Note: This is part 6 of a larger webpage. The larger webpage is entitled "Dialogs with a racist -- Bringing to public awareness the explicit, enthusiastic, and unapologetic racism of Trisha Kehaulani Watson, a featured blogger on the public website of the largest circulation newspaper in Hawaii." To see that larger webpage, go to
6. Where Are They Supposed To Go?
["(Note: since the majority of the "houseless" in Wai'anae are Native Hawaiians, and Hawai'i is our home, I was taught that the preferred term is "houseless," not homeless. So the term "houseless" will be used in reference to Native Hawaiians and "homeless" for those of non-Hawaiian ancestry.)"] Trisha Kehaulani Watson dialog started June 28, 2009
Honolulu Advertiser featured blog He Hawai'i Au
Original essay by Trisha Kehaulani Watson
(Note: since the majority of the "houseless" in Wai'anae are Native Hawaiians, and Hawai'i is our home, I was taught that the preferred term is "houseless," not homeless. So the term "houseless" will be used in reference to Native Hawaiians and "homeless" for those of non-Hawaiian ancestry.)
I'll admit I'm a little sensitive when it comes to this topic. My dissertation started out as a project on the "houseless" in Wai'anae. I spent a lot of time on those beaches talking with families without anywhere else to live. Many held regular jobs. Most were families. It was some of the most difficult work I've ever done, because seeing the living conditions which we subject fellow Hawai'i residents to was horrifying.
And I'm sick of seeing one eviction after another occur.
Where are they supposed to go?
Every branch of government is cutting back on services as it is. We don't have enough shelters, and the system we have is a "one size fits all" that clearly doesn't fit everybody. We haven't followed through on transitional housing. And there isn't enough low-income housing, if you even get that far. Not to mention that public policy issues and a depressed economy are leaving more and more people without anywhere else to go but beaches and over-crowded emergency shelters.
And evictions only compound these problems, because it makes it even more difficult for support services to help families get out of their difficult situations in the first place. Outreach workers cannot follow up with families. Children, who already face a multitude of educational difficulties, are further hurt. Most agree that the one thing people often need to get back on their feet is stability - and here we go again, making sure that's the one thing they don't have.
For example, if you don't have a job, and are actively looking for one: where exactly do you list as your street address?
We are so critical of these people, but we don't nothing other than kick them while they are down. It must stop.
Those who live on beaches face eviction from any number of sources, depending on jurisdiction and land ownership. They can be evicted by the State (DLNR, DOT, etc), the City, the Federal government or private landowners. This makes it rather easy for any one of these entities to play the blame game, because the role of the "bad guy" constantly rotates.
I'm not saying having the homeless or houseless in your neighborhood is easy. It's not. It can be bothersome for some. Yet, I think learning about the problem and developing empathy of those who find themselves impacted by it is critical. The Honolulu Advertiser did a wonderful series on the homeless, you can read it here.
Ultimately, the solution will be multifaceted. There will need to be more shelters, yet we will also have to start to place programs within those shelters that reflect our community and our history. A way to ensure this would be to turn management of these shelters over to local companies or organizations. We need to increase transitional housing, and ensure that those places also have the educational, health, legal, and other social services necessary to help families, especially children. We need to improve and increase low-income housing so that we are helping people who are struggling to get back up on their feet, but also so that we catch those who are beginning to fall. We all need to be working together, and the reality is that it often doesn't happen.
We should also create alternative living communities that allow "houseless" families who have learned to live with and off the land to continue to do so. There are people who just want land to live on in a space that is safe, so they can raise their families and grow food to eat. Why can't we do this? Why can't we allot land with a water source (i.e., a stream) for Hawaiians and others to create their own kauhale system?
I just cannot understand why the government would pick now, when everything is already bad and only getting worse, to act with such little compassion and ask these people to move... again.
by Ken Conklin
Trisha Watson begins her essay with this comment:
"(Note: since the majority of the "houseless" in Wai'anae are Native Hawaiians, and Hawai'i is our home, I was taught that the preferred term is "houseless," not homeless. So the term "houseless" will be used in reference to Native Hawaiians and "homeless" for those of non-Hawaiian ancestry.)"
Thank you for such an open and flagrant display of your racism. You previously wrote an essay stating "I see the world as being binary: Hawai'i (Hawaiians or Native Hawaiians) and haole (non-Hawaiians)" That was pretty clear. In another essay you set forth your view that government benefits should be distributed in proportion to percentage of Hawaiian native blood quantum -- get more koko, get more goodies. That was even more emphatically racist.
