Re: Racism Against Indigenous Peoples
Re: Racism Against Indigenous PeoplesOK, this isn't specific to Hawai'i but I've scanned it in because I suspect that (many of you may perhaps recognise) if you substituted your particular colonial society (America) for the word New Zealand and the word haole, (or "white") for Pakeha and kanaka Maoli for Maori, you'll get the drift.
1. MAORI PEOPLE CANNOT BE RACISTS IN NEW ZEALAND
All people can be prejudiced. But if Racism equals Racial Prejudice plus Institutional Power, then only Pakehas can be racists, since only Pakehas control institutional power in N.Z.
N.Z. institutions, values and norms have been created by Pakehas and are controlled by Pakehas, and have always been used to enforce those things which benefit Pakehas. Individual members of a racial minority can become influential in any institution. However, their individual decision-making power is not backed up by the top echelons of white institutional power, if decisions are made which appear to run counter to white interests. Basic policy decisions and basic power are firmly in Pakeha hands. (Note: all Pakehas, obviously, do not share equal power, but Pakehas as a group control institutions).
2. ALL PAKEHAS ARE RACISTS IN NEW ZEALAND
Every Pakeha baby born automatically receives "white skin privileges". These are undue benefits at the expense of other groups. For instance, Pakehas go through a lifetime of being considered the "normal" New Zealanders. Racial minorities go through a lifetime of being looked upon as "different", as "cultural aliens", their language, even when it is the indigenous local language, being described as "foreign"; and are often made to feel uncomfortable, even when not being discriminated against. Pakehas, as a group, can be predicted to outlive Maori and other Polynesians, as well as to live healthier lives, earn higher incomes, receive more education and have better chances of staying out of prison.
3. GOOD INTENTIONS OF PAKEHAS OFTEN RESULT IN UNINTENTENTIOINAL RACISM:
BLAMING THE VICTIM INSTEAD OF BLAMING SOCIAL CAUSES
This is placing responsibility for the results of oppression on those being victimised,
rather than on the institutional practices responsible for the situation.
Individual example: "What can you expect from those kids, considering the homes they come from?" says a teacher. This teacher, in blaming the "homes" places blame for the children's failures on parents and their living conditions, instead of on his or her own limited expectations and skills, on the school practices which do not meet the needs of the children, or on the structure of society which permits low wages and inadequate housing.
Institutional example: Substantial funds and the research resources of university departments enable white, middle-class researchers with "qualifications" to study 'Race Relations in Ponsonby', 'unemployed youth in Porirua', or 'budgeting skills in Otara'; instead of studying the domination of City Council policies by residents of affluent suburbs - or giving those resources to Maori people to do research on Pakehas. (Place names of high native population)
CHANGE THE RACIAL MINORITY
Instead of changing Pakeha behaviour and practices which punish cultural difference, the focus is on fitting members of other cultures; into Pakeha situations.
Individual example: "Look me in the eye when I'm speaking to you" says the teacher to the Samoan child. Teachers who are not aware of differences in cultural behaviours (in this case, a child who has been taught that it is rude to look directly at an adult) punish children for not behaving according to Pakeha codes. It is important for members of the dominant culture to learn about, and to show respect for, the cultures of all people with whom they are in daily contact.
Institutional example: employers who will hire racial minorities as long as those hired behave on the job exactly as if they were Pakeha, and speak English at all times.
on 9/28/04 1:27 PM, Alakupaa wrote:
Aloha e Alan L.
I agree with you about the use of racial slurs. However, I feel that the use of this slur in this particular instance is indicative of an anger that is based on racism and discrimination against the Hawaiian people by many Americans and American society in general. This is not to say that it is correct, but it is to say that it is not coming out of a vacuum.
From the onset of the arrival of the Westerners to Hawai`i, especially the Americans, racism by Whites against the Hawaiian people was prevalent. From the planning of the American invasion to its execution and removal of Queen Lili`uokalani and the Hawaiian government, the arguments against her and the Hawaiian people by the Americans were all based on racism. After the American invasion, the only reason why Hawai`i's sovereignty was not restored was because of a strong racism that permeated most of American society.
