Micronesian Story and Stereotypes – Time to change both

A week or so ago while scrolling through my Facebook feed I came upon a video that was probably one of the most ignorant and stereotypical posts against Micronesians that I have read in a while.  It was shared on the closed Facebook group – Micro-forum.  By the look of the comments, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

150 people per month

The video and post were about the homeless camps in Kakaako, Honolulu.  If anyone is familiar with Honolulu, this is pretty much smack dab in the middle of all the pretty stuff in Honolulu.  The lady who is filming the homeless camps is in disbelief that “hundreds and hundreds” of Micronesians have decided to pitch their tents in downtown Honolulu without bathrooms, with their kids and bikes everywhere, while 150 Micronesians are joining the camp every month!

Here is the word for word post:

This is the Micronesian homeless camp in Kakaako where there are no toilets or water…they poop and pee outside…they are coming into Honolulu at about 150 people per month…they have exhausted ALL public housing, services, and medical…isn’t it about time the Federal government gets involved and either send them home or house them…The State of Hawaii cannot financially handle this situation…we residents cannot handle this situation…this is not Pono…

It’s worth noting that the video and post were initially put up on Facebook in 2015.  Three years later on March 23, 2018 this same lady re-posted with the question:

Three years since I did this video…has it gotten better?

The video and her post are wrong on so many levels.  Where does one start? Well, first off, the homeless camps and even the homeless population is not made up of ALL Micronesians.  Shocking to know that according to a 2015 (the year the first video/post were made)article in the Pacific Business News,

Just one-third of individuals at the homeless camp are Compact of Free Association migrants, with the majority two-thirds of Native Hawaiian or Polynesian descent.

“That was new to us,” Waikiki Health Care-a-Van Director Jason Espero said. “We thought it was the other way around.”

Really? Why would they think it was the other way around?

What we have here is a failure to communicate.  What we have here is a story that isn’t true.

So what is the true story? Let’s get the help of an infographic from the Hawai’i  Applessed Center for Law and Economic Justice:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smashing stereotypes

Amazing how these stereotypes keep getting smashed and the true story emerges.  But wait, let me tell you another true story about Micronesians.  Did you know that every year the Federal Government pays the state of Hawaii millions of dollars for the impact that we, Micronesians, have on Hawaii?

What? I thought the US Federal Government has done nothing about this!

You can read the full article here, but I’ve also provided a little preview below:

In 2003, the U.S. Congress allocated $30 million annually to Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa to assist in defraying costs due to increased demands placed on health, educational, social, or public sector services, or infrastructure related to such services due to Compact Impact.  Compact Impact funds and the apportionment to each affected jurisdiction are calculated using a ratio allocation based on a 2013 U.S. Census Bureau enumeration that put the number of Compact migrants in Hawaii at 14,700 and the allocation for the state at $12.8 million. The U.S. Census Bureau will be conducting a new enumeration, to update the numbers used in the allocation of Compact Impact funding, expected to be completed at the end of this year.

$12.8 million, last I checked, is not chump change, especially when you consider that Micronesians DO NOT make up the majority of the homeless in Kakaako or in the state of Hawaii.  So much for exhausting “ALL public housing, services and medical”.  

So here emerges another story, backed up by facts.  It is the story I hope we all tell each other (because it’s true).

We are in the US legally and with good cause.  The Compact of Free Association with America says we can be there.  The doors have been opened.  We are obviously the new kids on the block when it comes to immigrants to America.  That’s ok for now.  In time, they’ll get used to us.

Conclusion

In the meantime, let’s tell our story to anyone who wants to listen.  Live our lives like we are a part of the community.  Contribute, communicate and cooperate. We’re getting better.  Now that’s a good story.

Podcast: Listen to this blog post on my podcast. Micronesian podcast

Author: patpedrus

I am here, you are there, we are one.

6 thoughts on “Micronesian Story and Stereotypes – Time to change both”

  1. A couple of comments:
    The Compact requires an Impact statement from OIA at no more than 5 year intervals — which OIA interprets as exactly 5 years. The distribution of $30 million to CNMI, Guam, Hawaii and American Samoa is adjusted after each survey. Unlike in CNMI and Guam, the Census Bureau does not do a survey in Hawaii but uses the American Community Survey to get an estimate. If you look at recent results of that survey you will find that while counts and characteristics of Marshallese are good, and the count of Palauans is ok, the numbers for FSM are very low, mainly because FSMers report as members of their group — Chuukese, Pohnpeians, etc., and so are not large enough to be included, or at least in the published results. And, this survey is not the best method of obtaining good information on Micronesians — the 2012 survey that Father Hezel initiated was the proper way to obtain the data — a questionnaire specific to the Micronesian circumstances — both positive and negative impact — and with all Micronesian enumerators to assist in obtaining the highest quality data. The State of Hawaii and the Micronesian community are not completely well served by this type of survey.
    The 2012 survey did not include homeless, only Micronesians in housing units. But a survey of homeless Micronesians could be easily facilitated — using a questionnaire appropriate to the task, and with sympathetic, Micronesian enumerators. A small amount of funding would probably be needed.

    1. Thank you for your comments Mr. Levin. We do tend to identify as Chuukese or Pohnpeian instead of FSM first. A questionnaire addressing that would help.
      I would be very interested to see a survey like that to see how we are truly represented in Hawaii’s homeless hassle.

  2. Patrick,
    Hope you are doing well. We have formed a national advocacy network and are currently working with Mike Levin on an updated national data collection project for COFA migrants in the US. We hope to have this major project completed by the end of this year, depending on our success in requesting funding from various sources. We need to all work together, all of the COFA citizens and we need to work on gaining the support and participation throughout all the States and communities. As we have seen, the news only reports the negative stories, the times are changing and rules and regulations are being put in place that could potentially create major issues for our people in the US. If we don’t unite now and support each other in these types of efforts we will find it very difficult to make any changes for the better, especially at times like this where it seems like the mentality is to look out for #1 here in the US. We would appreciate if you could help us with your website and blog to reach out to more and more COFA citizens.
    Thank you.

    1. Mike, good to hear from you. Doing well here. I am happy to help out in any way that I can. Thanks for what you’re doing and thanks to Mr. Levin for his help. It’s good to hear that this type of work is going on for our people.
      Do you have a website for your organization or any information that can be shared? Would be happy to share your progress with as many people as I can.

      1. We do not have a website yet, it’s currently “under construction” as they would say in the older days of the internet. We do have a facebook group page called “COFA-CLAN (Community Leadership & Advocacy Network)” On that page we have a fact sheet of the upcoming data collection project that could be shared. I am not that tech savvy, did not see an option to include an attachment on here. Thank you for what you are doing with this blog and the podcasts. It’s good to hear a personal and educated perspective of what is going on rather than what is happening on Micsem most of the time.

        1. Thanks Mike. I’ll take a look at the FB page. I’m very happy to share and distribute in any way I can. You’re doing God’s work Mike… I’m glad to help.

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