Born and Raised

hawaiian pride

“Wherever I Am, Hawai’i is there, too”

(Kumu Hula Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu)

(Flanary, L. Siebens, E., American Aloha:Hula Beyond Hawai’i, 2003)

I wish I knew the reason why it is that because anyone Hawai’ian who is not there, in Hawai’i, living their lives, that those people not living there are not “real” Hawai’ians.

This is one of the most hurtful things, not only to hear, but to hear over and over again, as though saying so is somehow making things right, is somehow doing anyone else a favor in terms of making them feel another person’s energy of Aloha. Just because something is said again and again it does not make it the truth. Just because people want to believe that they are better than someone else is, even someone who is considered “their own” people, and just because I might not, lots of us might not, will not, do not do like they do, in any other respect than wake up and be human beings.

Hawai’ian human beings…

It is not a tradition, this ongoing hatred of people who are not like us – it is a hatred, is like  a flying cockroach finding its way to the bride’s veil on the day of her wedding…it was a beautiful wedding, but the only thing anyone talks about is not how beautiful the dress is, but how big the ugly brown flying cockroach was that landed on her veil without her knowing. This is the way that this appears to a lot of people, but, when no one wants to accept the truth that they might actually know is real, and when it is that the things that we have adhered to and believed for the majority of our lives, and the thing that we were taught by our elders as children is not but to hate that which is different than we are, even though it is the same, nothing can change.

We cannot change a thing unless collectively, we are able to look past what is not the same. Lokahi is something that in the sense that is the definition, we know a lot about. This is not enough. We have to also live in that energy of Lokahi..of Unity….

We have to live it.

We have to do it.

We have to believe in it.

We have to be it.

We are not it.

On this side of the Pacific Ocean we pine for those like us to see us as them, even though we are so very…different.

We are.

We are those people who have been taught, by our island born parents, what it means to be Hawai’ian, have been taught about how very important it is that we understand the challenges that we would face here, being so far away from our islands in the middle of the sea, have been shown the Truth of Aloha – it is adaptable to anyone, anywhere, even if you are a Hawai’ian not living in Hawai’ is ours to present Aloha to the world. 

Yet, we have bothered only to see what is the difference between us, and not what is the same. We we have this…fight….for what is ours, but, the first thing that we have to embrace is that we are our own, and we are each others’, and we are all here, while you are all there, and we are not judging you.

We are not broken, not damaged…we are simply and only born and raised on the mainland. This only makes us here geographically different. We dance like you folks do, but perhaps not to only the same music…Patrick Makuakane does his to techno, and I do mine to whatever makes my feet move and my hands tell the story. If Keali’i Reichel can cover The Beatles’ In My Life, then I can dance Hula to anything I want to….regardless if it is Marilyn Manson, Motley Crue, or even Etta James.

We have had to adapt a collective of historical lifetimes, of the chiefs and the monarchy and the things that go bump in the night, adapt our understanding of these things so they are not made more scary, more unbelievable. We have had to tell our stories about The Night Marchersand Harry Mongoose away from the place where we would be able to point out these things to our children. We have had to improvise our traditions, make them our own, call them Hawai’ian and let the world see our roots, even though a lot of us live in a place where it is almost sinful to see anyone’s roots.

Why does it make another person who shares the same ancestry as me, who loves everything that we all are and all that we are about – why is it such a problem that I was, that anyone was born and raised on the  mainland? Why is it difficult to think about people from there discovering who they truly are away from there, and why is it that we who were not born and raised there are somehow, by right of our zip code – damaged? 

No one can ever know the truth behind the pain of the collective, the false bravado revealed by those who want to keep us at a distance, maybe, and somehow, through this …self-hatred…brought about by the pain of the mainland Maoli people, a pain which is not meant for those who are just like us, to use against us as though somehow, you are right, and we are damaged.

Only the collective knows what it is like for that same collective to feel like they have something to prove, and like they are not good enough, and like they do not belong to the ohana we each and all belong to. No one can know unless they have experienced it -the pain that is for real in seeing in others the same thing that we have, that we are, and to be confused by the idea that we are all the same, but different. No one knows what it is like to have an awful attitude, and have this attitude because we are not damaged or strange or…fake kine Kanakas. The damage is not done by others, but, by our very selves. The damage was brought to us by people who know us, because they are us…yet still, they judge, and correct, and use as a good example of a bad Hawai’ian. We are the same, and we keep saying that we are the same, and the people who we are telling this to…for some strange reason – their collective behaves as though they’d keep everything that is ours, because it is also theirs, from us.

