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From our Reader Feedback form (author’s name not always available):

Locals vs. tourists

Feb. 18 — Simple speaking I think locals are getting left behind and minimized. Tourism numbers are skyrocketing and having more and more of an impact on our daily life.  The roads, neighborhoods, restaurants, beaches, businesses, etc. Tourists are now becoming more common in places that were locals only.  Some of my favorite places I now avoid due to tourists. Tourist get nice things, buildings, etc.  Some businesses, local or not, are booming.  Yet it seems locals get little reward.  We are still paying high taxes, poor infrastructure, underfunded schools and still struggle to get by.  Housing, our biggest cost, continues to grow yet it seems investors, foreigners or mainlanders, folks with money are getting the benefits and/or even causing some of the issues. Kakaako is a place for tourist and outsiders now, it used to be a bustling local spot years ago.  Countless vacation homes sit unoccupied.  People with money made elsewhere buying their way into Hawaii to live their dream. Yet locals get priced out (due to low wages too), cannot afford a place, need help from family, or crowd into housing.What that leads to is locals leaving for greener pastures. Leaving their home and roots because they just cannot take it anymore.  Our local culture leaving with them.  Only to be replaced by outsiders, non-locals, who are different.  Who see things differently and often do not mesh with our local way of life and mentality.  But they just want the “island lifestyle.”  I’ve lived across the country and Hawaii’s local culture and its people are unique and special, there’s no equal elsewhere.  Our local culture is getting diluted and it’s starting to feel palpable.  There’s always been a rift between locals and non-locals and it’s only getting stronger and more restless due to the forces in play these days.

Selected comments from “Neal Milner: I’m Happy Being An Outsider In Hawaii,” Feb. 20:

Very safe thoughts, thanks. I think the complexities of identity run especially nuanced for ‘local haoles’ as evidenced in another recent article. If your homeland always puts your belonging status with an asterisk it will create tension with your own relationship to that place.

On the mainland, Asian-Americans and Pscific Islanders especially deal with the otherization from being ‘exotic’. Thankfully, this is way less common than when I was a kid. But for every local person I know who’s resentful about the influence of the malihini and the haole outsider, I still wonder how that stacks up against the alienation that many mainlanders I’ve known have been through. In many communities, the typical reaction to police presence is fear, not comfort. Many mainlanders have seen their cities torn apart and rebuilt in the newcomers’ image.

Maybe in the 21st century we’ll redefine these identities not because they’re wrong, but because too many people will no longer fit in them. — Manoa Armstrong

As a member of the Jewish diaspora myself, I wonder if living as an “outsider” in Hawaii is any different than living as an outsider anywhere else in the U.S. After all, Judaism’s entire history has been that of the “outsider”. So, perhaps, as a perpetual outsider, Jews may be better equipped to “fit in”? — studephan

• Perhaps the local vs outsider divide was honed over the the decades by the myth that Hawaii was a utopian melting pot. Ever since my ancestors arrived in 1885, it has and probably always will be a salad bowl, disparate ingredients mixed together to make a whole. — Guadakash

• Aloha, i am a caucasian, also lived in Hawaii close to 50 years. I think the death of the Native Hawaiians due to introduced diseases, the illegal overthrow of the monarchy, banning speaking Hawaiian, dancing hula, praticing culture, etc, is a tragedy. I apologise to the Hawaiian people for these terrible injustices. That being said, i don’t want to be judged by the color of my skin. I will treat you with courtesy, old school manners regardless. Mahalo — robynal

• I’m tired of being called an Asian-American, as if I’m Asian first. I would prefer American-Asian, since America is where I was born, and the Asian part is smaller. Three of my grandparents were born here, and I grew up in the days when parents wanted their kids to fit in, rather than being seen as FOB (fresh off the boat). So we really grew up local, a little of all kinds of cultures. And yet, we all have experienced being an “outsider” — a guest in a room full of people of a different Asian culture, acting and eating differently from us. (As a local, it’s “no beeg ting!”) — Baddog

• Instead of “local”, perhaps a better term to use, for someone born and raised in Hawaii is, “Keiki O Ka ‘Aina”. Regardless of race, if you’re born in Hawaii, you are “Keiki O Ka ‘Aina”. If you’re born someplace else, then you’re from someplace else. If you are Native Hawaiian, regardless of where you were born and raised, then you will always be Kanaka Maoli. — ckn

• Much Ado about the label local. It’s not the end all or be all but another form of belonging and identity. for myself I don’t apologize for being born and raised in Hawaii with various residences elsewhere outside of the islands. Local can be a source of pride and distinction if you allow it to be but more importantly is your interaction with other people and the community you live in. Being local should not exclude tolerance, humility, respect and compassion, universal values that bind us all as human beings. Whatever your own identity, accept it, learn to live harmoniously with everyone. Don’t give in to the negative stuff. Life is really to brief. Enjoy it. Aloha to all. — Incredibles2

Hawaii Theatre marquee. 2 nov 2016

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