Is Kamehameha School Racist?

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

Kamehameha School is in a lot of hot water over their admission policy, which requires students to be at least partly Hawaiian (by blood, not by having been born in the state).

Is it racist?

I say no. A lot of information isn’t making its way on to the news; something that doesn’t surprise me at all. Here’s the deal: way back when, Hawaiian queen Bernice Pauahi Bishop set up a trust (to be run by the Bishop Estate Trustees, which is a whole different scandal) that was to be spent specifically on education, with a “preference” toward Hawaiians. Kamehameha is a private school and, to the best of my knowledge, receives no state or federal funding. Just as my school was allowed to preach Christianity, Kamehameha School is allowed to say that non-Hawaiians cannot attend their school.

This is a policy that has been in place for over one hundred years. While the argument could be made that this is an dated and out-of-touch policy, I think that everyone is missing the obvious solution. Bishop’s will does not state that non-Hawaiians cannot attend (it does say that the board of trustees can regulate the admissions process, and to ensure that Hawaiians have been getting “preference”, that’s exactly what they’ve been doing), so go ahead and let non-Hawaiians in, just with a slightly different set of rules.

I don’t know what tuition is like for the Hawaiian students who are able to attend, but it seems to me that non-Hawaiian students should be able to attend, but the Bishop Estate shouldn’t have to pay for it. Non-Hawaiians would just have to pay a lot more in tuition, which, if they want to attend a private school in Hawaii, they would have to do anyway.

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  1. I agree with you on this. I think that, if a school is private, and is not receiving federal funding, it should be allowed to regulate who goes there.

  2. Tom B.

    You might want to check out this page for more info about the school, its admission policy, tuition, etc.

  3. fuschia

    I think that kamehameha is not a racial school. This school has been a Hawaiian only school for over 100 years and it should stay that way for the time being. This is a school under Princess Pauahi’s will and it should be followed.

  4. AJ

    The question isn’t whether or not they have the right to discriminate based on race; as a private institution they do. However, it is racist to only allow students who have “native” Hawaiian genes in. This school and its people should be thoroughly socially ostracized.

  5. RK

    The more I read about Hawaii, the more I learn how racist most people there are. It’s like the 1950’s deep south.

    Way too many other places in this world to visit. I don’t need to support that kind of hate.

  6. @RK – I don’t know what you’ve been reading, but after having lived in Hawaii for 18 years I can tell you it’s one of the least racist places I’ve ever been. When I moved to Spokane, WA in 1999, I was shocked by how racist people here can be. That’s not to say that there aren’t racist people in Hawaii, there definitely are, but it’s almost the complete opposite of “the 1950’s deep south.”

  7. lani

    kam school is not racist at all. it was a special gift given by the princess to serve the hawaiian children!! this message is specifically to AJ & RK you guys obviously dont know that hawaii had so much taken away from them from foreigners. Let them have the right to educate their children with hawaiian culture. It was in her will!! its her money and her land let princess pauahi do what she wants with it!!

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