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October 03, 2002

Minor Majority

A recent issue of Honolulu Magazine (I didn't even know it was still around, but I'm getting copies now at work, and it looks great) was dubbed "The People Issue," and examined who we are. Although at heart revisiting the same Census demographic data we all heard about months ago, they approached it from a fun angle, putting a human face on the numbers.

They also took an unusual look at ethnicity and geography, listing the neighborhoods with the highest concentration of specific races. Most Haole? Spreckelsville, Maui (89%) and Lanikai (87.5%). Most Japanese? Upper Manoa (64.9%) and... Woodlawn Manoa (62.9%). I have to admit, and hate to admit, there were no surprises.

Here are the numbers in more detail. I should note that these are "Census Tracts," not "Neighborhoods" - surprisingly small areas of only 2,000 to 4,000 people, often single streets.

White: Sprecklesville, Maui (89%), Lanikai (87%), Wailea, Maui (86%), Kalaheo Avenue (81.3%), Pu`u Papa`a in Kailua (79.2%).

Japanese: Upper Manoa (64.9%), Woodlawn Manoa (62.9%), Pearl City Uplands (60.6%), 22nd Avenue in Kaimuki (59.1%), Ho`ohulu Street in Pearl City (56.2%).

Filipino: Ulana Street in Kalihi (74.6%), Kalihi Kai (72.2%), Kalihi Waena (70.2%), Kaukonahua in Waialua (70.1%), Waipahu-Mauka (68.1%).

Hawaiian: Ni`ihau (81.3%), Nanakuli-Lualualei (78.5%), Waimanalo Beach-Homesteads (74.4%), West Moloka`i (65.7%), Hana, Maui (62.7%).

Chinese: `A`ala (49%), Foster Botanic Garden (40.5%), Makiki Heights (36.9%), Chinatown (34.6%), Diamond Head (33.2%).

Korean: Kaheka Street (20.3%), Foster Botanic Garden (17.6%), Ka`ahumanu School (16.2%), Ala `Ilima High Rise-Mauka (16%), `A`Aala (13.6%).

African American: Beaver Road, Schofield Barracks (28.1%), Aliamanu Crater (26.7%), Kolekole Avenue, Schofield Barracks (26.6%), Wheeler-East Range, Wahiawa (25%), Menoher Street, Schofield Barracks (24.3%).

Of course, self segregation is natural. Ethnic groups form subcommunities in cities everywhere, and Hawaii is certainly more blended than most (I remember visiting Portland, and someone I just met said, "You must live in Beaverton!"). That's why I always preferred to think of the islands as a tasty "mixed plate," rather than a "melting pot." We clearly do have to walk a fine line between assimilation and the preservation of cultural history and identity.

Do you think Korean immigrants are missing anything by automatically moving to Makiki? (More than one friend has referred to the street I live on as "Koreamoku.") Do you think the concentration of Caucasians in Lanikai (87%!) is a good thing, or a sad commentary on class/race relations? Do you think there's a reason that a residential African American community has never really taken hold here?

Just food for thought.

Posted by Prophet Zarquon at October 03, 2002 09:05 PM


Posted by James Rodden on October 4, 2002 12:21 AM:

Hey Ryan, I'm glad i checked out the link on your profile and found this great page.

Minor Majority..

i think it has more to do with social class than it does with race relations.. if there are more wealthy haole than there are say, Japanese, Hawaiian, Korean then they are going to be centered in an upscale area like Maui. i dont think its to seclude themselves from the working class locals.. the rich will always live among the rich, and people living without wealth reside within the affordabe area's.

im sure that for Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino or any other ethnic group, that living among your own people has it's benefits. having a common bond with like minded people, the familiarality of living with family, friends. especially for newly arrived immigrants, having a sense of togetherness is most likely a survival tool.

as far as there being a lack of any real african american community. it appeared to me that Hawaii was absent of any real racism or bigotry that you might see in other parts of the US. african americans dont need to be isolated from the white majority or in this case "asian/hawaii majority" as they had done in the past. they can assimilate into the mainstream society without a fear of being outcasted or ridiculed. it looks like the majority of african americans resided within the schofield barracks, meaning Military.

these assumptions/opinions are that of a young haole far from beautiful Hawaii, with the experience of a week long touist in Oahu..

in conclusion and on a more personal note, my cousin who is also haole lives in Maui, a close friend who is Black lives with his haole wife on the Schofield barracks, and another good friend of mine who is Filipino was visiting Hawaii and staying with his family in Kalihi. all fitting the segregated trend shown in the Census from Prophet Zarquon.

Posted by Linkmeister on October 4, 2002 7:39 AM:

I also suspect that recent immigrants move in with or near to family members, since preferences (at least pre-9/11) were given to family members of citizens.

Posted by lisa on October 4, 2002 8:38 PM:

Yeah, I guess I fit the trend too, but I think they forgot to mention that Kailua is probably the #1 place for mixed-race couples :)

I would love to live in Lanikai, but as James pointed out, it's hardly affordable on *anyone's* scale. Those celebrities (and all the vacation rentals) really skew the data there, IMHO.

What disturbs me more than where people live is the segregation in employment, and the none-to-subtle racism. Different types of companies have different racial makeups.

Even within a single organization, there are layers- for example, top management is typically primarily Japanese (with maybe a haole or two), middle management haole, worker bees Japanese/Chinese, and receptionist/clerks Filipino or part Hawaiian/mixed race.

Posted by scrivener on October 6, 2002 2:43 PM:

Lisa, I don't know if you should find the "segregation in employment" particularly disturbing. It's a characteristic of any community with a steady stream of immigrants.

One reason upper-management types are more likely to be Caucasian, Japanese, or Chinese is simply that these ethnicities have been a part of Hawaii's business community for much longer than others. A hundred years ago, the Japanese and Chinese were the low end of the economic totem pole.

As generations give way to generations, ethnic groups move "up" (I hesitate to use that word here, because it seems like I'm demeaning poorer ethnic groups but I'm really not) the economic scale, while newer groups move in to take the other jobs.

The part of Downtown Honolulu that we call Chinatown is a great example of this. Yes, there will always be a Chinese presence there, but Chinatown has really been Vietnamtown for many years now, and there are more and more Laotian and Thai businesses in that area than there used to be.

There would seem to be two ethnicities that buck the trend--Hawaiians and Filipinos. The Hawaiian thing is almost certainly because although the Hawaiians have been here the longest, they were the ones on whom the American business culture and climate were imposed. It's the usual native-culture-loses-while-invading-culture-wins thing.

As for the Filipinos, who have been here 100 years now, I think there's a very, very good reason for the fact that the highest concentrations of Filipinos continues to be Kalihi while a Filipino is also the Governor of the state: Filipinos are still bringing relatives over. While nations like Japan and Korea have exploded onto the world marketplace in the last hundred years, the Philippines remains largely--well, the Philippines, I guess. I know Filipinos who've lived here fifty years, who worked two jobs to bring wives, parents, children, brothers, nieces, nephews, and other relatives to Hawaii, one or two at a time, and who continue to do so. And where are these Fresh-Off-the-Boats going to live? First, where their hard-working relatives live. And what kind of jobs are they going to get?

A full-Filipino friend of mine, whose parents went to mainland universities and now own a construction business on Oahu, told me once that her family always sends its hand-me-down clothes to relatives in the Philippines. She said that whenever she goes back for a visit, she sees all her old clothes being worn by people all over the village. Seems like everywhere she turns, there's someone wearing something that she bought on sale at Sears.

I'm not sure why I include this image here, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I have relatives in Asian countries too, but if any of them live in that kind of poverty, it's almost certainly the exception, and not the rule. And there's a poem in there somewhere.

So maybe I wouldn't call it "segregation" so much as "the American Dream" at work.

Posted by Stella on October 6, 2002 7:56 PM:

As for the Filipinos, who have been here 100 years now, I think there's a very, very good reason for the fact that the highest concentrations of Filipinos continues to be Kalihi while a Filipino is also the Governor of the state: Filipinos are still bringing relatives over.

To put it simply: word.

I think it's safe for me to say that the "dual-chain" immigration system has been working quite well in bringing more Pinoy immigrants to the islands, even if the process has gotten a lot slower (in some cases, the backlog can go as far back as 1981) and a lot has changed, in terms of both procedures and economic conditions, since 9/11. As it stands, "our" population numbers are up to around 15 to 18% of the state. And it's not just the FOBs we're seeing here; we're also talking about young professionals, which - judging from the scuttlebutt I've heard from my part of the boondocks (ahem, Metro Manila) - are getting hired mostly in tech, finance, and education, and settling down as far as New York and Houston.

There's also the military to consider; granted, we don't have as many of the old guys nowadays serving the "Joes," but I'm seeing a lot of younger Filipinos joining the Navy lately, as well as soldiers who marry Filipinas, who then petition their parents and eventually get the ball rolling.

And here's an anecdote: I distinctly remember walking through Kahala Mall with a group of Filipinos only to have one of them whisper, "We're the only brown-skinned people in here!" Whereas, if you go to Pearlridge on a weekend, you won't be surprised to hear a lot of Filipino kids practicing their Tagalog on each other.

Posted by scrivener on October 10, 2002 3:00 PM:


You know, as I was typing that response, I was really hoping you'd chime in, either with confirmation of what I was putting forth or some kind of elaboration. Thanks for doing both!

I have a tendency to speak (write) as if I'm an expert on everything (it's part of this Superman complex of mine), when I'm just an ignorant shmoe who likes the sound of his own voice (and the look of his own font). So I was a little nervous about what I was writing, knowing that you were actually someone in a position to say something meaningful.

I'm fascinated by the Filipino presence in Hawaii, and almost voted for Ben Cayetano just because I thought it would be good for the Filipino community. I quickly came to my senses, however, and voted Libertarian. :)

Posted by Stella on October 10, 2002 6:15 PM:

Hey, Scriv, no problem! :) I know I get snippy sometimes with things like this, but I'm glad to be of help anyway.

(Besides, this is a community blog, after all - as I always say, shoot first, encode later...)

Posted by Denise on November 12, 2002 2:47 PM:

I attended Leilehua High in the 70s and lived on Schofield. The diversity and cultural awareness I experienced in Hawaii have helped to shape me today. I now live in Florida, which suffers greatly from racial strife. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to experience the rich culture of Hawaii. Cherish it you guys...you have a jewel in your diverse culture. Aloha

Posted by Kelele on March 28, 2004 7:43 AM:

Filipinos are everywhere!

For god sake, go back to PI(Philipines) and better your country so that you do not squat on others.

Do not call yourself pacific islanders(unless you have a drop of Melanesain, Micronesian, and Polynesian blood). Other than that, you folks are asians living on an island. Just like the Japanese, Tawaianese, and Indonesia.

Posted by eh? on October 31, 2005 9:30 PM:


Posted by Kiahlin on November 9, 2005 5:21 PM:

The post by Kelele shows a sad point about Hawai'i -- sometimes there's a lot more racism here than people want to admit. Just because you aren't haole, doesn't mean you can't be racist. Stop this kind of hatred all around! :(

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