Mayor Harry Kim’s Remark

Give the Big Island leader a break (May 18, 2018)

I would give Mayor Harry Kim a pass for using “colored guy” (“Chad Blair: Harry Kim Shouldn’t Get A Pass On Racist Comment”).

I belonged to the NAACP during the fight for civil rights era and fought for the fair housing law in California way back when. At one time “black” was considered derogatory and we were supposed to say “African-American,” so I had a hard time later changing to “black.”

“Negro” is technically correct, but some people think it is derogatory. I have trouble with what to say sometimes since I grew up with Mexicans in Southern California (now Latinos and Hispanics.) My 79-year-old white mind still wants to use “Mexican,” and I hunt for another word.

Hawaii island Mayoral Forum Harry Kim at Sangha Hall, Hilo, Hawaii. 14 july 2016
Many readers want to give Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim a pass, but at least one is concerned that given the chance to pull back his “colored guy” reference, Kim declined. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

We use the term “people of color” quite often in the press and government. Wikipedia: The term “person of color” is used primarily in the United States to describe any person who is not white.

In 2008, the NAACP communications director Carla Sims said “the term ‘colored’ is not derogatory; The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chose the word ‘colored’ because it was the most positive description commonly used (in 1909, when the association was founded). It’s outdated and antiquated but not offensive.”

— Gail Jackson, Waikoloa

No, it’s not OK at all (May 21, 2018)

The 400-plus Facebook howls are a measure of how precisely Chad Blair hit not one but two of our collective fantasies: Harry Kim is a saint among us and Hawaii is a model of racial harmony.

It’s a struggle to excuse Kim’s  remark. Had he only acknowledged that, given the chance, he would have done it differently he could have made it easier. His self-absorbed emphatic response of “no” shows how far the man is from his polished public persona.

Kim is a leader not just on Hawaii Island but throughout the state. As such, he sets an example for others.

“Colored” can now safely be added to the list of schoolyard taunts — perhaps county employees can add it to their vocabulary — even the police.

It is a minimal extra effort to be decent to our neighbors — but essential especially with the pervasive use of derisive racial names directed at their children.

— James Wright, Makiki

Racist versus political correct (May 18, 2018)

Yes, Harry Kim is a grandpa, Lee Cataluna, but I don’t think he is a racist. I think he was trying to be politically correct. I know my mother was not a racist by my definition, but she did not know the word African-American nor Japanese-American. I think she would have felt uncomfortable calling someone black but would have used “colored person” as a more politically correct and polite word. It’s lucky that Frank De Lima is given “a pass” since he is a comedian.

—Gordon Matsuda, Kapahulu

Kim is a great man (May 18, 2018)

I am sure you meant well in your lengthy headline story in Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island Mayor Harry Kim is no racist, clearly does not deserve being labeled one — especially not by such a credible news publication as Civil Beat.

I sincerely believe that had thorough research on Mayor Kim been done prior to printing of this headline news story it would likely never have been written, much less published.

Hopefully, and now in retrospect, you and your good colleagues at Civil Beat will do some further study of Harry Kim’s prior service to the Big Island as a multi-term mayor, civil defense director, and his good contributions to the community and all of Hawaii nei, over many years. Perhaps then you’ll set pen to paper and share what you see with your Civil Beat audience. Mahalo. Best to all at Civil Beat

— John Michael White, Honolulu

Kim is an honorable man (May 18, 2018)

Chad, I have known Mayor Kim for a short time, about two years now, and serve on his Veterans Advisory Committee. Mayor Kim is far from being racially motivated, or racially insensitive. Yes a poor choice of words. But let’s not make this a racist act on Mayor Kim’s part. The older we get, the more confused our society seems as we change and become polarized.

The mayor is an honorable man. I have had many conversations with him, and once while waiting to give the keynote address last Memorial Day as the mayor was preparing to address the crowd, I asked him how he managed without notes or any prepared remarks. He told me that he “let what was in his gut” be processed by what was in his heart, and spoke through his life’s experience.

When I got up to give my speech, my prepared remarks on the podium, a gust of wind blew them onto the ground, and as I had not numbered them, I stepped back and with Mayor Kim’s advice, let what was in my gut pass through my heart to the gathered crowd.

(That is available on youtube if you care to look, Memorial Day 2017, Hilo, Hawaii) 

In any event, Mayor Kim is an honorable man, but lets’ not kick the very good in search of the perfect soul..

— Michael Doolittle, Vice Chair, Hawaii Island Veterans Memorial Inc. member, Hawaii County Veterans Advisory Committee, Hakalau

Kim is doing his job (May 18, 2018)

Chad Blair, what are you doing?!!!

To me Harry Kim’s remark was an identifying remark. He could not use black, popolo or anything like that. He could say “red shirt,” tall guy, old man, young man, etc.

But how many around could have been identified the same? Are you blowing in ashes to make a fire? Harry Kim was doing his job. Please do not nitpick. We are all colored, yellow, blue, green, white, black, red, golden, tan, beautiful!

— Renee Coester, Pearl City

Clarifying animal reference (May 18, 2018)

Regarding Chad Owen’s article about Harry Kim — President Trump was referring to MS-13 gang members, not “some undocumented immigrants” when he called them animals.

— Patricia Reilly, Gulfport, Mississipi

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