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The Conversation: Ethnic Humor and Stereotypes in Hawai‘i

Noe Tanigawa

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.

Jonathan Okamura, UH Manoa professor emeritus

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. 

Comedian Frank De Lima

Anti-Asian hate rally organizers in Hawai‘i

Credit Noe Tanigawa
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.

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.  

Jeff Kim, tech developer and rally organizer; a speech from state Senator Stanley Chang; Mylen Yamamoto Tansingco, business owner and rally organizer


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Noe Tanigawa covers art, culture and ideas for Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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