ASIAN AMERICAN ISSUES
Is Honolulu an Asian American Paradise?
magine a place where everyone looks like Jason Scott Lee and Kelly Hu. Where trade winds keep the air balmy year-round, day and night, and the horizon is always piled with dazzling cumulus. Where you can always find a Zippy's for saimin and teriyaki plates heaped with rice and macaroni salad. Where it's the Whites who are the minority.
A stroll through Ala Moana Shopping Center or Kapiolani Park will satisfy anyone that in Honolulu Asians are the majority. This impression is borne out by the numbers. The city's 610,000 Asian/Pacific Islanders comprise 68% of its 900,000 total residents, making the Honolulu area the nation's third largest AA population center. Even excluding about 100,000 native Hawaiians, Samoans and other non-Filipino Pacific Islanders, Asians make up 57%, over twice the percentage for Whites (26%).
Honolulu is also unique in being the only major metro area in which Japanese Americans outnumber all other Asian nationalities. JAs (200,000) are followed by Filipinos (170,000), Chinese (54,000), Coreans (23,000), Vietnamese (8,000) and Indians (1,500). McKinley High, Honolulu's first public school and the alma mater of Daniel Inouye, Hiram Fong and Bette Midler, is known as "Tokyo High".
Racial harmony, marketed as Aloha Spirit, has become the island's trademark, but the various Asian nationalities originally arrrived not in the spirit of multiculturalism but to serve as strikebreakers to help the Big Five keep each preceding nationality of laborers in line. It is only during the past half century or so that Hawaii's Asians have come to see the advantage of joining forces to resist an exploitative white minority.
Asian immigration to Hawaii began in 1789 with the arrrival of a few Chinese artisans. Hawaii was still an independent kingdom. Asians were few until various European and American entrepreneurs began seeing the potential for big profit in sugar cane. They used cold-blooded machinations to gain power over native Hawaiians, then brought over 46,000 Chinese laborers between 1852 and 1899.
As Chinese workers grew in number, they began making demands for better wages and working conditions. The Big Five's response was to recruit 180,000 Japanese between 1886 and 1925. As the Japanese became the islands' largest ethnic group, they too began organizing to fight inhumane working conditions. The plantation owners sought to break them by bringing over 100,000 Filipinos. As citizens of a U.S. territory, they were exempt temporarily from the barrage of anti-Asian legislation directed against Chinese and Japanese immigration. About 3,500 Coreans were also recruited between 1904 and 1905.
The first instance of inter-Asian cooperation on the islands was seen in 1919 when 12,000 Filipinos and Japanese jointly staged a strike. For the most part, however, the Big Five's ruthless tactics and absolute economic dominance remained intact until World War II. Only after Hawaii became a state in 1959 did Asian numerical strength begin translating into political and economic power. Today Honolulu's commercial and professional life is dominated by Asians, though many Whites enjoy above-average affluence thanks to old-money connections and a steady influx of wealthy mainlanders seeking a retirement home.
The surf and luau lifestyle is, of course, only a pretty myth for most Honolulu residents. Like other Americans, they spend most of their days earning a living. Unfortunately, the majority are employed in tourism, an industry that had been stagnating for nearly a decade even before 9/11. The islands' strategic location between East Asia and North America -- not to mention its appealing lifestyle -- has begun attracting a small influx of tech jobs, but Honolulu's economic prospects remain uncertain for the forseeable future.
Is Honolulu an Asian American paradise? Or is it just a remote outpost irrelevant to the most ambitious Asian Americans?
This interactive article is closed to new input.
Discussions posted during the past year remain available for browsing.
© 1996-2013 Asian Media Group Inc
No part of the contents of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission.
WHAT YOU SAY
[This page is closed to new input. --Ed.]
Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 05:02:47 PM)
Am moving to Paradise,
Brother, you might consider investing in Hawaii right now. Everything's dropped!!! Apartments in Honolulu & it's suburbs only range from 60-80 thousand USD for the past 5+ years.
The market has hit rock bottom and it's the perfect time to buy an apartment there!!! Seems that many parts of Cali are more expensive than Hawaii right now. Go for it, and have a AA bootylicious time there.
Yes, I agree that the AA women are finer there than in the states and have a healthier lifestyle than the white-washed AA's I've heard about.
Jay... the Hawaii Hapa who knows
Thursday, June 20, 2002 at 01:47:23 (PDT)
I know that there is the stigma of living in paradise and not working.
But damn the AA women are fine there! Less stigma of being asian than on the mainland.
Mainland AA Women are too warped in their thinking of white is good metality that many are turning into white sluts with low self esteem.
So much better in Hawaii where most of the Asian women have a healthier lifestyle and love and respect us.
If I had the money I'd go there in a heartbeat.
Am moving to Paradise
Friday, June 14, 2002 at 11:17:53 (PDT)
Well let's face it, most people don't make their riches in Hawaii. There are not enough well paying jobs, the economy sucks, and the University of Hawaii is falling apart. Oahu is becoming overcrowded and everytime I go back, I'm saddened by how crappy everything looks.
The whole "racial harmony" thing is also somewhat of a falsity. I guess we all tolerate each other and hang out with each other, but the fact is, there are still negative stereotypes perputuated by a large number of islanders. Hawaii can be a hostile, segragated place, believe it or not.
Honolulu is definitely not a place for the more ambitious AAs.
I'd love to move back there someday, but I want more than the minimum wage job I'll be forced to take, even though I have a college degree.
Take it from an AA who knows...
Stay away from Honolulu..and if you're already there...get out and experience something new!
Sunday, June 09, 2002 at 23:56:12 (PDT)
former hawaii resident,
I know what you mean, bro!
It's not quite paradise for some of em haoles, though. Hehehe... and some hapa haoles get shit while growing-up.
But it's still home, and the honeys are dayam fine!!!
Jay... a former (& future) Hawaii resident
Monday, May 27, 2002 at 13:43:11 (PDT)
don't tell people to not follow their dreams. if you want to move to hawaii, do it. but you should know what you're getting into. don't expect to just be able to move to hawaii and live in luxury. just like everywhere else, you'll need to find a job and work to earn a living. it's still the real world afterall.
as for honolulu being an asian american paradise, it truly is. let me put it this way, i never knew what being asian american was until i left hawaii and moved to the mainland for college. i just belonged. just as everyone else just belongs. there's no need for a separate asian american identity in hawaii. that's what makes it paradise.
former hawaii resident
Saturday, May 25, 2002 at 22:12:54 (PDT)
This is going to be my last post, too. However, I do have something important to say. Do not move to Honolulu. If you are thinking about establishing a career in the Hawaiian Islands, I would say forget about it. Iāve seen too many punk kids, guys in their twenties to fifties come down from the mainland to Honolulu and fail. You donāt want to be trapped in a dead-end job. You also donāt want to find yourself homeless either.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002 at 20:02:50 (PDT)
NEWEST COMMENTS |