Lifelong Hawaii resident has no other place to call home


POSTED: Sunday, September 06, 2009

Here we go again, another letter writer claimed that a non-native Hawaii resident “;has a place to return to; Hawaiians do not ”;Subdued event reflected reality,”; Star-Bulletin, Aug. 31).

I have a “;place to return to”;? I never lived anywhere else. So where am I supposed to “;return to”;? Am I supposed to return to Mexico? Puerto Rico? Spain? Portugal? Germany?

What about those who are part-Japanese/part-Filipino? Or those who are part-Tongan/part-Irish? Where do they “;return to”;?

This “;non-natives have a place to return to”; rhetoric is ridiculous. The reality is that many who grew up away from their ancestral lands would have extreme difficulty fitting in their ancestral lands.

For example, some Japanese moved to Latin America about a century ago. When their Latin American born descendants moved to Japan, they faced major issues. Though their DNA was Japanese, they were too culturally Latin-American to be accepted by the mainstream Japanese society.

This was also true of those who migrated to the U.S. as children, joined a gang, committed a felony and were deported to their birthplace. They included Cambodian and Salvadoran ex-cons who had a hard time fitting into their birthplace after spending a decade or two in the U.S.

This idea of “;non-natives have a place to return to”; is a part of a larger mentality of “;this is our land, the rest are intruders.”;

This mentality isn't limited to the vocal minority here in Hawaii. It was also present in the land where my last name came from—Germany. The Nazis felt Germany was the land of their ethnic group and others were intruders. This led to a mass murder of Jews, Gypsies and other groups. Some modern Europeans still have that “;this is our land, others are intruders”; attitude, leading to hate crimes against immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Now, let's talk about another of my ancestral lands—Latin America. The natives were conquered by the Spanish. But the descendants of the conquerors are there to stay. The descendants of the conquered, conquerors, imported slaves and settlers are accepted as a part of the modern Latin American social fabric.

Most people in Hawaii, native Hawaiians and non-native, have accepted that the descendants of the conquered, conquerors and other settlers are part of the modern Hawaii social fabric.

Those without native Hawaiian ancestry need to respect native Hawaiian culture. And the xenophobic minority who say “;non-natives have a place to return to”; need to accept that non-natives aren't going to go away.

As Rodney King has said: “;Can't we all just get along?”;

Pablo Wegesend is a lifelong Honolulu resident who occasionally writes letters and guest editorials. You can check out more of his writings at http://pablowegesend.blogspot.com