The Honolulu City Council approved a resolution on Wednesday urging city and state agencies to disaggregate racial and ethnic data beyond the federal minimum level.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Esther Kia‘aina pushed the measure forward with an ultimate goal to accurately break down data for Asian and Pacific Islanders in Hawaii.

“We are simply recommending that all county and state agencies disaggregate racial and ethnic data relating to Asian and Pacific Islanders so that we can enforce civil rights laws to monitor equal access in health, housing, education and other areas,” Kia‘aina said. “And allow for the creation of policy to address underlying disparities in such areas.”

City Council Resolution 21-100 calls on the agencies to work with Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander organizations to improve their data collection and submit a report by next year.

The resolution, which is nonbinding, would disaggregate the top five groups, including Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Kosraean and Vietnamese for the Asian category.

For the Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander category, the resolution would request that Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Micronesians, Tongans and Chamorros would also be disaggregated.

“Marshallese would normally be in the top five,” Kia‘aina said. “The reason we use the term Micronesian is because it will separate the collections of their data from all other communities.”

Micronesian communities are composed of Chuukese, Palauan, Korean, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Marshallese and Micronesians from Kiribati and the Republic of Nauru.

According to the U.S. Census, nearly half of Hawaii’s population identifies as either Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Andria Tupola, who supports the resolution, said she recently spoke with the Honolulu Police Department about a possible language unit.

“Knowing what representations of ethnic groups really need support and where we can better support them specifically is of much interest to me, and I think it would do a better service to the communities that we represent,” Tupola said.

Honolulu City Councilman Calvin Say said he wished the resolution was introduced in 2019 before the 2020 U.S. Census data was released. 

“It would’ve really helped the state of Hawaii in the federal monies that we were able to qualify for,” Say said. “At this point in time, realizing that the data is not available, it made it very difficult for the U.S. Census Bureau to really do an in-depth study for the people of Hawaii.”

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