February 3, 2007

Barack Obama's Hawaiian upbringing

As I mentioned last night, another indication of how much more obsessed white Americans are with African-Americans than with all other minorities combined is reflected in the widespread hope among whites that Barack Obama can somehow or other resolve the white-black race problem in America (an assumption shared by fewer blacks.)

And yet Obama's upbringing was wholly outside the continental U.S., in cultures with radically different perspectives on race than those prevailing here.

By upbringing, Obama is largely Hawaiian, but almost zero attention has been focused on the fact that he is the first major Presidential candidate with a Hawaiian background. Indeed, Obama's Hawaiian acculturation undercuts much of his self-made myth. He likes to go on about how he felt alienated as a youth because he didn't look like everybody else around him, but the truth is that a huge fraction of people in Hawaii look vaguely like Obama, since multiracial people are far more common there than anywhere else in America. Fu and Heaton reported: "Between 1983 and 1994, 46% of all marriages contracted in Hawaii were racially exogamous."

Granted, there aren't many blacks in Hawaii, but there also is less prejudice against them there than elsewhere because most blacks in Hawaii are connected to the military in some way, and thus they, or their ancestors, were selected for intelligence, honesty, and diligence.

That's why black children test less below average in Hawaii than almost anywhere else, except perhaps in Alaska. For example, on the National Assessment of Educational Progress school achievement exam of reading, in the overall U.S., 59% of black 4th graders score below basic versus 38% of the general population. In Hawaii, however, only 51% percent of blacks are below basic versus 47% of the total Hawaiian population -- a barely discernible difference.

Of course, Obama wasn't given an average Hawaiian upbringing. His grandparents sent him to the famous Punahou prep school, which is probably more dominant in the social structure of Hawaii than any other prep school in America is in its respective state. With 3,750 students from K-12 (and high school graduating classes of 430) in a state of only 1.2 million, it absorbs a very high proportion of all the young elites in Hawaii. Illustrative of Punahou's dominant resources, Sports Illustrated ranks Punahou as having the fourth best sports program of any of the 38,000 high school in America.

The Punahou School opened in 1841 on land owned by the Rev. Hiram Bingham I (grandfather of the discoverer of Machu Picchu), with its first teacher being the Rev. Daniel Dole (one of the many Congregationalist missionaries who went from New England to Hawaii to do good and whose families ended up doing well). It officially opened its doors to all races way back in 1851. For example, Sun Yat-sen, future first President of China, enrolled in 1883. Today, its student body is only 1/3 white.

So, Obama's feelings of racial oppression as a youth were more adolescent alienation fantasies than his daily reality.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...


Since you are on a Hawaii kick, perhaps you can explore a question that might be right up your alley: why does heavily Asian Hawaii have such lousy relative IQ scores and bottom rung academic performance?

One potential hypothesis from the Race/IQ perspective is that many of the original Asian immigrants were towards the bottom of the barrel in their home countries/provinces (and presumably were shifted leftward on the bell curve). Many of the early Chinese - and even Japanese - were imported to work in the sugarcane plantations. Not exactly the kind of work that would attract the best and the brightest away from their native lands.

Perhaps the low achievement of Hawaii is due to this genetic bottleneck.

Anonymous said...

I'm not asserting that Obama actually did face horrible racism in his hardscrabble Hawaiian youth, but by concluding that it was not the case due to the relative lack of whites in his prep school, aren't you repeating the myth that only whites can be racist?

stirner: A lot of asian immigrants were from the bottom-of-the-barrel in the continental United States as well, but they still tended to be very successful and upwardly mobile. It seems that white Hawaiians are no dynamos, so I would think an explanation based on Hawaii would make more sense than on its immigrants.

Anonymous said...

i would ignore that sports illustrated report. the swimmers in hawaii are slow, and punahou has a weak swim team relative to other schools. if they put a lot of weight on the swim team when they ranked punahou, they were pretty wrong.

they should probably just say it's a ranking of high school football programs, which is all sports illustrated cares about anyway.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Just because the MSM and MSA (main stream academia; can we popularize this one?) ignore the role of nature does not mean that nature explains _everything_ or that nurture explains _nothing_. If you raise an Einstein in a preindustrial society he will not develop relativity (although he might come up with a theory of the way spirits work).

Anonymous said...

I can't guess what Obama's experience was in Hawaii but when I lived there I had a girlfriend working in a public school. White "racism" was endemic in the school system and not just from the students. I can well imagine a black kid not born in Hawaii could go through the same sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get the idea that Asians in Hawaii have "lousy relative IQ scores"? Did you mean, relatively lousy IQ scores? Watch your grammar if you are going to criticize academic performance in Hawaii. The fact is, in most states only those high school students who are planning to attend college take SAT and ACT tests. In Hawaii nearly ALL students take the SAT. Naturally, the average score is lower because students who have no interest in college and have never shown much interest in an education are figured in with the college bound students. I also find ridiculous your assumption that the Asians who came to work on the plantations were from the "bottom of the barrel". They were mostly from rural areas, to be sure. An immigrant from a large city would have little experience in farm work and wouldn't be worth much on the plantation. Plantation owners also preferred rural workers because few of them had received a formal education. If they couldn't read they were less likely to unionize or move off the plantation to start their own businesses. Being illiterate doesn't mean a person is stupid. Your post shows your ignorance and your inclination to jump to conclusions.

Anonymous said...

hawaii is full of people who hate whites. the white haters of hawaii kill, assault, and bully people out of jobs. obama is from a white hating state.

Anonymous said...

people from hawaii dont hate whites... whites alienate themselves because they come to hawaii with their mainland ways and fail to adjust to the home culture, so they stick out like a sore thumb.. a dumb sore thumb.

iolani school is ranked one of the top academic schools in the US. Mostly asian... You dont know about this because you are not at this level

Anonymous said...

Wow, it's amazing how ignorant some people can be. Facts are, Barack Obama was raised in a state rich in diversity, he was raised by white grandparents but of course definitely took pride in his race, what person wouldn't? He is a smart man who's upbringing just happened to be in Hawaii. The people there have strong family values and many parents who's parents were immigrants and plantation workers many years ago have inspired their kids to make college education a focus in order to becoming a success in life. It's obvious that some people just can't take the FACT that he is a black man who was brought up in Hawaii with Hawaiian values. Most times the values you have come from how you were brought up and the influence your parents had on you so just give him the credit of being a gifted child who finished college, aspired to be being greater than the normal person and who is now our President. God Bless him and his family.

marie said...

No, no...That's the mainland. Life experience. Fact.