One of my first blog posts here on themicronesian was about Micronesians portrayed as homeless and a burden in Hawaii. There were some questions as to whether all the homeless in Kaka’ako were Micronesians or not. They were and are not.
I received a comment from the post from a Mr David Levin who shared some very interesting information on data collection in surveys of Micronesians:
“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.”
Very well said Mr Levin. The State of Hawaii and the Micronesian community are not well served. There continues to be confusion on our actual impact to the homeless situation in Hawaii.
Who the hell is counting?
The civil beat (great publication) published an article recently that touched on this issue. The issue of data that is missing or inaccurate has been tied to the Micronesian experience for as long as I can remember. How many Micronesians? How many Chuukese? How many Pohnpeians? How many Marshallese? Who the hell is doing the counting? And how are they counting?
Like Mr Levin said in his comments, the American Community Survey does not go into enough detail to accurately represent the Micronesian numbers in the US. It’s like putting a square peg into a round hole. It doesn’t work. Unless of course, you shove that square peg into that round hole with so much force that you create a new shape… a squahole.
It would be nice of the state of Hawaii to collect some accurate data so we can have an accurate story of our people in Hawaii. It’s enough that they have been ridiculed, looked down upon, blamed for circumstances beyond their control, but now we see that there is no real data to support our “impact”. Isn’t it in Hawaii’s best interest to get an accurate count to receive an increased amount of ‘compact impact’ funds?
In case you’re wondering what Father Hezel’s report looked like, I’ve included this link for those with inquiring minds.
Allow me to leave with a thought from a Marshallese woman, Tamera Heine, who works at the RMI consul in Honolulu after reading an article that claimed ‘More than half of Hawaii’s Marshallese community lives in poverty’:
“It just doesn’t make it any better for Marshallese who are already stigmatized,” says Heine, who works at the Marshallese Consul General’s office. “People still have stereotypes about Marshallese not being the best neighbors in Hawaii. It just kind of made it worse.”
So true Ms Heine. Our story is being written or in this case “counted” by others. Let’s get the facts straight – FIRST – then see where we stand.
See you on my next blog or podcast.