December 14, 2020: Wednesday World Blog Post #4
Updated: Apr 16, 2021
Written by Karina Anders
Hawaii, a state located in the Pacific Ocean, is physically and culturally isolated from the rest of the United States. Hawaii has no racial majority and the population is a large mixture of different ethnicities due to Hawaii’s history. It is important to examine Hawaii’s history to understand how it came to be one of the most diverse places in the world.
The first inhabitants of Hawaii are believed to have been Polynesian settlers that arrived on the islands around 300 CE. James Cook, a British explorer, was the first foreigner to find the islands in 1778. Over the next few decades, European and American explorers visited the islands in search of resources. These foreigners introduced disease to the Hawaiians, leading to the collapse of the native population, killing 90% of Hawaiians. This crisis led to major social and political changes as well as the adoption of Christianity by many native Hawaiians.
In the 1800s, many ethnic groups immigrated to Hawaii to work on the plantations (mainly sugar cane and pineapple farms). Workers came from China, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines, as well as from the U.S. mainland. As each group settled on the islands, they brought with them their own culture and traditions, creating a multicultural environment. An example of the unification of many ethnic groups in Hawaii is Pidgin English, a mix of all the labor group languages, which allowed people to communicate more easily. Stereotypes exist for each ethnic group, but ethnic humor is not seen as offensive in Hawaii as it treats all groups fairly and serves to celebrate diversity. As the different groups began to interact more with each other, interacial relationships were normalized and multiethnic children became more common.
Now, Hawaii is a beautiful mix of many different cultures, making it a very different environment than the most of the United States. Although Hawaii’s population is so diverse, racial prejudice still exists. While in the U.S mainland, minority groups such as African Americans and Latinx people are discriminated against, caucasians from the U.S. mainland are targeted in Hawaii. While Hawaii has its struggles, it is important to understand how this flourishing community differs from many other states. Hawaii’s history demonstrates how people from completely different backgrounds are able to live together in harmony, instead of being divided.