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Beyond EthnicityNew Politics of Race in Hawai'i$
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Camilla Fojas, Rudy P. Guevarra, and Nitasha Tamar Sharma

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780824869885

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824869885.001.0001

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Race and/or Ethnicity in Hawai‘i

Race and/or Ethnicity in Hawai‘i

What’s the Difference and What Difference Does It Make?

Chapter:
(p.94) Chapter 5 Race and/or Ethnicity in Hawai‘i
Source:
Beyond Ethnicity
Author(s):

Jonathan Y. Okamura

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824869885.003.0007

This chapter argues that ethnicity is the dominant organizing principle of social relations in Hawai‘i since the 1970s when it superseded race. This contention is based on the social construction of Hawaii’s constituent groups as ethnic groups rather than races, on the consequent lesser construction and assertion of racial categories and identities commonly invoked in the continental United States, and on the ongoing regulation of differential access to socioeconomic status by ethnicity and not race (or class). The chapter first discusses the conceptual difference between race and ethnicity, outlines the historical transition from race to ethnicity as the foremost structural principle of island society, reviews persisting ethnic inequality evident from 2010 U.S. Census data, and analyzes the racial dimensions of the shooting death in 2011 of a young Native Hawaiian by a U.S. State Department agent in Waikīkī. The argument that ethnicity is more significant than race as the primary principle of social organization in contemporary Hawai‘i is consistent with multiculturalism being the dominant ideology related to race and ethnicity in the islands rather than colorblindness as in the continental United States.

Keywords:   Ethnicity, Race, Inequality, Native Hawaiian, Colorblindness, multiculturalism

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