Which of These Things Is Not Like the Other: Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders Are Not Asian Americans, and All Pacific Islanders Are Not Hawaiian
- American Quarterly
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 67, Number 3, September 2015
- pp. 727-747
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The combining and often conflating of the existence and issues of two very different pan-national and pan-ethnic categories—”Asian American” and “Pacific Islander”—through the appellations Asian/Pacific Islander, API, Asian Pacific American, APA, AAPI, and so forth, in US public policy, mass media, and social activism circles has been both vexed and contested by Hawaiian activists for more than fifty years. Beyond the data distortion that affects all Pacific Islanders in the United States through the use of this term, its use also functions to make conceptually invisible the specificity of Hawaiian transnational indigenous alliances, a settler colonial analysis of Hawai’i where Asians are a substantial part of the settler population, and ongoing movements for Hawaiian sovereignty. This essay explores the historical origins of this conflation, the persistence of the use of these combination terms by Asian Americans and other non–Pacific Islanders, and key consequences of this that continue to be resisted by Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in the United States.