The Intersectionality of Conflicts in Micronesia and Hawaii: Through My Eyes

Supplementary Files

Ed Yeichy Spring Issue 2024


Born to two aliens, who each suppose that we do not belong, I roamed the seemingly unfamiliar landscapes of Hawaiʻi– desperately searching for a place and a voice. I only ask for one thing: accept me as I am, I certainly do come in peace. Born in Hawaiʻi and raised by an alienated family, I was exposed to a number of unique and distinct cultures: Samoans and Tongans performed their own versions of the Haka, Filipinos served their popular chicken adobo dish, and Hawaiians gathered around the lūʻau. Despite being exposed to the unique cultures of Samoans, Tongans, Filipinos, and Hawaiians, I struggled to find a sense of belonging. I felt as though my voice and my culture were not fit to the local kine way of Hawaiʻi. Enveloped by the rich traditions of the islands, I found myself in a paradoxical position– I was surrounded by the vibrant tapestry of Oceanic cultures, yet I felt like an outsider, a mere observer amidst the diversity. To many, I was labeled as a cockroach, a derogatory term used to disparage Micronesians due to their perceived rapid population growth in Hawaiʻi. Micronesians, since migrating to Hawaiʻi starting in the late 1980s, are considered to be a fairly new ethnic group. For that reason, we are often misidentified and tossed into other Pacific islander categories. Worst of all, we are often harassed for being too different. This discrimination and harassment only grew worse as time went on, which amplified the already difficult challenge of finding a place and a voice in Hawaiʻi. As a result, I grew up not only as a young child dealing with challenges, but also as a young indigenous youth desperately seeking for acceptance amidst the tumultuous waves of cultural diversity in Hawaiʻi.

Sylvia Elias, an advocate for Micronesians from the island of Pohnpei, explored the geographical, physical, and historical context of Micronesia in Chapter 12 of their book titled Global Indigenous Youth: Through Their Eyes. Her narrative delved into the common values, beliefs, and practices shared across the Micronesia region and touched on aspects of gender roles, economic disparity, social pressures, resilience to trauma, the connection with nature, and a deep-rooted spiritual belief system1. The narrative and insights gained from Elias’ chapter point to the urgent need for greater cultural understanding and inclusion in multicultural societies. For indigenous youths, especially those in diasporic communities like Micronesians in Hawaiʻi, these challenges are multifaceted and involve not just cultural preservation but also the struggle against discrimination and for societal acceptance. To shed a more interpretive light on this issue, I will build off of Elias’ narrative and connect the themes of her text to my own experiences as a Chuukese boy that grew up in Hawaiʻi.