from the tourist because they know that the police will not pursue any of the cases after the tourist has left the islands. If planing a trip to Hawaii Watch out! After 10 years and being accepted there buy the locals I could go on and on but enough all it does is raise my BP. I will never return there they don’t deserve mo patronage until the government learns to be enlighten by the obvious truth. The “Super Shuttle” scam with Gov. Lingle (lol) 5 day emergency law change for profit. Now they’re shipping their trash to the mainland because the locals don’t want any more dumps! Don’t feel protected there because it is the 50th state After what Mayor Mufi said that Hawaii take the fund for a rail system but could care less about the opinion from the mainlands (Who were made up of 90% island comments) Texas firm on how to spend it. Well I’ve heard of the arrogance as tourist in the Pardon experience but the locals don’t take the effort to see their own. it’s just a sign of the absence of intel. Peace out…………….

  26. Soulless? Trust me, I have a soul… that’s ridiculous. I’m not Jeffery Dammer, or those who commit racial hate crimes (which one white inch of me has never done by the way), yeah, I’d call THEM soulless. I have spent over 30 years of my life in Hawaii… the Big Island in particular. I went to the same School in Puna from Kindergarten through High School. It is where I had experienced most of my battle with racisim. Not only from Hawaiians, but samoans, asians, hapa’s… any other race was excepted but mine… “the haole”…funny because I’m actually hispanic. I cannot tell you how it’s greatly affected the way it’s shaped me, after years and years of it. I was teased, bullied, called names… horrible names, physically assaulted, harrassed and slowly became ashamed of my own ethnicity. All this simply because my eyes were blue… nothing more. I remember once a teacher showed an “education film” of how the Hawaiian monarchy was over thrown. Being the only haole in class, I could feel the hate steaming through the room from the local kids when it was over. It was my assigned Hawaiin History class, not a choice. Why would a Teacher do that? It was like giving amo to fuel the locals who already dispized me. I never saw a film when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor! The larger group of Japanese students may of felt the same akwardness… just saying. And so I endured until finally graduating. I left to the States humble, knowing the pain of racism;I had a taste of what being the minority felt like. Despite all that, my father always taught me to treat others as I would want to be treated… a great rule to live and teach our youth by. I know there are many angry Hawaiians, wanting us to leave their aina… I often think about what Hawaii would be like if that happened… if it were no longer a State, could no longer call themselves Americans, no more Uncle Sam forking the bill. Hmmm… Give them back the aina. Then what? What other country giant would get it’s claws on it without US protection? There are many that would risk their lives for that right. Like you had mentioned Michael, the military (which fights for their rights as Americans) and tourism ARE the main sources that carry Hawaii’s economy. Sorry, just pondering the “what if”. I think one should be proud of their culture, but racism casts a cloud over what should shine. To me, when I hear locals shout “eh haole” it’s feels as degrating as the phrase “nigger”,”spick”, “kike”, “Jap”, “phlip”, ect….) What’s next? White pointy hats? I feel offended, but then I feel sympathetic. I think racism, no matter where it comes from is truly a red flag of ignorance and that education is lacking some where…perhaps poverty as well. As a matter of fact, education has not always been one of Hawaii’s strongest points period…and I don’t completley blame the teachers; education starts in the home. However, I always considered Hawaii my home. It is where I grew up and was raised, the alternative (south central LA) would have been far worse. I recently moved back to Hawaii to help my ill father. Had it not of been for him, I would most likely not of returned. I brought my 4 children with me and have been torned about putting them back in the same education system that once tormented me. I want more for them. My son made honor roll last year in CA and I worry that the negative influences, violence, and racism that plague Puna/Keaau Schools will derail him academically. It’s a shame because there are many good local people in Hawaii, those I call “aunty”, “uncle”, who helped raise me and would extend a gesture of aloha if they could, but sadly become labled by the stupidity of a few. The old cliche “a few bad apples ruin the bunch” suites it well.

    • I want to say to Tina: I agree with you 100%. I’m haole & went to Pahoa School, and let me tell you: it was Hell! I did nothing to harm anyone, but every single day was just a fight for survival. These people had me hating my white skin & blue eyes. I used to wish I was dark just to get the tormenting to stop. It was nuts. I’ve never seen ANY place so full of racial hatred. I remember saying to myself, “Well now I know what it must be like to be black in the Deep South.”

