Hawaiian Stereotypes Essay

1306 words - 5 pages

The Hawaiian culture is both diverse and unique, with its own language, traditions, and beliefs. Despite these multi-faceted characteristics, certain broad stereotypes about the culture persist in the non-Hawaiian population. My paper will explore where race, prejudice and cultural stereotypes come from and how both Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian cultures reinforce these stereotypes.
According to Dictionary.com a stereotype is something conforming to a fixed or general pattern, especially an often oversimplified or biased mental picture held to characterize the typical individual of a group (dictionary.com).
The term “stereotype” originally referred to a stamp used in the printing industry to make multiple copies from one single block. The first one to adopt this notion, to describe the way society categorized people, was social psychologist Walter Lippmann in 1922, in his book on media democracy, Public Opinion. He described the term as “the picture (of the world) that a person has in his/her head”. He was convinced that a picture it is definite, and reduces the world to simple characteristics which are represented as permanent by nature (Lippmann, 1997 [1922], p. 233).
Hawaii is a top vacation destination by many tourists all over the world. When Hawaii comes to mind many people and different cultures imagine sandy beaches, warm, blue waters, lush green backdrops, Hula dancers in grass skirts with flowers in their hair and leis around their necks. These visual representations are iconic symbols of Hawaii and of what many have come to define as Hawaiian. These images and ideas painted by the visitor industry most often take place at the expense of the Hawaiians historic culture. These stereotypes conjured up by the tourist industry promoted an artificial cultural image that in reality disregarded the truth. These stereotypes played a major role in destroying ancient burial grounds, archaeological historic sites and sacred places. I can remember while living in Hawaii many times when a burial ground or sacred site was destroyed or moved to make way for the development of a new highway or resort. Many of my relatives who are Native Hawaiians have told me stories of how cultural and historic sites, hundred in number, have been bulldozed to make way for hotel and golf course development. Many others have been turned into tourist attractions and are desecrated in their use and misuse. These include heiau (burial grounds) or ancient temples, house sites, fishing shrines, ceremonial platforms and agricultural sites.
All of these acts take place at the expense and pain of Native Hawaiians who are struggling to survive. Here you have multimillion dollar revenue and none of that money is going to support and perpetuate the culture or recover of the language and heritage of Native Hawaiians. This reminds me of many stories we have covered during class of where cultures have been oppressed in order for other cultures to succeed. Most Hawaiians have...

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