Today, that same racism in American society is still very pervasive, albeit in a more refined and institutionalised manner. This racism, ironically rears its ugly head in groups that have names like "Colour Blind America" and "Equality for All." This racism is demonstrated in feelings of cultural superiority that is ingrained in most Americans and is especially apparent in many who immigrate to Hawai`i, who think their culture is the culture by which all other cultures are judged. This type of American immigrant to our shores do not feel a need to change or adapt or even respect the host culture of this land. However, they are the very same people who will say things like "Hawaiians are racist against us" or "If you are white, do not go past Kahe Point, you take your life into your hands because the Wai`anae Coast is all Hawaiian and Samoan and they hate whites."
The history of America in Hawai`i is that of acts of ethnocide against the Hawaiian people, their culture, their language, their land, their country, etc. and for one to think that this racism is non existent in this day and age is certainly naïve and untouched by reality. Due to this form of racism, Hawaiians today have to fight to keep their entitlements, their lands, their homes, their way of life, their culture and their very existence, not to mention the long and arduous struggle for independence. One only has to look at certain corporations, many white owned companies in Hawai`i (i.e., many of the Marine Biology firms on the Big Island) have very few local people working for them much less Hawaiians, whereas local corporations seem to have a racial balance indicative of the representative population. Look at the higher echelon jobs in the tourist industry, most are held by people who are from other places than Hawai`i, whereas the local people can be found in housekeeping or as waiters or as desk staff.) In the 1990's, Hawai`i had a loss of 250,000 people, mostly local and mostly young families with children, and educated local people because of a lack of jobs. Yet in the same decade, Hawai`i had an increase of 170,000 people from the US, mostly white, single or newly married couples, 80% with jobs in hand when they stepped off the plane. There was even an intercepted memo from a Lt. Commander at Pearl Harbour to the commanding Admiral of the base that appeared in both the Advertiser and Star-Bulletin. There were some construction projects that needed to be done at the base, but the Navy, for reasons unknown to us, would hire only people from the Continental US and not Hawai`i. The memo that was intercepted stated that they would only advertise for these jobs on Navy bases in the Continental US. The memo ended, with "...That ought to lighten the complexion of this place." When this memo made the press, the Navy said that the memo was "misunderstood." That was the only explanation, and no one from the press would follow up on the racist memo.
I am also sure that you have been among Whites where racism has come into the conversation, the use of racial slurs, the lambasting of other people as being stupid or lazy just because. An example of this is my sister's fiance. He looks white, but is actually over half Hawaiian. He was a Marine and was going skiing with a Marine Colonel and his wife. The Colonel asked him, "Gunny, where have you been stationed?" He answered, "Kane`ohe." The Colonel answered, "I was stationed there, too. Those Hawaiians must be the stupidest people on the earth."
My future brother in law asked "Sir, permission to speak freely." When permission was granted, he said "I take offence to what you have said, I am Hawaiian." To that the Colonel's wife answered "You can't be, you're too smart."
My mother who used to work at Tripler as a library assistant and who is Hawaiian experienced this type of racist conversation. She is Hawaiian and many of her co-workers and the staff from the hospital would speak about how stupid the Hawaiians were, or how the as white people had to vote for only white people during elections in order for the whites to take control of this place. They would have these conversations right in front of her as if she was not there. I'll bet you have heard conversations similar to this one at one time or another, if you have not, you are either lucky or extremely unobservant.
Even though I agree with you and think that one should not use racial slurs, to single out "racial slurs" in some of the email and to take this out of the context of the greater racism that permeates American society and American society here in Hawai`i is incongruous. No one ever died from a Hawaiian using the term "Whitey" in an email, but what America is doing to us, is killing us....literally.
Date: 09/28/04 05:37:03
Subject: An observation
In contrast to so many eloquent arguments against the Akaka bill and for Hawaiian soveriegnty, the use of a slur such as whitey stands out as incongrious. Indeed, I felt a sting when reading it. It does not lend dignity to a noble cause.
Few endured more grievious wrongs than Queen Liliu'okalani on behalf of her people. Yet in all her candor and honesty she refrained from casting aspersions. The emanating grace bespeaks her magnanimous character and unconditional love and that of her people.
We all would do well in striving to follow such a splendid example.