Let’s Make One Thing Clear
Opinion by Todd Yamashita
There’s no room for violence or racism in this community, or in any other. Racism is corrosive to the soul of our community and a distraction from the hard work others are doing to raise Molokai up.
It’s true, Hawaii and Hawaiians exist in a colonized state. Financial and societal pressures continue exasperating the struggle for survival for a large portion of our population, if not most of us.
For anyone shielded by privilege, it is a vastly unseen force: the ugly and heavy burden of injustice, inequity and oppression that no one here has been asked to shoulder.
Tourism is in full swing and the snowbirds are back. It’s been three years and people are falling over themselves to be here. The inrush of people who do not understand the oppressive forces faced by our community has created a palpable contrast and disconnect between all groups.
For a very few, in the absence of understanding and empathy, there has been left a space for fear and utter hatred toward people based on what they look like and where they come from.
I’ve been to small islands in the Pacific where people hate you. Small communities like ours overrun with cruise ships and tourists.
Molokai has shown that is not our path. We have spoken out loudly over the decades to unite, to speak toward aloha ʻaina, and to maka’ala using our values, brains and hearts, rather than fists.
But until we can trend back to that place, we need to protect ourselves and each other from extremism: the rising rate of racial violence and terroristic threatening that is proliferating on Molokai.
If you experience this, report it to the Molokai Police Department immediately. Keep in mind they will respond to and make record of occurrences but need evidence to make arrests.
No matter how uncomfortable, it is your right to record altercations with video on your phone, which is sometimes the only available proof you’ll have to corroborate.
In many circumstances, you will also need to be willing to show up in court.
I have a friend with an unsent letter in his drawer addressed to his mother. It lets her know who to look for in case he’s killed or disappears somewhere on Molokai. It’s a heartbreaking but real story.
None of this is comfortable or fair, but racism and violence are by nature difficult to fix and the wounds tough to heal.
We need that secret sauce now more than ever… That ability to fight the issues without beefing each other. There are a lot of amazing things this little island is doing to empower itself and it’s that dialogue that needs to continue to rise.
May the mercy of peace reach each of us.