Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
What is privilege?
"Privilege" refers to certain social advantages, benefits, or degrees of prestige and respect that an individual has by virtue of belonging to certain social identity groups. Within American and other Western societies, these privileged social identities—of people who have historically occupied positions of dominance over others—include whites, males, heterosexuals, Christians, and the wealthy, among others.
In Hawaiʻi, certain ethnic groups that are considered minorities on the North American continent, including Japanese-Americans and Chinese-Americans, can be considered a privileged social identity group. Learn more about privilege in the Hawai'i context with the following resources.
Ethnicity and Inequality in Hawaiʻi by
Publication Date: 2008
Challenging the dominant view of Hawaiʻi as a melting pot paradise a place of ethnic tolerance and equality Jonathan Okamura examines how ethnic inequality is structured and maintained in island society. He finds that ethnicity, not race or class, signifies difference for Hawaii's people and therefore structures their social relations. In Hawaiʻi, residents attribute greater social significance to the presumed cultural differences between ethnicities than to more obvious physical differences, such as skin color. According to Okamura, ethnicity regulates disparities in access to resources, rewards, and privileges among ethnic groups, as he demonstrates in his analysis of socioeconomic and educational inequalities in the state. He shows that socially and economically dominant ethnic groups Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and Whites have stigmatized and subjugated the islands other ethnic groups especially Native Hawaiians, Filipino Americans, and Samoans. He demonstrates how ethnic stereotypes have been deployed against ethnic minorities and how these groups have contested their subordinate political and economic status by articulating new identities for themselves.
Asian Settler Colonialism by
Publication Date: 2008
Asian Settler Colonialism is a groundbreaking collection that examines the roles of Asians as settlers in Hawaiʻi. Contributors from various fields and disciplines investigate aspects of Asian settler colonialism to illustrate its diverse operations and impact on Native Hawaiians. Essays range from analyses of Japanese, Korean, and Filipino settlement to accounts of Asian settler practices in the legislature, the prison industrial complex, and the U.S. military to critiques of Asian settlers' claims to Hawaiʻi in literature and the visual arts.
What is allyship?
Allyship is the lifelong process in which people with privilege and power work to develop empathy towards a marginalized group's challenges or issues. The goal of allyship is to create a culture in which the marginalized group feels valued, supported, and heard. Since everyone holds systemic power in some areas and lacks it in others, everyone has areas in which they can practice allyship.
"[As a white person,] I’ve described my journey as an antiracist as I’m a poisonous snake — not inherently bad, but I carry a poison that can kill, and I need to do everything in my power every day not to bite people of color, and I need to, just like a snake, shed my skin, not that I can get rid of my white skin but shed the embedded white supremacy that lives with me and in my community. And that’s not easy work. It means changing everything about what we’ve always known."
--Molly Sweeney, organizing director at 482 Forward, an education organizing network in Detroit
A Few Do's and Don'ts
In a nutshell: nānā ka maka, hoʻolohe ka pepeiao, paʻa ka waha
- Do be open to listening
- Do be aware of your implicit biases
- Do your research to learn more about the history of the struggle in which you are participating
- Do the inner work to figure out a way to acknowledge how you participate in oppressive systems
- Do the outer work and figure out how to change the oppressive systems
- Do amplify (online and when physically present) the voices of those without your privilege
- Do learn how to listen and accept criticism with grace, even if it’s uncomfortable
- Do not expect to be taught or shown. Take it upon yourself to use the tools around you to learn and answer your questions
- Do not participate for the gold medal in the “Oppression Olympics” (you don’t need to compare how your struggle is just as bad)
- Do not behave as though you know best
- Do not take credit for the labor of those who are marginalized and did the work before you stepped into the picture
- Do not assume that every member of an underinvested group feels oppressed
From the Guide to Allyship
View this post on Instagram
Everyone in Hawaiʻi, with our varying historical positions, can do more to educate ourselves at this moment—ourselves included. We are grateful for our conscious readers who challenge us to always think more deeply. Last week we reposted a photo of a local police officer and a Black boy smiling together without critically examining its message and implications; this week, we recommit to doing better. Turning to Hawaiian knowledge, this Kānaka resource, from Kahala Johnson, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Ph.D. student with a focus in Indigenous Relations, Alternative Futures and Political Theory, can be a step for all to healing and action. “Get plenty of resources out there for haole to ally with Black folks,” Johnson says of this kāhea, which guides Hawaiians through understanding how to learn from being called out, misapplying Kapu Aloha, and the need to support the Black Lives Matter movement using moʻolelo and lāʻau
