Hawaii Residents Answer Newspaper's Charge Of Racial Intolerance

Henry Holthaus
Henry Holthaus
First Sergeant Christina Bhatti
First Sergeant Christina Bhatti
Lionel Haili
Lionel Haili

OAHU (KHNL) - A newspaper article from a national newspaper examines race relations in Hawaii. It claims racial tensions are simmering in our island paradise. The impetus comes from an incident couple of weeks ago when a local man and his son allegedly beat up a Caucasian couple in Waikele and used racial slurs.

Anytime the word "racism" creeps into a conversation, the topic becomes personal. KHNL News 8 spoke to locals, mainland transplants, and folks in the military to find out about race relations on our islands.

Hawaii: a crossroad of many cultures and ethnic backgrounds. But is our aloha spirit just a mirage?

"It seems to me there are a lot more problems on the mainland than here," said Henry Holthaus, a mainland transplant who has lived in Hawaii for over 30 years. "And it's why I'm here because we all get along."

"I personally haven't experienced a whole lot of racial incidents in my life, and here in Hawaii, I haven't experienced any," said Christina Bhatti, a first sergeant with the United States Army at Fort Shafter.

"A lot of Hawaiian people get along good with haole people," said Lionel Haili, a Kaneohe resident who is of Hawaiian ancestry.

But an article in Wednesday's USA Today newspaper claims there are racial tensions brewing underneath our island paradise.

"I think this is just sensationalism, something to put in the paper," said Holthaus.

The catalyst? A local man and his son allegedly beat up and hospitalized a Caucasian couple over a minor traffic accident. One of the suspects allegedly uttered a racial slur.

"I think that it's unfortunate, but I think it's an isolated incident, and it's definitely is not indicative of the Hawaiian culture that I've experienced," said Kendrick Washington, a former Army soldier who has lived in Hawaii for about 15 years.

And others agree.

"Whether you grew up in Waianae or Hawaii Kai, we're all human beings," said Haili. "Everybody has to live together."

Learning to live together for the betterment of all.

Some Caucasian residents off camera say they have experienced racism on our islands. But one thing everyone seems to agree: as Hawaii continues to become more diverse, tolerance is the key.