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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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The Racial Imperative

The Racial Imperative

Rereading Hawai‘i’s History and Black-Hawaiian Relations through the Perspective of Black Residents

(p.114) Chapter 6 The Racial Imperative
Beyond Ethnicity

Nitasha Tamar Sharma

University of Hawai'i Press

In line with the broader mission of this collection, this essay highlights race as central to group dynamics and contemporary life in Hawai‘i. It analyzes how race comingles with indigeneity through the relations between Blacks and Hawaiians in ways that disrupt the predominant paradigms of culture and ethnicity that tend to obfuscate dispossession, racism, and unequal power relations. I highlight this history and call upon my findings from interviews with Black residents in the islands, including Black Hawaiians (locals whose fathers are Black and whose mothers are Kanaka Maoli or Native Hawaiian), to reflect shifting evaluations of Blackness and Hawaiianess over time. Focusing on Blacks in Hawai‘i and their relationships with Hawaiians over time reveals overlapping racialization of a U.S. minority and an indigenous group. The essay charts out how, when we view the history and experiences of Hawai‘i through the eyes of African descended people, race becomes the imperative analytic. Race becomes the imperative analytic lens when we review of the history of Black people in Hawai‘i, from the migration of whalers in the 18th century to the arrival of military personnel through the impacts of the Black Power movement upon Native Hawaiian political movements for sovereignty.

Keywords:   Indigeneity, race, racism, Black Hawaiian, African descent, Military, sovereignty

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