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Monday, August 15, 2005
VIEWPOINTS | HAWAIIAN RIGHTS
Pauahi’s trust is
The recent ruling of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals against the 117-year-old admission policy of Kamehameha Schools has been misrepresented on television by plantiff's attorney Eric Grant and by letter-writers who are uneducated about the facts of her will and the school.
THE AUTHORPohai Ryan is ex-oficio president of the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association Oahu Region. She graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 1980.
Ke Alii Pauahi saw the need for Hawaiians to be educated in Western culture and curriculum in order to survive the rapidly changing demographics and modernization of Hawaii. She had the foresight and vision to establish Kamehameha Schools to address socio-economic inequities her people were already experiencing in the 1800s and continue to do so today.
With the help and guidance of non-Hawaiians, mostly American advisers and friends, Pauahi planned the future of her schools. These advisers knew her concerns for her people and helped her to create a legal charitable trust that would sustain many generations of Hawaiians. And so it has.
Many comparisons have been made recently and in the past of the segregated schools of the 1950s to Kamehameha Schools. This illogical argument fails to recognize that the segregated school systems of America's past were based on laws intended to suppress equality and keep nonwhites separated from whites, while the creation of Kamehameha Schools was Ke Alii Pauahi's effort to provide opportunities of equality through education of her people. This is the fundamental difference between Kamehameha Schools and other race-based schools of America's past that have been rightfully abolished.
Kamehameha Schools was recognized in a national magazine in 2001 as the most multiracial campus in the entire United States. No other campus can claim the mixture of nationalities and ethnicities that comprise the student body of Kamehameha Schools. This recent ruling contradicts that finding.
By virtue of her position, Ke Alii Pauahi provided for the Hawaiians. It was a lawful act to create this trust, and it remains lawful today that a nonprofit has the right to address societal ills and to identify at-risk groups (preference), implement programs to facilitate change (the school and its programs) and to measure its effect (alumni accomplishments and community contributions). The need to help the Hawaiians is necessary because our people have the highest incarceration rate, single-parent households, homelessness, mortality rates, etc.
The schools continue to meet legal criteria because the preference policy remains necessary and there are statistics that prove this. The trust is meant to correct past deprivations and to bring social justice to the Hawaiian people and not to keep others oppressed and deprived.
So, now is the time for non-Hawaiian supporters to stand beside us and support the schools mission and help us remain strong and steadfast in protecting this non-profit private trust and other native Hawaiian programs and alii trusts intended to serve the Hawaiian people.