The land sparkled like glitter. It was 1961 and my mother let my brothers and me take turns sitting by the airplane window, but I was lucky enough to commandeer the seat as the plane made its final approach to Los Angeles International Airport. More than 50 years later, I can still recall my awe at seeing all of those buildings and houses lit up in L.A.’s suburbs. For a little Hawaiian girl who was used to kerosene lanterns, it was sheer magic. We had flown beyond the horizon.
Sociologists refer to that period as the Hawaiian diaspora of the 1960s—a wave of out-migration of Hawaiians to the mainland in the decade after Hawai‛i became a state in 1959.
Diaspora or not, my father had just ...