Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Pepper Spray and Higher Education

Mahalo to those of you who provided feedback about last week's post on the Pacific Islanders who were pepper sprayed by the police for performing the haka at a high school football game!  One of you made a good point: I failed to clearly state the connection between that incident and the PIA project's mission to expand higher education opportunities for Pacific Islander Americans. 

Half jokingly, I'd say that if you look at the video and read the articles, it appears that most of the chanters were teenagers or young adults, and it's hard for them to do their homework when they've got pepper spray burning their eyes. ;)

Sarcasm aside, here is the connection: While there's a difference between pepper spray and not being allowed to apply for underrepresented minority scholarships, the key is that these are negative things that could be avoided. This is a clear example that despite the fact that Pacific Islanders are an established and growing part of the American community, we remain misunderstood in ways that have negative consequences.   It's surprising that this happened at all, but it's even more shocking that this incident occurred in Utah, a state with one of the highest Pacific Islander concentrations in the nation. 


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