      After all the Hell, torment, & misery of Pahoa, I went to the mainland for many years & recently came back because my wife is here, and she wanted to return. I reluctantly agreed. I can deal with the hatred directed against me, but I feel bad for my poor son who is even whiter than me. He’s such a good kid; he doesn’t deserve to have his life ruined simply because he’s the same race as the people who took over the islands in previous centuries. He’s only in preschool right now, but I am SO afraid that the public-school kids will try to make his life as miserable as they made mine. He’s such a good-natured, happy-go-lucky kid. It makes me sad & angry to think of all those angry, hateful bigots who want to ruin his life the way they tried to ruin mine. Shame on any parents who teach racial bigotry to their children, whether it’s in Hawaii or on the mainland.

  27. Well, I will tell you, I agree with the original post.

    There is a deeper level of it, you can go further. People separate by language, by clan, by style or whatever… the ignorant ones.

    What one finds out is that when you open up to everyone, you find so much more out of life.

    It is easy in Canada, I was raised to appreciate cultures, as a white guy, we loved “different” people, I think the worst social thing you could be in my upbringing with mostly white people was to be a jerk to someone..

    as i grew up and traveled I found out a few things.. There is ignorant people everywhere, Koreans telling me they hate people from Japan, Asians not liking black people, French people that won’t speak with Anglos, Canadians that hate Americans..

    but to be honest.. what effected me the most was trying to live a “hippy” area and not looking the part… I got treated with huge disrespect by lots of “hippies” for years I guess because I do well for money and was everything they hate in a person (on the surface) I think, you know, invading their “town” Nelson BC. I learned to see how little bubbles of people, even ones that pride themselves on tolarance and stuff can act like the biggest jerks …

    My answer was to move away and accept it, I am much happier now that I left that scene, it happens everywhere to SOMEONE, maybe not you, find a place you can belong and where your needed in the world and share your love there !

    • Hi Blendo – Indeed….if you can’t beat em, you needn’t join em! (So to speak).
      In the times I’ve encountered forms of racism (as I first did in Hawaii, and a few times since), I’ve had to ask myself what the root of the racism is, and whether I wanted to be a physical manifestation of it and bear the brunt of it in order to stay there.
      Rarely – if ever – has it been worth sticking out for me. There are too many beautiful accepting people in this world to get caught up with the few short-sighted judgemental ones.

      And yes, sometimes the people who are most “accepting” on the outside, are the most “racist” on the inside.

  28. @Prohobo

    Yes, move on if your not welcome .. most times is a good idea, as there is plenty of places in this world that NEED your energy and would LOVE to have you there. It might not be the hot spots, they are most times overfilled, but pick somewhere that could use your energy and it changes your life.

    Sometimes one might have a higher cause in a place, that would justify staying somewhere where you don’t feel quite welcome but if you just trying to take in some of the beauty of the world, move on and free yourself from it.

    Don’t let yourself get sucked in the ideal fantasy of a place in time, and not listen to yourself..

    I spent a winter in Montreal and after a few months I had to accept that I couldn’t find work, that I wasn’t a student and it wasn’t going to work for me at that time, I was so broke I had to borrow money off a family member just to pay my way out of debt at the hostel, and get a ticket out of there.. I left to New York, within 3 days of arriving there, I was working as a buss boy in a fancy club and bringing home cash tips right there, that was the highest income I ever earned at this point in my life.. it was an amazing change.. I loved Montreal and wanted to stay but I just wasn’t finding work without skills at the time, in the dead of winter without tourists, I don’t speak french.. Not to say others didn’t do well there but after a while I just kind of felt like my discouragement was manifesting into more failure and things were against me.. it surely is a state of mind..

    Somehow showing up in New York with absolutely nothing but a $100 or so, and some fresh motivation, with a better “odds” of finding something lead me to push myself into walking into every busy place and asking for a job without a resume.. bingo, Job, bingo a nice shared place to live… night and day..

