I’m never surprised when people I meet on one of my long-distance train rides ask questions about life in Hawaii. Over lunch in the dining car on my most recent trip, I was asked what it was like for a Caucasian moving to Hawaii and suddenly finding himself in a racial minority?
First, it was a very perceptive question. My answer—speaking for myself only, of course—it has never been an issue.
For almost ten years, I worked in the Mayor’s office in Honolulu running the Office of Information and Complaint. Looking back, to the best of my recollection, this was the ethnic make-up of my staff of ten.
` Samoan 1
Generally speaking, I think people are more friendly here. I’ve heard one reason for that—and it makes sense—is because everyone who lives in Hawaii belongs to a racial minority. Even if, as the 2020 Census did, you lump all asians into one category—something the asians themselves would never do—no one group even comes close to having 50-plus percent of the state’s population.
For the record, here’s the racial breakdown of the State of Hawaii’s population from the 2022 census:
Asian–36.53% Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan, Guamanian, etc.–10.24% White–21.60% Hispanic and Latin–9.55 % Two or more races–20.06% Black and Native American–1.66%
Roughly three quarters of our state’s population isn’t white. For some people from the U.S. mainland, getting accustomed to being in a racial minority takes a little time. A few can’t deal with it and leave. Me personally? I have no doubt that my life has been more interesting and is richer because of it.
People—all kinds of people from all kinds of different backgrounds—really can get along. It may take a little effort at first, but in a rather short time, for most people racism in Hawaii, is simply not a factor.
* Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, Guam, etc.