This is the reality of life, with other Hawai’ians, that a whole lot of Hawai’ians would ever have to deal with because unlike the herd of black sheep Kanakas, there are those among us who have chosen to keep us apart, and all because there still is the hatred towards and misunderstanding of ourselves in relation to ourselves, the madness of “Us vs. Them” will continue unless and  until one of us chooses to lead by example, which we have already been doing, for years. The reason it does not help or work to correct the issues is because there has been no one to raise their voice and the awareness of the populace of all of Planet Earth, but for sure the entire populace of Hawai’ian people keeping other Hawai’ian people from having the right to call ourselves what we have so rightfully been expected to use, and all that a lot of us have ever done is abuse the privilege to call one’s own self Hawai’ian, for the simple fact that everyone knows that REAL Hawai’ians are also REAL humans, just like anyone else is.

We are not different because we want to be or are trying to be. We are different because we have been told we are, and we are different because this is who we have been made to be, all because we are not born and raised in Hawai’i.

The 9th Island of California is my Hawai’i.

It is my home.

It is my ‘Aina.

My children, even as they are hapa and even as though they do not have these same problems that we, their parents and all others who were born and raised here, all others who hail from the Kingdom of Hawai’i but not from Hawai’i might. We have taught our kids very well, these lessons of being the people of Aloha, and our collective of children know very well who they are. They know who they are because we know who we are, and we know who we are, because we were taught who we are, as Hawai’ians, as people of the Aloha Race. We taught them not to judge, and we taught them to love who they are, to know who they are, to be who they are, and to love unconditionally. We taught them to be proud and to be strong, to be the ‘ikaika within, so that they would be able to recognize it when they were not being their true, strong, Maoli selves.

We taught them, collectively, that this is not acceptable, that the people over there are the same as we are, over here, and we taught them to have that much respect for others who are just like them, but not like them, at all. This is the gift of the mainland – the adaptation of who we are, of who we were raised to be, of everything that each and every Kanaka Maoli inherently knows is ours…

The truth is ours, and the truth is that we are not different…we merely live somewhere else. We are not damaged, we are just not there, in Hawai’i. We do not speak another language – we speak the language of the heart and the soul, and we speak the language that is the same one that anyone else Maoli would, just in a different tone, with a different kind of hula band, the sort that rips and shreds and rocks while it equally guides and soothes and reminds us of where it is that we came from, in the sense that is indigenous, the sense that calls us by our Ancestral names….Kahaku, Maile, Mapuana, Nahunoni, Kapiolani, Kanani and Ku’uipo…We are the very same.

We are the same in the sense that our traditions have been kept, and our traditions have been made to become something that we can call our own, and something that we can be proud of and something that we know will alter the future of our own lives, let alone, our very selves. My indigenous self reaches out to others like me….other indigenous selves..because I “see” them, all of them, and they are just like me. They are not “this much blood” or “this much ancestry,” because really, being Hawai’ian is not about our zip code. It is about our heart and soul, about the Kuleana we are each and all born with into this lifetime, about teaching our keiki who they are, no matter where they are, no matter where they were born and raised.

It is a hurt that is generations deep, and a pride that is mistaken as us over here trying to impress anyone else with who and what we are. It is a challenge that we each and all have to not allow the hatreds of our ancestors be the thing that fuels what is actually a collective fight that will never be won if all of the people involved cannot get past this one thing – we who are born and raised in the mainland are not damaged Hawai’ians, are not people who, just because we were not born there, are not real Hawai’ians.

We do not teach our children only about the things that were taken from us, from them, so many generations ago, and we also do not teach them that they are different than anyone else is. We do not teach them that they are more different, that they are more better, smarter, prettier, more handsome, mo’ bettah than anyone else. We teach them that it is their Kuleana to please continue wherever it is that we will leave off, and to please be kind when doing so, to be the peaceful warriors, to love all, even those who are not just like them.

We have taught our kids that our traditions are the things that keep us, as a race alive, not only as a people, but as humans sharing the air with other humans. We have taught them to meld their own ‘Aina with that of their Tutu and that of the ‘Aumakua. We have taught them of their own cultural resilience, and we have made them understand that who we are is not dependent upon who tells us who and what we are not. We let them rest in the idea that their grandparents did this same thing for us, so that we would be who would carry on into the future this beauty that is the Aloha alive and well within the collective heartbeat, as well as it is right there, next to the collective heartache, that is being born and raised Hawai’ian on the mainland.

We let the rest of the world know who we are, unashamed of the idea that we are what we are, by right of our birth. We might not always sound just like you, but we feel like you do, and we hurt like you do, and we want all the same things that anyone of you over there in Hawai’i does – we want to be able to stake our claim on this planet, and it is for lots more than rights as Hawai’ians in our stolen kingdom.