    There is so much to be said for your own state of mind and the vibes that gives off, I lived in Harlem for my time in New York and at that time nobody white lived around there except our new little hostel on an abandoned street.. we were a little clueless being from other countries and in that way we were not “scared” to live there and instead enjoyed the culture, I think that kept us safe, our vibes showed we were comfortable even thou plenty of my friends from New York said it isn’t a place for us to live and that it isn’t safe, nobody had a single problem..

    I think racism is almost identical to sexism or all the other “different” out there.. expect a little toward yourself now and then, but don’t put it on as a cloak or else you are sure to invite it.. if you walk around thinking, oh nobody here is going to like me as I am not “like” them, then you will miss out on the fact that PLENTY of people will love to get to know you.. if you have up defensive guards toward the world NOBODY can get threw, your frowning, you fidget and that make others think YOU don’t like THEM..

    sometimes you might get warn down to a point where your soul is just shut down from trying to hard to connect and it not working, this is a good time for a break or leaving completely, you can rise back up and forget all about it !

    • Great observations, Blendo – I think you get from this world what you give. And the vibes you give off are very important. Cheers!

  29. The Anglo-Germanic is the curse of the earth. I am what the racist system calls Hispanic, and although most of my family is white, I am seeking to flee from the U.S., just to get away from Whitey. No one likes whitey, but whitey. Perhaps, your endless list of crimes against everyone on the planet, and the planet itself, has something to do with it. honestly, I can hardly look at an Anglo_American without shuddering with fear, like I am in the midst of a psychopath. Sorry, that’s how I feel. My mom is the whitest woman you ever saw, but not Anglo-American. Most of you people seem mentally diseased, like there’s something wrong with your hearts. You smile, but…something treacherous, racist about you. The hunters/preppers/pentagon/CIA/ are a perfect example of this. To your kind it seems perfectly normal to murder animals and destroy the earth, but not to me, just a sign of your innate disease.. Some refer to your kind as “THE SEED OF CAIN.”Sure, you’ve seduced some Asians into associating with you. Shame on them. Judgement from the almighty is coming. Repent! Or, you will soon be removed, for his judgement approaches. Seek humility. It may be he will hide you in the day of his wrath.

    Everything about you is death. From your endless , murderous wars, to your pharmaceutical poisons, and on, and on…Yet, as I said, woe unto you, for the day that is coming is a day of gloom, and fierce indignation, that will slay all the wicked, for they will be ashes.

    • Still not a reason to take it out on children on the playground. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Yes, white people invented racism, but not all white people support it or agree with it. In fact, many of them, such as myself, are ashamed at all the horrible things that have been done in the name of white supremacy.

  30. Hey Nora- I bet you’re truly bowled over by Rod’s enchanting summary there. Never been so charmed in all your days, what what. As a whitey myself… ah never mind- no use referencing the Mongol war machines; Pol Pot’s crew; the Moorish invaders and plunderers; certainly not any of the South American dictatorial tyrannies…

    Anyway- I stumbled on this blog (one of 4 blogs I’m now checking) and its pretty cool. All this about Hawaii has certainly been news to me. Its blogs like yours, for better or worse, that I think are invaluable resources for finding out things about the world.
    I saw your video going up that mountain too, made me chuckle. Then I read Rod’s statement and I see you were only at that mountain to pillage it for mineral wealth after annihilating all the locals.
    All the same- I’ll come back here now and then to read more of your articles. I must say you seem lovely… well, for a psychopathic, racist fellow member of the ‘Seed of Cain’ that is… lol
    (or maybe he meant seed of ‘Cain from Kung Fu’- cos I understand he walked the earth too)

  31. It seems to me that everyone has a lot of anger inside them. For whatever reason, people feel the need to hate and use the color of someone else’s skin to justify it. Every culture has its negative history. I have seen racism from every group I have had contact with. When I hear racism against the group to which I belong (white), all I can think of is how utterly in denial these groups are. Now it seems plain that a group of people (whites) overthrew the government of Hawaii in 1893. How unfortunate. In modern times though, whites have learned to (more or less) respect other cultures by and large, and have become sensitive to the values of cultures that are not their own. Still, misery loves company as they say and I do believe that the native Hawaiians use racism to mask their poor lot in life, weather from unemployment, poor living conditions or the malaise associated with the drug-use culture. I really can’t see many white moving to Hawaii with a so-called ‘uppity’ attitude or with a careless attitude of respect to the natural born people there. We all neeed to be respectful of others, including Hawaiians towards others. Life isn’t a one-way street and if you look hard, most people with a reasonable mind will find there is room for us all.

