One can believe it comes from our forefathers and is still happening today because of how we were brought up. I was born and raised in Hawai‘i, known as the melting pot of the world. This means that there is not much discrimination. Through interracial marriages, Hawaiians have merged into one race, and even created a new way of speaking English. This sounds nice and well for Hawaiians living this lifestyle, but still some will not let go of who they are and what they believe. It is always difficult to have the majority of people accepting change, but in this case most Hawaiians have grown to accept this lifestyle.
How did this all come about and what can we learn from this? The truth is that Hawai‘i experienced conditions much like what slavery was in America before abolition. I grew up in the 50’s and can say I experienced the formation of what was to come. Though never once did my parents say, to me or my siblings, to stay with your own kind. It was still obvious that being with your own race was the way it should be.
When sugar became Hawai‘i’s gift to the world, the plantations brought in workers from many countries to work the fields. Americans would not work the fields, mostly because wages were too low. When foreigners arrived for work, the plantations planted different races in different communities mostly to hamper communication, but also to keep the workers from clashing. Eventually most of the workers began speaking English, which was the first step of intermingling.
As a young Portuguese boy, now in school with local and emigrant children, I had no problem mingling with other children, but I sensed a caution of identity. When our little league coach had decided to drive the team to another practice site, with the help of some parents, I was told by a teammate that I could not ride in this one particular vehicle, because I was not Japanese. It didn’t affect me much, because I was too young to understand. But when I started my high school years, I could clearly see that I didn’t fit in to some social groups. It is important for me to point out that not all were brought up to defend their race by isolating. It was mostly parents with fears of seeing their kids interacting with other cultures and learning bad habits. As time went on it was inevitable the Islanders would blend together.
The pure-blooded Hawaiians stood to lose the most. Like the American Indian, much had been taken from them: jobs, property, and their way of living. When it came to understanding cultures, language, and status, well, it all was up for grabs. Slowly, but surely as an adult now, I can clearly see the transformation. If you were to ask a Hawaiian today, he or she could probably not reveal their nationality, due to not knowing.
My point on racism is just this: In the United States we are already melding as Americans. We have made good strides on civil rights. There is no reason to continuing to live like our ancestors. As God-loving human beings, created equal, we need to see a future of less racism, and more respect for the whole human race. We do have equal rights, we just need to make it work. All races have good people and bad people, so no one is to blame for bad feelings but ourselves. If we can make a difference for good, our country will prevail, but only with less anger and more love.
Someday we will all be of One Race… If not here on earth, surely in Heaven.
Dennis Santos is Kaua‘i born and raised, Santa Barbara, California