Wednesday Panel to Tackle Race in Hawaii
An actor, an entrepreneur, a president’s half sister, and a bank vice president turned trustee will lead an undoubtedly provocative panel discussion on Wednesday titled, “What Can Hawaii Teach America About Race?”
Hawaii gave the United States its first multi-racial president. Not surprising, as it’s home to the nation’s largest share of multiracial Americans. The country is at a tipping point, where “minorities” will become the majority, and while there are three other states that have already crossed over, it has always been the case in Hawaii.
Yes, Hawaii is far from a racial paradise. But its unusual mix of ethnicities and cultures in Hawaii have been of keen interest to outsiders for decades. “Hawaii has already made striking progress towards creating racial harmony,” noted Foreign Affairs in 1938… two years before the attack on Pearl Harbor. And First Lady Michelle Obama has said, “You can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii.”
Obama’s maternal half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is part of the panel, along with renowned actor Daniel Dae Kim, business speaker and author Guy Kawasaki, and Kamehameha Schools trustee Corbett Kalama. The discussion will explore “what Hawaii has done right on race and how the U.S. might benefit from this example.”
The event is part of “What It Means to Be American,” a national series of “multiplatform, multimedia conversations” organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and Zócalo Public Square in Arizona. The synopsis for the Honolulu event reads:
In America, the possibility that ethnic minorities may soon constitute a majority has caused considerable panic in some quarters, contributing to political polarization and gridlock. In Hawaii, however, the notion of a majority-minority state is old hat. Indeed, Hawaii is America’s most diverse state. And its approach to race has been very different… What’s Hawaii’s secret? Why is intermarriage so much more common here than in the rest of the country? And what mistakes has Hawaii made in matters of identity and race that the U.S. should avoid?
Similar live public events are being held in eight other cities, in addition to presentations at universities and in national media outlets, and features on the official website, including articles profiling different places, identities, and artifacts.
“What Can Hawaii Teach Us About Race?” will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at Kakaako Agora (441 Cooke Street). Hosted by the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, it’s listed as a “private” event, but you can register online.
Hat tip: Burt “Bytemarks” Lum.