    • Thank you, David, for your sensitive and “common-sense” approach. I wish everybody had this level of perspective!

  32. So I still don’t get why Dog and Beth and the whole
    family have Hapa accents and are obviously Caucasian!
    I was born and raised in Boston but my family is from NY and
    Ohio and Washington DC and I do not have a Boston accent
    after 63 years here nor do I need to AFFECT ONE to converse with
    the locals!
    My brother has lived worked married and procreated in Australia for
    23 years. My nephew is Australian, was born and raised and goes to school there so he
    of course has an accent as does the rest of his Aussie family. My brother has some word order changes and has adopted some slang terms but no accent.
    Nor does he adopt a Brit accent when he does business there or a Malay accent there etc.
    As a Sociologist are the Chapman’s slumming? I don’t change my accent (although maybe some vocabulary) when I change teaching assignments from an art school to a community college…
    Just curious…
    And I’m a huge Chapman family fan!
    And a huge Hawaii fan!
    But also an Indigenous People’s Rights Advocate and a Poor People’s Right’s
    and a Prison Rights advocate
    The accents just seem…
    You tell me…

  33. PS re Chapman Family “accents”
    especially because the accents virtually DISAPPEAR
    when the speak with each other, law enforcement, in front of
    state legislators, anywhere off island and EVEN in front of
    NON-Indigenous but OBVIOUSLY Poverty level Hawaiians!!!
    Including Caucasian, African, Asian, Hispanic, etc.,…
    So, my previous question stands.
    What gives with the affected accents?

  34. Being A dick just isn’t cool, can’t side with them on that, but man do I sympathize with the native hawaiians. Annexed by the US, and then relegated to a status being the economic inferior, while rich mainlanders fly in and act like they own the place, making your homeland their vacation home or buying it up for themselves, you can’t buy that land, you don’t have the money!

    You have to realize the hideous injustice done to these people that nobody cares or even knows about, it doesn’t justify their behavior, but sadly it really seems like the only way they know how to fight back.

    The fight for the sovereignty of Hawaii and racial tolerance amongst the natives must go hand in hand, their must be justice for everybody.

  35. Now because of what I’ve heard and personally experience in Oahu, I’ll never
    step food in the territory for the rest of my life.

    I’d sooner visit Guam/Saipan or just spend my
    hard earned dollars in Australia. I shun people
    who have low self esteem and victim mentalities.
    I have passed along the truth of all my Japanese friends
    and Caucasian friends never to spend any money
    There in the future.

    If I ever meet a Hawaiian in the Lower 48, I’ll make sure to
    ignore them and treat exactly as I was treated.

    P.S. I’m Canadian and my country never had anything
    to do with Pacific colonies.

  36. This is an old thread, but just to add to the conversation…I agree that experiencing discomfort or even outright hostility as a White person is not parallel to the experiences of Natives, African Americans or any other immigrant or refugee or brown or black experience. On a systemic level, Whiteness comes with privilege and a history that is often in invisible to those who have and thus only felt when it is challenged. This is not reverse racism. For those with “White fragility” at not being welcomed with open arms for being in places like the Big Island, that have already faced wave after wave of annexation, economic displacement, please read up and educate yourselves on this, whether it’s here in HI or on the continent, to grow your compassion and understand the effects of gentrification.

    • To say that whites have no clue as the experiences of non-whites… well how obtuse. Non-whites are quite capable of making whites experience the same oppressions that non-whites say they have experienced. Whiteness does NOT come with a privilege, you only learned that from your liberal arts teacher and regurgitate it ad nauseum in order to fit into your own perceived vision of the main stream. It isn’t a case of “White Fragility”, as much as you would like to believe, it’s more like Hawaiians talk a lot about being respectful of their culture but have no problems hating those who are not of their culture. You want respect, give it.