. “Get more we gotta talk about,” kākou/mākou/we says, “but this is an intro.” With this post, we’ll also take a pause on social media today to allow our team to further educate themselves—read, watch, listen, then listen again—and engage with their communities on how to interrogate systemic inequalities, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and how policing policies brutalize Black people on the U.S. continent and native and indigenous communities in our own home. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
Learning About Activism
Rules for Revolutionaries by
Publication Date: 2016
Lessons from the groundbreaking grassroots campaign that helped launch a new political revolution Rules for Revolutionaries is a bold challenge to the political establishment and the "rules" that govern campaign strategy. It tells the story of a breakthrough experiment conducted on the fringes of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign: A technology-driven team empowered volunteers to build and manage the infrastructure to make seventy-five million calls, launch eight million text messages, and hold more than one-hundred thousand public meetings--in an effort to put Bernie Sanders's insurgent campaign over the top. Bond and Exley, digital iconoclasts who have been reshaping the way politics is practiced in America for two decades, have identified twenty-two rules of "Big Organizing" that can be used to drive social change movements of any kind. And they tell the inside story of one of the most amazing grassroots political campaigns ever run.
Next American Revolution by
Publication Date: 2012
A world dominated by America and driven by cheap oil, easy credit, and conspicuous consumption is unraveling before our eyes. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis political, economical, and environmental and shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities. A vibrant, inspirational force, Boggs has participated in all of the twentieth century s major social movements for civil rights, women s rights, workers rights, and more. She draws from seven decades of activist experience, and a rigorous commitment to critical thinking, to redefine "revolution" for our times. From her home in Detroit, she reveals how hope and creativity are overcoming despair and decay within the most devastated urban communities. Her book is a manifesto for creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that will collectively constitute the next American Revolution."
Guide to Being an Anti-Racism Activist
"Do you feel overwhelmed by the destructive power of racism, but unsure of what to do about it? The good news is, while the scope of racism in the U.S. might be vast, progress is possible. Step-by-step and piece-by-piece, we can work to end racism, but to begin this work, we must truly understand what racism is." -from Website
Bystander Intervention Training
"In response to the rise in Anti-Asian/American and xenophobic harassment, we at Hollaback! partnered with Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC to adapt our free bystander intervention training as well as offering a de-escalation training to meet this moment." -from website
How to Stay as Safe as Possible While You Protest
"Protesting can come with varying risks, depending on the situation. It’s important to know how to stay safe at any protest, but the stakes are especially high at a moment when protestors are at risk both from police violence and from COVID-19. And while there are certain things you can do to try to mitigate those risks, unfortunately even protesting peacefully in these situations is not a guarantee of safety—particularly for Black protesters. As we’ve seen in recent days, numerous protests across the country have been met with militarized and violent police responses, including the use of tear gas and rubber bullets, and charging toward the crowd on horseback or in a patrol vehicle. This is not meant to deter you from protesting but to make you mindful of steps you can take to try to protect yourself while exercising your rights." - from Website
Know Your Rights: Protesters’ Rights
The First Amendment protects your right to assemble and express your views through protest. However, police and other government officials are allowed to place certain narrow restrictions on the exercise of speech rights. Make sure you’re prepared by brushing up on your rights before heading out into the streets.
Other Ways You Can Help
Documenting the Now
"Documenting the Now responds to the public's use of social media for chronicling historically significant events as well as demand from scholars, students, and archivists, among others, seeking a user-friendly means of collecting and preserving this type of digital content. Documenting the Now has a strong commitment to prioritizing ethical practices when working with social media content, especially in terms of collection and long-term preservation. This commitment extends to Twitter's notion of honoring user intent and the rights of content creators." - From website.
- Donate to bail funds or mutual aid groups.
- Join a mutual aid group if you can't donate to one.
- Remotely provide protestors with protection against COVID-19 and tear gas.
- Read about systemic racism, privilege, prison and police abolition, and the history of oppression against Black people in this country.
- Talk to your racist family members about what's going on and hold them accountable for their views.
- Call or text your elected officials.
Windward Community College Library • 45-720 Keaʻahala Rd. • Kāneʻohe, HI 96744
Content: Windward Community College Library