Racism is a problem in most places where populations become mixed. I would agree with Brettd when he addresses the issue of class struggle as perhaps being misidentified as racism. The people who spend the money have more power and acceptance than those who provide for their needs. This isn't right, but it is the trend.
I think the isolation of Hawaii is the single largest contributing factor to most of the "complaints" about life on the island. It is disconnected from everything and everyone, not just the continental United States, but the rest of the world. Those bringing in news from the outside are mostly tourists who come in expecting to be pampered and waited on, then they leave.
My sister and brother (who are both stationed there in the military) agree with the tension between locals and those in the military. It sounds like there is a lot of resentment over who actually "owns" the island, including its culture.
It is a diverse population and it is geographically segregated by island chains that are not close to each other. In that environment, a lot of misunderstanding and misconception can occur, between Caucasian residents and the native population, Asian-Americans of many stripes and other Pacific islanders.
I also got the sense there was some class conflict going on there, given the wealth that tourists bring and display in the islands while the native population makes up a large percentage of the service industry that caters to them. So perhaps on some level class struggle is seen as racism when it is not actually so.
Having lived in Hawaii, I would argue that racism is not a big problem there. If you have to argue that it is, though, there are a few reasons you could put forward:
- White people probably (I can't say personally since I'm not white) feel more racially isolated in Hawaii since the majority of the population is not white. Depending on where they go, they may feel overt racism (as they would in a poor African-American area of most mainland cities.
- There are more racial groups together in one place than in most other states. There are all sorts of Asians, Pacific Islanders of various sorts, and "native" whites and blacks as well as those from the military bases.
- Tourism and the military bases brings tension between "locals" and outsiders. This may seem like racism to some.
The *actual* reason why there is racism against caucasians or "haoles" in Hawaii dates back to the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom. The Queen at the time, Lili'uokalani was illegally overthrown and taken over by the US navy in order to use Hawaii as a rest stop during World War II. Also the missionaries, which were white, came to Hawaii and forced Hawaiians to assimilate to the Western culture, causing the Hawaiian culture to slowly disappear. Captain Cook, the man who discovered Hawaii, introduced plagues and diseases to the Hawaiian people, which caused the near extinction of the entire Hawaiian population.
During the plantation times, the "luna" or people in charge, were always caucasian, while the plantation workers were compiled of asians and Hawaiians.
America has done this to pretty much all Natives, like the Native Americans for example, except this illegal overthrow is not in the textbooks of America.
Also the military people who are stationed in Hawaii are very rude.
This racism is *not* a misunderstanding and there is no class conflict. It is not about the money, it is about the attitude these caucasians bring with them. The expected pampering is exactly the "natives" dislike tourists. It is not the job of the people of Hawaii to "pamper" them.