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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.
Honolulu
AA Paradise?

     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?

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WHAT YOU SAY

[This page is closed to new input. --Ed.]

(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 05:02:45 PM)

TSJ,

Race will be important when you're surrounded by a sea of non-Asians and you're oftentimes the only Asian person around. Feeling lonely yet? Well, unless you've become totally Latin-washed.
Jay... the hapa who hardly sees Asians nor Hapas
   Thursday, August 01, 2002 at 03:51:02 (PDT)
"I know some Asian peeps who tell me Southern Florida has way too many Hispanics and not enough Asians. Now start thinking about the Bahamas. Will you be the only ABC homeboy within a 10 block radius?"

Hehe... nothing wrong with a little Latina lovin'. Like I said, race isn't important. There are a lot of Asians in South and Central America, especially in northern South America. I have never been there, but know plenty of people who have. I have no money. haha

Many celebrities (RIP Left Eye) have vacation homes in Costa Rica. They don't call it the rich coast for nothing.

Anyways, I didn't mean to knock Hawaii. It's a lovely place. nonetheless.
TSJ
Eric@KristinKreuk.net    Monday, July 29, 2002 at 16:30:50 (PDT)
[What people say about Hawaii having a high percentage of Asians being a deciding factor in living there doesn't hold much merit. If you want to be around your own people, why not just move back to the motherland?]

Who in bloody hell would want to move back to mainland China, Vietnam, or Laos?

[The great thing about being in America is that we get to experience so many different cultures, and meet people from all backgrounds.]

Uh... maybe in California or Hawaii.
Can't quite say the same about states like Kansas and Nebraska.

[For that matter, I would much rather live in Costa Rica (which BTW is more stunning than Hawaii), or the Bahamas.]

You sure about that? Have you ever visited Costa Rica and the Bahamas?
Is there anyone on this forum who has visited numerous Hawaiian Islands aswell as the Bahamas? If so, please compare and contrast.

I know some Asian peeps who tell me Southern Florida has way too many Hispanics and not enough Asians. Now start thinking about the Bahamas. Will you be the only ABC homeboy within a 10 block radius?
Jay· the sober hapa
   Sunday, July 28, 2002 at 00:12:55 (PDT)
What people say about Hawaii having a high percentage of Asians being a deciding factor in living there doesn't hold much merit. If you want to be around your own people, why not just move back to the motherland? The great thing about being in America is that we get to experience so many different cultures, and meet people from all backgrounds.

The only reason I would live in Hawaii is because it is a tropical paradise. I wouldn't care about what types of people live there, necessarily, as long as they are nice. For that matter, I would much rather live in Costa Rica (which BTW is more stunning than Hawaii), or the Bahamas.
TSJ
Eric@KristinKreuk.net    Wednesday, July 24, 2002 at 13:14:22 (PDT)

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