  37. So I was in Long’s yesterday and there was a cute baby in the cart in front of me. Being in the grandparents range in age I couldn’t resist waving and saying hi. The mother and grandmother with her went off. My sin, I was white. Things like this happen every week or so. I won’t draw any conclusions, but it’s a fact.

  38. Asian male here raised on mainland. Moved to Oahu 15 years ago.
    I don’t speak pidgeon, so locals never perceive me as one. Having lived elsewhere, I’m used to socializing with persons of various ethnicities and ideas.
    What I observe in Oahu is what one would see in a small rural town on the mainland. Folks are protective of their community, and often view others as outsiders. Especially in Hawaii, as it is an island state.
    The truth is, there is also a lot of lower class folks here. I think that combined with a small island community, and lack of exposure (many folks I know have never been off the island), people stick with who they know and that’s kind of natural when you think of it.
    When I see racism here, overt or subtle, toward others I feel it is such a pity because the same race they are discriminating against have many fine folks who have done a lot of good for others, including here in Hawaii. As corny as it sounds, there are good and bad in each race and to write one off altogether is very narrow minded.
    I don’t feel I have to be accepted by everyone. I have my own thing going. I don’t feel bad if I do get discriminated by locals because I understand it and feel I am the newcomer after all. In a way I feel I’m a partial observer living here and that makes it kind of fun.
    Another weird thing is many of the different polynesian groups (Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan, Micronesian) discriminate against each other.

    • Do you feel like you face way less discrimination in Oahu compared to the mainland US? As an Asian, I am guessing you are treated far better by Hawaiian locals compared to whites (or Haoles) who face daily racism.

      • Maybe initially on looks only. However I cannot speak the pidgeon slang here, so folks can immediately tell I’m not local.
        There is a difference here between being a minority and being a local. There are some whites who are local (were born here, or lived a long time), and they speak pidgeon.
        When you speak pidgeon, it identifies you as being from Hawaii.

        In the areas I experienced on the mainland (west coast and east coast), I really have not had any problems as the areas are very diverse.

  39. What I found ..which is so funny..my last name is Falo and I’m half Puerto Rican and half Portuguese..I’m not even white but they are so backwards that they are not used to seeing a Hispanic that they stare at me and call me that white name too..my son is Sioux Indian and he was called that too..I laugh but lately have challenged..who you calling white? Who’s white? Lol it’s ok to be white but let’s at least understand who is white and who is not white..lol

  40. Hawaii has been misgoverned to the point that it’s basically a 3rd world country. Honestly, I just wish the folks that are identified as “haoles” would just up and leave so we can let this ****hole burn itself out.

  41. I have lived on Oahu for 6 years. I am an American who has lived all over the US previously. I hate it here. The constant racism and ongoing hatred toward me is more than I can bear. I came here not knowing about the racism. I am attractive, blonde, Caucasian and Native American. I have never been able to secure a job to even make enough money to leave. There are very few Caucasians here to even hope about a chance at a job at getting hired. The Hawaiians and Asians will never socially be egalitarian as most global cities on the mainland are. I am socially excluded, shunned, and ridiculed. Recently the collectivist culture females have hit me and yelled at me in public places. The police do nothing when they show up as they are collectivist culture also. Please someone help me leave.

    • Your attitude and placement above everyone around you is privilege and white supremacy that Hawai’i doesn’t need. If you hate it so much, LEAVE.

  42. Bold of you to assume that they were Native Hawaiian. It’s funny how you acknowledge that racism is a learned trait, but you assert the ones who targeted you were Hawaiian. How do you know this? Did they present to you their genealogical ties to these islands?

    And it’s funny how you “had been (luckily) warned” that “native Hawaiian tend to resent the white man.” Who warned you??? A local of Hawaiʻi whose family has lived here for a several generations OR some foreign transplant who has only lived here for a very short period of time and who has NOT immersed themselves into the culture of the islands and who have no respect for Hawaiʻi which consequently forms their own biases (the same biases you have formed) against the people of Hawaiʻi?

