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:
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.
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