Does Faye Hanohano Have A Point?

Brett A. Uprichard

Inflammatory remarks attributed to Rep. Faye Hanohano regarding the artwork in her Capitol office are the talk of the islands.

In news reports, Hanohano, a Native Hawaiian, called the state's Art in Public Places exhibit "ugly" and said she was upset about the absence of Native Hawaiian artists included in the selection of art for her office. She is said to have used slurs to refer to Asian and white artists.

While the Puna Democrat issued apology statements last week, the difficult issue of race and ethnicity in Hawaii remains at the forefront of discussion. Reaction to Hanohano, transmitted widely on local airwaves, print and online, includes these sentiments:

Hanohano is a racist. She's sticking up for native pride. Her anger is justified. She should resign. Hawaiians can't be racist because they were colonized. She should be fired. She apologized, so let's move on.

But has Hanohano raised an important point? That art by Hawaii's indigenous people should be celebrated?

If that was her intent, a Civil Beat analysis suggests, she appears to have had few artists to choose from.

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