FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Japanese American Citizens League – Honolulu Chapter Condemns Race Baiting from Djou Campaign
Honolulu – The Honolulu Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) strongly objects to a statement made by Charles Djou’s congressional campaign in an advertisement published in the Star Advertiser on November 2, 2014, entitled ‘Charles Djou’s 30 Day Action Plan’ wherein he states that one action he would take is to “Meet with the Micronesian government to address the rising homeless population in Hawai’i.”
Mr. Djou’s proposed action infers an unfounded, blatantly prejudiced, and highly simplistic assumption that members of the Micronesian community are disproportionately responsible for, or are themselves homeless.
“At a time when resources and State and County leaders are addressing an issue [homelessness] that crosses ethnic boundaries, we are dismayed that Mr. Djou would single out an entire ethnic community for the cause of such a multi-faceted issue.”
The Micronesians who live in Hawaii do so in part because of the harms the United States Government caused when the islands were targeted with nuclear testing in 1947 and 1958. Some islands were completely decimated. Many of those who survived were left with ongoing health issues caused by the nuclear fallout. To start the redress process, Congress created the Compact of Free Association allowing Micronesians to travel to and from the United States freely.
Dina Shek, an attorney and Legal Director of the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawaii, explained that she has been disappointed by the misrepresentations and misunderstanding of the Micronesian community here in Hawaii. “Our leaders need to be fully apprised of the issues facing Hawaii and understand that Micronesians are our neighbors, friends, students, employers, employees and they are an integral part of our community. They are not the other but they are 'ourselves.'"
Shek went on to state, “I'm fortunate to know many Micronesians as clients, colleagues, fellow professionals (lawyers, doctors, educators) and close friends; they are an integral part of our diverse and vibrant community. Yet racism in all its manifestations--from political scapegoating to racist 'jokes' to civil rights violations--remains a huge barrier for jobs, housing, education, healthcare, and in daily life. Addressing these racial barriers and political realities facing the Micronesian community will make us a more just and unified society. Scapegoating our newest immigrant population only further divides us.”
The JACL Honolulu created an educational film entitled “We Hold These Truths” that featured members of different Micronesian communities, as well as civil rights advocates, to share the story of discrimination and perseverance facing that community. It has subsequently been used by various organizations as a way to better understand and address the overt and indirect racism within our own communities. The video may be found here: http://youtu.be/HHu-hUsahBM.
JACL Honolulu Chapter urges Mr. Djou, and all political candidates, to condemn the use of racist or prejudicial tactics in their campaigns – and ultimately in their policymaking and public lives.
JACL-Honolulu has a long history of protecting and advocating for the rights of those who have been discriminated against – we urge the Djou campaign to apologize to the Micronesian communities and commit to working broadly to address homelessness affecting Hawaii.
JACL is the nation’s oldest and largest Asian Pacific American civil rights organization with over 20,000 members. Locally our organization has consistently supported efforts to provide equal rights to all citizens of this state and to ensure that our community looks beyond racial stereotypes fostering a community that cares for and respects all of its citizens.