T Nation

"Pacific Islander" Separate from Asian American?

Does anyone else find it bizarre that “Pacific Islanders” get casually lumped into the group labeled “Asian Americans” (which in itself contains an amazingly diverse array of ethnicities and cultures)? I’m pretty sure ethnic Hawaiians and Samoans, for instance, have next to nothing in common with Americans of Japanese or Chinese ancestry (who, in turn, have very little in common with each other aside from certain general physical characteristics that differ from those of Europeans). The term “AAPI” seems to serve no purpose other than to give politicians and corporations a way to virtue signal by saying “I stand with the AAPI community!,” when in fact there is no such community; rather, there are communities that are as different from one another as are those of WASPs, Germans, Jews, Irish, Italians, Poles, Greeks, etc. In fact, the term AAPI seems condescending, inasmuch as it trivializes some profound cultural differences. I’m speaking as an Scotch-Irish hillbilly, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but that’s how it seems.

Any mention of the “fill in the blank” community tends to speak to a misunderstanding of how culture operates.

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One of my coworkers is Hawaiian and does not consider herself Asian at all. Nothing wrong with being Asian, she just doesn’t think there’s any connection.

I’ve been seeing the AAPI title lately, but also sometimes see Hawaiians grouped with Native Americans and Alaska Natives. I think those two groups “can” be grouped together (but there’s also literally like 1,000 tribes that can drastically differ from one another in almost every way possible so that can be misleading too) but never really thought of Hawaiians as the same as them either.

Personally, I think it’s “cooler“ to know people’s specific ethnicity (if it ever has to come up). It can be tough for black people (cause, you know…) but hearing that someone is Colombian, Sioux, German, Vietnamese, Samoan, etc. is more interesting than just Latino, white, Asian, etc. I think that stuff is fascinating. @dt79’s always giving me fun tidbits about Asians, haha.


Even “Pacific islander” is too broad by itself. One Pacific nation can have a bunch of islands scattered over hundreds of miles where the people are vastly different and barely relate to each other, let alone other islands hundreds/thousands of miles away. When someone asks where I’m from originally I say I’m Russian, not European/Caucasian. Similarly islanders will tell you the exact island that they’re from, not “oh I’m a Pacific islander.” Broad labels like this are just nonsense.

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And within those individual communities, there are communities. It’s ironic how some Americans will say diversity is our strength while creating labels that dismiss or dilute diversity.

How would this byzantine system classify French rednecks from New Caledonia? Are they Pacific Islanders? They’re French, speak French, are to an extent mixed race and their culture - guns, pickups and cows is closer to rural Texas than metropolitan France…

If someone with barely any ties to hispania can be hispanic I’m gonna guess they’d just call them French. Or maybe cheese eating surrender monkeys.


Well since my sarcastic comment got deleted I’ll say it without sarcasm.

AAPI is a lazy term often used by well meaning liberals who fail to see that the only connection between those groups are general physical characteristics.

This term is then perversely tied into the already perverse notion of “anti-racism”.

BIPOC is another similar term. All very convenient if your politics center around race. Don’t forget to remind everyone that race-based politics is anti-racist!

Very convenient if you believe everyone with a shared culture or ethnicity thinks the same with regard to well, everything. Or maybe it’s a way to tell those individuals how they are supposed to think.

People get annoyed at the MANY types of genders and sexual orientations out there now… But then turn around and also get annoyed when large groups of people are lumped into named categories for convenience sake. And vice versa.

What a fun game of outrage.

Not exactly. It’s the people who get labeled who have an issue with it. I haven’t met a “latino” who calls himself that. I’ve heard Mexican, Colombian, Dominican, Cuban, etc. Unless that person is really an American, you know, the same ones who use Latinx. A word that is almost impossible to pronounce in Spanish. Is it latin equis?

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Thanks for being outraged on their behalf. What a good ally.

It seems like all this shit is a recycled argument. The outrage just changes depending on which side of the issue we fall on.

It isn’t for the sake of convenience that they’re lumped in together, unless you’re talking about the convenience of conveying your ideas about race-based politics.

Why lump them together in the first place? Can you explain why that is helpful to anyone, anywhere?

I’ve not heard any outrage expressed in this thread.

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I’m not outraged, I’m simply respecting their heritages since I know what it’s like to have people like you put my people in some generic pile of otherness.

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Which generic lump of people are you othering me into?


I’m guessing the group who uses words like BIPOC, AAPI, “ally”, and believes these people require special treatment.

And progressives are entirely homogenous in their beliefs and actions? Like all BIPOC, or AAPI people…

Really? Doesn’t she know there is a scant 4,000 miles of open ocean between Hawaii and Japan?

Are you saying you don’t consider yourself Aztec or that there may be varying levels of ritual human sacrifice among your ancestors? Please tell me you at least refer to yourself as a BIPOC. I’m not sure I can be your ally otherwise, and trust me, you need white allies. You’d be screwed without us.

This is why healthy friendships are important, because friends understand that we have interesting and wildly-varying backgrounds that are fun to talk about. If nothing else, gaining a better level of understanding of your friends heritages will result in better racist jokes.

I’ve got a friend who claims to be descended from Hannibal, and may very well be. Guess who has to put up jokes about burning his house to the ground and salting the earth? My Tunisian friend. Because that’s what I’ll do to him on the BJJ mats next time. Salt the fucking earth with his tears like I’m a Roman invasion force.

My Vietnamese buddy is the only non-white guy on his work’s diversity taskforce and we joke about ways to fuck with everyone else. I still think he should demand that they hit a gong whenever he enters the room, just to see if he can get them to agree to do it.

My Polish and European mongrel heritage comes readily-equipped with an extensive bevy of Polack jokes and school shooter digs. As it should. Friends should bust balls, not walk around on pins and needles afraid of imagined harm coming from being offended.

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Nope, the Barcid family went extinct and there’s very little Phoenician DNA left in modern-day Tunisia. If he’s not a Berber but a Maghrebi then it’s very probable that at least some of his ancestors were European slaves. The former president of Tunisia is a descendant of an Italian slave, for example.

Lebanese Christians would be more appropriate for Rome-Phoenicia jokes.