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article imageWill Obama's Election End Kill Haole Day in Hawaii?

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By Carol Forsloff     Jan 6, 2009 in Lifestyle
Kill haole day has been around for decades. It's not a myth; young people say it happens, and sometimes incidents hit the press on the islands.
Local school kids in Hawaii will harass and sometimes beat up on mainland young people, largely Caucasian. Tourists don't know of this culture, but local people do. It isn't discussed openly or written about in newspapers, but it has been part of island practice among some of the young people.
I lived in Hawaii for 28 years and heard both local and mainland folk who had children talk about kill haole day. This was a designated time during the year, usually maintained by the youth at any given school, when local kids targeted mainland children or teens. Adults snickered about the practice and likely reinforced its continuing practice. Haole is the term used mostly for white people from the mainland but it literally means foreign born or outsider.
Hawaii prides itself on its racial balance and harmony, yet the kill haole practice stays hidden most of the time but comes up during times of conflict. In the 1970's the struggle between locals and mainlanders took an extreme response when Hawaii enacted a law requiring all people to live in Hawaii for a year before being able to work in any government job. Private companies subsequently followed state employers, so it was difficult for people arriving from the mainland to find work. The kill haole day practice was in full swing, perhaps a reaction to the incursion of Caucasians that had gone to various parts of the islands and formed a subculture, often of drugs and sex with multiple partners that was part of the culture of the 1970's in Hawaii.
Hawaii voted heavily in favor of Obama, a young man born in Hawaii but who has lived many years in Illinois and whose mother was a haole. Now as it celebrates with the rest of the nation the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States, Hawaii will celebrate it because Obama is that local boy and one of Hawaii's own. But will that stop the kill haole day and practice that has been a part of island culture or will it continue to be a stain on the island's image of racial harmony in paradise? Many locals and mainlanders hope that the practice will stop when Obama takes office and that he might bring a higher level of recognition towards the harmony needed among people to make the nation, and Hawaii, come together to solve the critical problems ahead.
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