Now comes this newest assertion, that two people camped on the beach right next to each other because they lack housing should be labeled differently (and presumably should be treated differently) solely on account of race -- one has a drop of the magic blood and therefore should be called "houseless" while the other has none of the magic blood and therefore must bear the burden of the more demeaning and deprecating label "homeless." You choose the most poor and downtrodden people to be the target of your racism, giving them an extra kick in the teeth.
And if that wasn't bad enough, that distinction you made in the quote above is what the lawyers would call totally gratuitous and prejudicial -- it had no bearing on the rest of your little essay -- you never elaborated on or made use of that distinction anywhere else in your essay. It was simply a chance for you to display your racism. Let no opportunity go unused.
by Nanakuli Bill [a Hawaiian homesteader therefore having more than 50% native blood quantum]:
Trisha, why can't you just stick to the subject and lay off the Hawaiian vs the non-Hawaiian stuff. It's insulting to the non-Hawaiian spouses I've spoken to. Homelessness is a serious topic and one that OHA and Hawaiian homes can lend a hand in but are not. Why? And yes, my wife and I help them as best we can. By the way, did you tell the homeless Tita at the beach her Portuguese husband wasn't homeless and why? (I can hear her now…What? He gotta go Portugal for dat?)
by Pablo Wegesend:
AMEN to Nanakuli Bill, Many non-Native Hawaiians (including me) have Native Hawaiian relatives and are tired of being pitted against each other!
Nanakuli Bill mentioned "By the way, did you tell the homeless Tita at the beach her Portuguese husband wasn't homeless and why? (I can hear her now…What? He gotta go Portugal for dat?), what Watson probably doesn't realize is that the overwhelming majority of non-natives have almost ZERO connection to their ancestor's lands.
It's like the Japanese descended people who lived in Latin America for generations. Some of them moved to the land of their Japanese ancestors, but guess what? They didn't fit in! Their DNA may be Japanese, but they're culturally too Latinized to be accepted by the rest of the Japanese!
Same thing with immigrant gang members deported to El Salvador, Cambodia, etc. Many of those arrived to the US as children, but they didn't take their citizenship tests. After being deported for their criminal acts, the same exact people who left El Salvador, Cambodia, etc could NO longer fit in their place of birth. They're stigmatized as "too American"
Also, I remember reading that in urban Honolulu (more diverse than Leeward Oahu, where some of my part-Hawaiian relatives grew up), about half of the shelter residents were Micronesians. Some of their islands were nuked by US nuclear tests, and now they're the most discriminated people in Hawaii!
Also, in urban Honolulu, in most housing projects, Native Hawaiians are outnumbered by Samoans and Micronesians.
It's NOT because they're "taking away housing from Hawaiians", because there are neighborhoods for Hawaiians only (ie Papakolea, parts of Waimanalo, Waianae, Nanakuli). The Samoans and Micronesians are on average even more poor, more disadvantaged than the average Native Hawaiian!
Let's not forget that in most suburban communities, Native Hawaiians outnumber Micronesians and Samoans.
This is not about "pitting Pacific Islanders against each other", it's the unspoken truth, a truth too many are scared to say in public!
So for those living on beaches and shelters, let's help everyone, regardless of their DNA!
by Pablo Wegesend later on
In my previous post, I mentioned that in many public housing projects, Native Hawaiians are outnumbered by Samoans and Micronesians.
About 20 years ago, Samoans were the majority group in most housing projects. Since then, while many Samoan families moved up the economic ladder, others who haven't left the public housings felt left behind as many of their new neighbors are Micronesians
In the last few years, there has been violence between Samoans and Micronesians in those public housing projects.
This is similar to my uncle's former neighborhood in Inglewood. Inglewood is considered part of South Central LA, even though it is outside of LA city limits. Anyways, many of those neighborhoods were mostly African-American. But since many African-Americans moved to the suburbs (or to other cities like Atlanta), those who remain in South Central LA feel left behind as many of their new neighbors are immigrants from Mexico and Central America.
Now there has been violence in those neighborhoods between the African-American and Latino gangs!
What is the Native Hawaiian sovereignty activist's perspective on all this.
Is it empathy for these groups or is it "(beep) 'em, they're not one of us"?
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