As I ventured through countless TripAdvisor threads and personal blogs I kept reading about the “racism” that white visitors felt when coming to Hawaiian islands, especially the beautiful island of Kauai.
As a person of color in the United States, I immediately began to question this perspective and became extremely excited to come to Kauai so that I could properly examine the experiences white visitors frequently reflected on.
As I have now been on this island for 3 weeks, it really can’t be said enough; native Hawaiians find themselves displaced, literally and figuratively out of place.
I have encountered testimonies of native Hawaiian people ridiculed for their culture, children who were punished in school for speaking Hawaiian. This systematic suppression of Hawaiian culture and language took place for many generations, and the language was almost lost due to parents and grandparents who were uncomfortable passing the language on to younger generations.
After learning of these brutal experiences, it’s evident that just like in the rest of the United States, racism against white people cannot exist; unless we go back in time and flip the switch on the American colonization of native land and people and make it so that those things and the subsequent years of systemic oppression of native Hawaiians never happened.
Sure, some native Hawaiians have prejudices against white people, but those prejudices cannot oppress white people in America, which is what racism is all about. Any compensatory measures that are instituted to do the smallest bit to bridge the canyon of racial inequality in this country still could never amount to white oppression or even significant marginalization.
Because native Hawaiians have been historically stripped of their power and autonomy in America, their opinions aren’t able to be weaponized the way that white prejudice against Hawaiians can be, even if they hurt some white people’s feelings. White visitors will never feel the sensation of losing their culture, their people, and their nation. Any hostility from native Hawaiians will never amount to the illegal annexation of a nation that continues to feel occupied and unheard.