People Watching In Honolulu

Posted: August 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m here sitting on a stoop in a shopping center in Honolulu just watching all the people walk by… Eminem’s new album is playing on my headphones, there’s a cool breeze bowing through the crowd and I’m about to start filming a new movie tomorrow.

Hawaii is a magical place… for most people its magical because its a tropical paradise, or the amazing surf… but for me its amazing because as an Asian-American, it may be one of the only places in America where I’m not a minority. If you have never been to Hawaii, or even if you have, you have to realize how amazing that is.

I don’t know when you realize your race, for me it was around 6th grade, you have that first awareness that you may not be quite the same as your other classmates. It’s not a good thing or bad thing, its just a moment most minorities go through growing up in America. And that awareness somehow lingers in the back of your mind. I don’t think it rules your motivations, at least it never ruled mine, but its there and it influences your perspective on the world. And in my industry, your constantly reminded of race and ethnicity with every audition you go on… that’s the world of casting in Hollywood.

Most days you don’t even think about… you just keep grinding, keep moving closer to success. But getting off the plane and walking around here for the last few days, for a moment you realize, the guy who checked you into your hotel and the girl you just bought your Starbucks from and all these thousands of people walking around, you realize that they all kind of look like you. It’s crazy to realize that this is a whole island where there are more Asian/Pacific Islanders then there are white people.

It’s kind of a weird awareness to know your in a place where your the majority and for once they are the minority.

It’s a magical place… I know there are a lot of problems here, like everywhere else, and some very serious problems that are very unique to Hawaii. Talking to locals, you get to know fast that its not quite paradise for everyone out here. But its a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by my people… no matter where your family’s from originally, if your Asian or Pacific Islanders in America… Hawaii is like your second homeland… and I’m honored to be here to tell a story about this place, one made by the locals that’s going to show a side of Waikiki that most Americans know nothing about, the side that has nothing to do with the surf and hula girls… the other side of this paradise.

But while I’m here, I’m going to enjoy the Magic of Hawaii…

  1. Thomas says:

    Ah, it sounds fantastic. I’ve been in Chicago for the weekend, and it’s crazy how shocking it is to see almost no one of color here. I guess California’s had me spoiled.

    • cDonnaF says:

      Wow, really, Thomas? According to the last Census, the city of Chicago is more than half non-Caucasian. The suburbs–it depends on which one. Some are very diverse, some (like where I live) not at all. I guess it depends on where you go, then.

  2. Cory says:

    I was born in Honolulu but moved when I was young. I know how you feel, in Albuquerque the percentage of black people is 3% and Asians is even less than that.

  3. NotoriousMLE says:

    I totally get this post. I’m hapa so Hawai’i was the first and only place where I’ve ever been surrounded by so many people like me. I’m so used to being “slightly different” that it was almost unsettling for me to see myself reflected everywhere.

  4. CaitieCat says:

    I got a rare chance, as a white person, to experience the opposite of this, when I visited Thailand some years ago. I made a point of staying in a hotel which didn’t cater to foreigners particularly, stayed away from the tourist areas. At one point, I walked down the Ramkhamkhaeng Road, and literally could not see anyone else, anywhere, who looked like me.

    Now, it’s not the same, it really isn’t. I could “fix” the problem of being the only person who looked like me simply by staying in the tourist areas, and the laws in Thailand protect foreigners much more than Thai people, so it was an absurdly safe version of the isolation feeling. And I’ve spent my whole life as a majority, first in the UK, and then here in Canada, so I’ve had the ongoing privilege of always having everything look like me – people in the media, politics, the professions, the only way for me to feel isolated is to intentionally go somewhere other than my home, and I have to go a long, long way to make it happen.

    So I’m really not trying to say they’re the same. But just for those few hours,and the rarity of encountering other white people in my mostly-Thai hotel, I got some vague approximation of what it feels like to be the minority. It really helped solidify my anti-racist beliefs.

    Another great post, Dante, thanks. šŸ™‚

  5. Tomi says:

    Ey Dante, I met you at the EWP hip hop performance =] I was being kind of shy.. Anyways, yeah good post, Hawaii is my favorite place to be besides home

  6. Louis Perez says:

    I would like to visit Hawaii someday.I look forward to the film. Any idea on when it will be released?

  7. Dammit. Quit making me write. I should not be up this late.

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