Racism within academia

My recent experiences with racism within academia has significantly grown my appreciation for Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask, the legendary Hawaiian professor at the University of Hawaii who did so much to advance Hawaiian rights, as well as the rights of indigenous peoples all over the world, such as Native Americans and Ryukyu / Okinawans. Trask particularly had a huge impact on improving the rights of indigenous peoples within academia. Of course, she was attacked mercilessly by many critics at the time who called her “extreme.” Actually though, looking back on the things she said, they no longer seem particularly extreme, but seem rather normal or even mild compared to some of the rhetoric we hear today. This is in large part due to the efforts of Dr. Trask, who laid the foundation for other indigenous scholars to build off of.

Here’s a video of Dr. Trask giving a speech at the University of Hawaii regarding racism within academia. It’s around three decades old, and I was just a very small keiki at the time. But it provides a glimpse of the incredible amount of racism and prejudice that Dr. Trask had to go through at the University of Hawaii.

Today the University of Hawaii is still far from perfect, as the recent controversy surrounding Mauna Kea and the Thirty Meter Telescope suggests. But it has come an awful long way in the last several decades, thanks to Dr. Trask and others who worked so hard for so long.


National Education Association publishes articles about Hawaiian Kingdom, independence

Three fascinating articles written by Dr. Keanu Sai and published by the National Education Association talking about the Hawaiian Kingdom and Hawaii’s independence:


The Impact of the U.S. Occupation on the Hawaiian People


The U.S. Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom


The Illegal Overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government

Oscar Gil, PhD Student, calls U.S. take over of Hawaiians, Native Americans, “blessing beyond imagination”

Oscar Gil, a Ph.D. in History student at Liberty University, has attempted to discredit Hawaiian independence studies in a class discussion board post on November 8, 2019 in which he used the terms “nonsense” and “sedition” to describe Hawaiian independence issues. He also stated that “the United States has given rights, protection, and a blessing beyond imagination not only to those ingenious peoples there but also to the rest of the United States that the rest of the world can only dream about.”

The comments came in response to this video discussing Hawaiian Studies:




Gil’s full comments can be found in the screenshot below:

Screen Shot 2019-11-08 at 10.50.48 PM
Discussion board post written by Oscar Gil, Ph.D. in History student at Liberty University, in response to a video by Rob Kajiwara.

Gil’s comments are problematic and inaccurate for numerous reasons which are immediately obvious to almost anyone familiar with Hawaiian issues. I will briefly explain only a few of them here.

Gil, who is neither Hawaiian nor Native American, attempts to speak on behalf of Hawaiians and Native Americans by calling their take over by the United States as a “blessing beyond imagination,” a statement which the majority of Hawaiians and Native Americans would find deeply offensive. It is well-known that the United States committed genocide against millions of Native Americans. What is less well-known are the numerous human rights violations against Hawaiians. Hawaiians have been working since 1893 to regain their de facto independence.

Gil contradicts the claims of the two scholars mentioned in the video, Dr. Keanu Sai and Dr. Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻopu, both of whom teach in the University of Hawaii system and have been cited and published in peer-reviewed articles and books. Gil himself, though, cites no sources to back up any of his claims.

The issue of Hawaii’s independence is not based on indigenous rights, but on international laws pertaining to sovereignty. This is explained in detail in works by Dr. Keanu Sai, H.E. Leon Siu, and numerous others. Please see Basis for the Restoration of the Hawaiian Kingdom for more information.

Copy and pasted from www.HawaiianKingdom.net:

“…secession is illegal under United States law. Hawaii does not need to secede from the U.S., since it was never legally part of the U.S. to begin with. Rather, the U.S. needs to de-occupy the Hawaiian Islands, which it has been illegally occupying with no treaty of annexation since 1898.

“Hawaii’s situation is unique, meaning that the states of the United States cannot use Hawaii’s independence as a model for secession. Out of the 49 States of America, only Alaska can make a similar (though slightly different) claim of never having been legally acquired by the U.S. “

Gil’s perpetuating of false information is harmful. Ph.D. students should be held to a much higher standard for accuracy, as they are influential members of society. For a Ph.D. in History student to use such flawed arguments that are detrimental to oppressed and marginalized people groups is of great concern.

Benchmarking History Programs: University of Hawaii

Robert Kajiwara is a PhD in History student at Liberty University. He has an MA in History from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and a BA in History, Asia/Pacific focus, from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. www.RobKajiwara.com.

This article was written in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the PhD in History at Liberty University.

