day 12

before i came here, i asked the owner of the condo, diane*, about race relations in hawai’i. i asked because my cousin had related to me that her boyfriend had been taunted and called a ni**er while vacationing on one or another of the islands. diane told me that, while there aren’t many black people here, she didn’t think racism was an issue in maui. she had suspicions that oahu might be a bit of a different case, but she didn’t think i needed to have concerns about maui.

as a slight tangent, here’s a blurb i ran across when i was reading one of the local maui tourist brochures:

Maui’s resident population is about 141,320 people (2006). The Caucasian population continues to grow with 38.3 percent of the total ethnic mix. Asians number 30.2 percent, Native Hawaiians, 10.3 percent, and Hispanics 8.7 percent. English is spoken almost everywhere in Hawai’i, but…

two things to note: 1) there are no blacks at all ? and 2) that only adds up to 87.5%—which leads me back to number 1.

so okay, shortly after i got here, i decided that, with all the extra time i’d found, i should do some running. unfortunately, i hadn’t brought any shorts suitable for working out. when i noticed a consignment shop, i decided to check there for something cheap to fit the bill. a couple of women were outside as i crossed the parking lot, and before i even neared the door, one of them asked me if i was looking for anything specific. i told her that i was looking for shorts, and she said, “ohhh, no…i’m sorry. i don’t have any.”

now, seeing as it’s about 88 degrees every single day here, i would have been a bit more taken aback were it not for the big signs that led me to believe she was going out of business. so i said something to the effect of “shucks” and went on my way. well, yesterday i was out for a leisurely stroll and decided to go in and see what she did have. which, much to my chagrin, was shorts. a whole rack of shorts. i couldn’t even give her the benefit of the doubt that she just meant she didn’t have any shorts left that were small enough to fit me. there were plenty of shorts in my size on the rack, too.

i tend to be very slow to call a racial foul, but i don’t know what else to make of it. what else about me could have possibly kept her from wanting me in her store? 😦

*name changed



Filed under hawaii, life, maui, travel

4 responses to “day 12

  1. This is disturbing. But as for the s.k. statistics in the brochures I wouldn’t be too concerned about anything you read in them, they are written to get people to spend their money.
    I am a Swedish “caucasian” woman living in O’ahu. I have heard people do not like tourists very much in Maui but I don’t know how true that is because it makes no sense since the islands live off of the tourism. Perhaps Diane was right that there is a difference between the islands. Oahu is packed with people from all over the world so that could change the atmosphere.
    I do not know how they in that brochure you read could come up with a figure of number of local people because “local” people have their gene pole coming from so many places it is getting hard to define (if u have to).
    Two things always come up when people meet here. One is “What school did you got to?” because it tells them what they have in common. The other is ethnicity. “My mother was polynesian, my father was from Japan but their parents were from all over too so I am a little bit German, a little bit Chinese and one of my ancesters was from Taiwan”. Not sure what ethnicity box they check but I would say they are local merely because they live here. It is just a redundant discussion I think.
    One thing I noticed is that people tend to treat you better here as soon as they realize you are “kama’aina” – living here permanently that is. I had some weird incidents outside of Waikiki, much like your “shorts incident” during my first time here but now people recognize me a lot, so they treat me without suspicion and there is less bullshi–ing if you know what I mean.
    My advice to you is that you take a trip over to O’ahu if you feel badly treated in Maui. It would be sad to have only bad experiences from Hawai’i.
    Take care!/S

  2. piratejanny

    thanks, sofie…good info. i haven’t really had any other bad incidents here, fortunately. for the most part, people are WAY nicer here than anywhere i’ve ever been. if i do superferry myself on over to oahu it will only be because i have a friend who lives there. 🙂

  3. janell

    I think over 20 years ago, racism was probably more prevalent against anyone not local. It didn’t matter if you were white, black, hispanic. However, as decades have passed, there has been more and more of a mixing of cultures and peoples. In my opinion, racism has dropped quite a bit since moving back from Los Angeles. At least from what I’ve observed.

    I haven’t been to Maui in a while, but here in Oahu, there are quite a few black people. I don’t know how accurate the statistics are or if they take into account people living on military bases here. The bases have a big mixture of white, black and hispanic people. I went to a high school near a couple of military bases back in the 80’s and grew up with quite a few. Also, Matt and I moved to a new neighborhood where there are quite a few black people. In fact, one of our really good neighbors whom we talk to from time to time is black. I think he’s a high school teacher. As far as racism, I think Hawaii is like many other places…a few isolated incidences but surely not the norm. Sometimes, people are just nasty and say mean things to hit a person’s “hot button”, no matter what race they are. 😦

  4. piratejanny

    ^^ my friend on oahu has spoken!! ^^

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