Hawaii is often stereotyped as an idyllic paradise in which racial harmony exists, and this is true, to an extent. Where the continental U.S. battles with issues of acculturation and assimilation, amalgamation has manifested itself in Hawaii with the creation of the “local,” a person of mixed ancestry from several ethnic groups. The cultures of the different groups are melded into one in which aspects of each culture is preserved, and often blended, due to similarities and circumstance. In spite of this positive example of the “melting pot,” Hawaii is also a place of deep-seated racism against whites, whom locals refer to as “mainlanders” or haole. The haoles are the compelling minority in Hawaii, in the sense that they are numerically the smallest group, as well as being the subordinate group that lacks cultural capital in Hawaiian culture.
Notably, the marginalization of the haole corresponds with the construction of the “local” identity; both identities were the effects of, as well as the reaction to, the history of white/American colonialism. This project seeks to examine the role of historical context in the construction of the “local” from the emic (insider’s) perspective.
Angeline Rivera, ’13
Ewa Beach, HI
Majors: English, Secondary Education
Sponsor: Jill Heinrich