Benchmarking History Programs:

The University of Hawaii at Manoa v. UCLA

This article will provide a brief overview of the benchmarks and educational practices of the history department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) as well as a comparative analysis with its cross-ocean rival, UCLA. The purpose of this short analysis is to gain better insight into history education at the university level, and UHM, being the only R1 university in the South Pacific Ocean, provides an interesting model to evaluate how effective universities are at teaching non-Western histories, which is something that the American Historical Society has stated should be improved.1 UCLA consistently ranks as one of the top universities in the world, while the University of Hawaii history department prides itself on being strong in the teaching of Asian and Pacific Island histories, in addition to American and European history.2

The Department of History at UHM uses as its motto the Hawaiian saying, I ka wa ma mua, ka wa ma hope; “The future is guided by the past.” The department offers a BA in History, with focuses in American, European, Asia/Pacific, and Comparative/World history, respectively. Regardless of ones chosen focus, a variety of history courses for each area are required for a major. At the undergraduate level there are four Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) that the department sets: 1) Students can explain historical change and continuity, 2) Students can write clear expository prose and orally present their ideas according to disciplinary conventions, 3) Students can identify, interpret and evaluate primary sources and other relevant information, 4) Students can identify the main historiographical issues in a specific area of concentration.3 The SLOs are scheduled in such a way as to allow an introduction to non-majors, some practice to minors, and mastery to majors. A historiography as well as a thesis course are required for majors.

While the department, as well as the university as a whole, has made some progress in moving away from a Western-dominated focus of study in its programs, there remains more to be desired. The majority of the faculty in the history department are not Hawaiian, and do not have local ties to the Hawaiian Islands. An introductory Hawaiian Studies course is required for all degrees offered in the UH system, though it should be noted that this course is offered not through the history department, but through the School of Hawaiian Knowledge, a separate school that was formed specifically to advance the teaching of Hawaiian issues as a result of decades of efforts by Hawaiian educators and community leaders.

The School of Hawaiian Knowledge remains something of a separate entity of the University of Hawaii in spirit. The physical location of the School is somewhat removed from the main campus of the University, several blocks away – a reminder that the School was a distant afterthought for the University. Even more importantly, the values of the University sometimes conflict with the values of the School, such as in the case of the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea, a move which the School of Hawaiian Knowledge, as well as Hawaiians in general, have condemned. The leaders of the University of Hawaii, including President David Lassner, claim to support Hawaiian rights and issues, yet are the chief proponents of the TMT project and have drawn intense criticism from the Hawaiian community at large, including from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. This notable discrepancy between what the University claims its values are, versus what they are in practice, is as stark as the contrast between the University administration and the School of Hawaiian Knowledge.

UCLA requires a similar variety of history courses for its majors compared with UH, requiring two American history courses, two European history courses, and two non-Western history courses. UCLA offers a larger variety of courses than UHM, as well as course-field emphasis in the fields of Atlantic history (between the Americas, Europe, and Africa), and Women, Men, and Sexual history. In terms of Asian histories, UCLA is roughly on-par with UHM. Regarding overall course diversity, the undergraduate history program at UCLA is comparable to that of UHM, which is to say it has some amount of non-Western course offerings, though is still heavily focused on European and U.S. histories. The principle difference is that UHM is based in the Pacific, while UCLA is based in California. UHM should be expected to have a wider array of Asia and Pacific histories due to its geographical location, as well as due to the majority-Asian population of its region.

Though UCLA is by far the larger, more reputable and well-known university, when it comes to Pacific Island studies, UHM offers more specialization at the undergraduate level. Nevertheless UHM has a long way to go before it can truly claim to be a university that represents the people of the Hawaiian Islands and Hawaiian issues. It is necessary for UHM to hire more faculty and administrators who understand Hawaiian issues in order for the institution to live up to its claims and ideals.


American Historical Society. “History in the Colleges.” Retrieved 22 October 2019 from:


Lukacs, John. The Future of History. Yale University Press. 2011.

UCLA College of Social Sciences History. Retrieved 22 October 2019 from: https://history.ucla.edu/academics/undergraduate

University of Hawaii at Manoa Department of History.

“Home Page.” Retrieved 22 October 2019 from: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/history/.

“Undergraduate SLO’s.” 28 September 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2019 from:

2University of Hawaii at Manoa Department of History. “Home Page.” Retrieved 22 October 2019 from: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/history/.

3University of Hawaii at Manoa Department of History. 28 September 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2019 from: