Hilo High Grad Lois-Ann Yamanaka Gets New York Times Exposure

Big Island girl Lois-Ann Yamanaka, who graduated from Hilo High School in 1979 has become quite an accomplished writer.  Yamanaka is the oldest of four daughters who grew up in Pahala on the Big Island.   Her mother was a school teacher and her father was a school administrator.

Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Hilo High Class of 1979

Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Hilo High Class of 1979

Yesterday, she was featured in the New York Times as an Op-Ed Contributor with her column “This Man is an Island,” where she writes about life on the Big Island when Obama was attending Punahou.  It’s an interesting piece and I had to laugh when she talks about the Big Island:

…In those days, I lived on the Big Island, where pop-culture-wise we were always five years behind Honolulu and 10 years behind the mainland. But we had words, our own words for everything, for what we wore, what stink foods we ate, our idiosyncrasies, what cars we drove, what parts of town we inhabited, what bad habits we had or what pagan rites we practiced. Words for the whole list of who we are, and they go on and on…

Well Mrs. Yamanaka… things haven’t changed much as were still 5 years behind Honolulu and 10 years behind the mainland.

Yamanaka was named one of the “25 Most Influential Asians in America” by A. Magazine, and was listed among “Those Who Shaped the Isles in this Century: 100 Who Made a Difference,” by the Honolulu Star Bulletin.

Lois-Ann Yamanaka & Melvin E. Spencer III

Lois-Ann Yamanaka and Melvin E. Spencer III

She currently helps run Na’au Private School on Oahu.

2 Responses

  1. That was the dumbest article I’ve ever read–what a shame the NYT chose this ignorant author to represent Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Honolulu and suffered the taunts of “local” East Asians who told me I was not, could not, and should not even try to be “local” because surprise surprise, I am not haole, not Black, not Filipino, not Portuguese, none of the groups Ms. Yamanaka chose to mention. She has no idea who I am; she has no idea about my community (PS there are a LOT of us with weird names like “Barack Obama” in O’ahu Lois, WATCH OU!!!). And we don’t always body surf! To put it bluntly, I’m the wrong kind of Asian. The dark, foreign kind of Asian. I eat the wrong kind of rice.

    Can we stop these stupid debates about what constitutes local (be real, Lois. If his name was Barry Okimura, no one would have questioned Barack’s island cred) and talk about the struggles of NATIVE Hawaiians, who suffer the worse kind of disfranchisement and oppression in their own land? I’d rather hear what a NATIVE Hawaiian has to say about Barack Obama.

  2. Congratulations Ms. Yamanaka for being featured at New York Times! And thanks Damon for informing us about it. I’m now going to click the link and read the whole article there :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I do this to keep the spammers away * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.