The Conversation: Ethnic Humor and Stereotypes in Hawai‘i

Apr 2, 2021

UH Manoa professor on race and ethnicity in Hawai‘i; Comedian Frank De Lima talks ethnic humor; Anti-Asian hate rally organizers from Hawai‘i

UH Manoa professor on race and ethnicity in Hawai‘i

Today we took a distinctly local look at anti-Asian hate amid the rising incidents of hate and discrimination across the country. UH Manoa professor Jonathan Okamura is an expert on race and ethnic studies. Here in Hawai‘i, violence and racism are particularly directed at Micronesians because some people believe they take public resources that they don't deserve, Okamura said. He spoke further about the nuances of ethnic discrimination, so-called "plantation humor," and the history of Hawai‘i's different ethnic groups.

Comedian Frank De Lima talks ethnic humor

Humor in Hawai‘i can find its roots in its plantation days, comedian Frank De Lima says. A lot of the humor comes from immitations and colloquialisms, he said, and professional comedians need to accept that some groups will not like their comedy--it comes with the territory. De Lima continues to write and perform, most recently a song about COVID-19 restrictions. 

Anti-Asian hate rally organizers in Hawai‘i

Senator Stanley Chang spoke at the Stop Asian Hate Rally at the Capitol. His comments, included in the program, demonstrate how race, class, privilege, and other factors may intersect unconsciously.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

Two organizers from the Stop Asian Hate rally in Honolulu spoke to us about their life experiences and what drove them to get involved. First, tech developer Jeff Kim talks about intersectionality--the way race, class, gender, privilege and more affect one's place in society. Businessowner Mylen Yamamoto Tansingco said she's become more aware of microaggressions and the way subtle racism can make people feel inferior and uncomfortable.  

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