    And NO Haole doesn’t mean “without breath” or “soulless one.” It means “white person, american, englishman, caucasian; english; formerly, any foreigner; foreign, introduced, of foreign origin.” http://wehewehe.org/gsdl2.85/cgi-bin/hdict?a=q&r=1&hs=1&m=-1&o=-1&e=p-11000-00—off-0hdict–00-1—-0-10-0—0—0direct-10-ED–4——-0-1lpm–11-haw-Zz-1—Zz-1-home—00-3-1-00-0–4—-0-0-11-00-0utfZz-8-00&q=haole&j=pm&af=1&fqf=ED

    Anyone who is familiar with the Hawaiian Language, Hawaiian grammar, and basic Austronesian linguistics knows that word cannot be broken apart in that way linguistically because ʻole can not slurred with the preceding word. Pauʻole for example is never pronounced as “Paule” by speakers of the Hawaiian Language.

    In addition, traditional Hawaiian mele (song) and moʻolelo never use the term “haole” in the context of being “breathless” nor as a marker of race. In truth, it had no racial connotations prior to the 1840s. The idea of race itself is a western social construct and was not within the traditional Hawaiian way of thinking, which emphasizes genealogical kinship particularly to the land. Nor did the word “haole” have any negative connotations until 1860s when Henry Whitney, founder of the Commercial Advertiser (today’s Honolulu Star Advertiser) complained about assertive Hawaiian newspapers like “Ka Hoku Pakipika” because of their nationalistic content and his newspaper was beginning to lose subscribers.

    In fact, the first major complaint about “racism” was not from Kānaka ʻŌiwi (“Native Hawaiians”) but was directed to Kānaka ʻŌiwi and specifically against King Kalākaua himself by members of the “Missionary Party.” The allegation would be used against him throughout his reign because the king had a habit of trying to appoint his people (of all ethnic backgrounds, including Hawaiians, Chinese, and Japanese) to cabinet positions which didn’t sit well with the white non-native europeans/americans who were currently in these positions. And it was in this time (1870s), due to politics, that the term “haole” acquired its modern negative and racial connotations by the general population of Hawaiʻi. Historically and in Hawaiian moʻolelo (stories), the word “haole” existed but had nothing to do with race but was merely a trait of a classification of peoples who one does not share an immediate genealogical connection to (meaning eight generations or less) or speaks an unfamiliar language. In other word, something (yes, it can be used to describe an object) or someone “different” from Hawaiʻi, uncommon in Hawaiʻi, or originating outside of Hawaiʻi. It was NOT a racial term.

    The Kumulipo (our genealogical chant/our origin story), which predates the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778 by millennia, uses the word “haole” no less than seven times, describing people born of different traits. Kamapuaʻa, a prominent demi-god in Hawaiʻi, actually is described as being haole because of his bright brown eyes and in some accounts, his ʻehu (reddish-brown) complexion and hair.

    I could go on but I think I made my point. Kānaka ʻŌiwi did NOT make the term “haole” into a negative racial slur. Our words are descriptive words and any negative connotations in association with the concept of race is completely unfounded.

    Racism should have no place in anyone’s heart and is a poison. While perpetuating lies and falsehoods about a culture, a people, and a place that you obviously know nothing about coupled with your shallow attempt to understand Hawaiʻi (or any place for that matter) through a culturally appropriated and colonized lens is just as toxic.

    Any hatred or perceived racism that you received is actually the privilege you are accustomed to that you didn’t receive because equality feels like oppression to you.

    Here’s a suggestion, educate yourself. You can start by reading


    • Annnnnd you just voided your entire dog whistle rant with one line
      “Any hatred or perceived racism that you received is actually the privilege you are accustomed to that you didn’t receive because equality feels like oppression to you.” Tell yourself, preacher.

      The genealogy rant at the top was also hilarious but also applicable. If they can’t assume you then you can’t assume them.

      It honestly sounds like you are an apologist for your own culture’s racism and a closet supporter. There is a lot of easily misplaced (we’ll call it nationalism) in your post. Your handle alone is indicative to those of us in the know 😉

      Lived around the islands for 12 years during the 80s and 90s. You know what you are doing and saying and what you are inferring. You are not much better than Jeff up there.

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