It is for the absoluteness that is the right to call one’s own self Kanaka Maoli….a native person, because we are that. We are every bit as Hawai’ian as anyone claiming that we are not, would be, and we are every bit the same as anyone who wants to point the fingers at us, call us “lesser than” and make it believable, just because there is this energy of “us vs. them” between, of all people, folks of the similar race.

When will we understand, the very all of us, that being Hawai’ian is the sense of equal pride and joy, the sense that we each and all have as people of an island nation whose hearts ache, whose souls cry out the same kahea to all those who will listen?

When we we realize that we are very dearly divided, that we have always been, and the sadness is not, was not ever our choice here on the mainland, but the choice of a group of people who are just like us who felt slighted by a cousin, an auntie, a friend, a parent…who was from the mainland. Just like the wildfire of hatred so prevalent within the very borders of our damned selves, this hatred still exists and spreads. It is a hatred born of ignorance, arrogance, resentment and shame. It is a hatred too heavily weighted to bear for those who believe it is real, and a hatred directed at people who have only been taught, our entire collective lives, that we are the people of Aloha, and as such, we were expected to show that Aloha, not only to our own, but to the world, because that is how our Kupuna, our Tutu, our Auntie, our Mom guys taught us…

We have had all these challenges, for the collective all of our lives, and to this day, remain, not only to fight for what is collectively ours as Hawai’ian people on the islands and around the globe, but to remind the very all of us that since it is that anyone’s life matters, ours, as actual Hawai’ian people who live or were born and raised here on the mainland, matter.

I could keep on writing, but I am pretty sure that I don’t need to – the thing I am trying to make crystal clear is that we can win nothing together if we do not include everyone, even if we do not want to do that – it is our job as Hawai’ians to be loving, to practice kindness, and to always stand by those things and ways of being which perpetuates us, perpetuates who we are.

We were each and all brought to this moment, not so that we would have another Hawai’ian be told that they are wrong or that they are against people who are of the same race as they are, but, so that each of us could have a glimpse at the things that do not serve us or our purpose. It is our purpose to Be Hawai’ian, and to live as such…as though we were born and raised in Hawai’i.

Many of us might not be born and raised Hawai’ians, but, we are indeed, Hawai’ian.

… we are not damaged…we are merely mainland born and raised…






8 thoughts on “Born and Raised

  1. Being Hawai’ian doesn’t mean you are relegated to live in the 50th state or have your children born and raised there. The Hawai’ian race has come under enough criticism and scrutiny from without. We don’t need to do this to one another. That you choose to hula to techno is intriguing but not, in my opinion, a travesty of the culture. The real challenge comes from trying to gain the respect and recognition due a people whose monarchy was ill advised and overthrown. A way of life was desecrated by men who, under the guise of religion, proceeded to steal property, land and a rightful heritage from an unsuspecting and uneducated populace. Many Hawai’ians are very protective of our culture and seek to preserve it while continuing to seek the respect that was denied us for so long. Evolution is a natural progression of life. Eventually we will all be on the same page. We are all progressing at different paces.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Morning, Shawn, and thank you for your comment.

      I am perplexed as to the idea that you would call what anyone here has chosen as their own personal and artistic contribution to the furthering of our culture a “travesty.” While I am not the one who creates my numbers to Techno music, I am one who applauds that Kumu Patrick has done this, as much as I am standing and cheering Sudden Rush and their rap rendition of Kaulana Na Pua – a song which, in my opinion, is offensive because it has been turned into a rap, and for the other reason than that here in the mainland, there were a lot of years where rap music offered nothing but disrespect to women of any culture, which inspired and may well even have incited violence between rivaling gangs. Yet, while it might not have been my favorite style of music, and while I did not appreciate the idea that these young men took what is a traditional song for all of us…and turned it into something that here in the mainland, was akin to what we were becoming so accustomed to as being “normal.” Being Hawai’ian, the only way that we each and all know how to is normal to us. This is our normal. We are not doing things that are bad for us as a whole. We are expressing who we are, what we are, and we are doing it our own way.

      Do I believe it was a travesty that these young Hawai’ian men contributed to our culture the way that they did? Not at all.

      Would I rather hear one of our own turn slack key guitar music into some very very hard rockin’ rock music ? Of course I would – that is also the culture, here, in the mainland, that is such a huge part of life here. Our music is the same, but not, and because of this, we have adapted our dance, and have contributed to our culture in the only way that we knew to. It does not mean that any one of us is detracting from who we are – you can’t possibly believe that we here also do not create wonderfully beautiful pieces to actual Hawai’ian music, can you? If this is what is believed of us, then this is the thing that is being exposed, perhaps over time through the same things that the settlers brought to us: The repetitive things that told us that we were dumb, that we were unrefined and that we were “savage” and “barbarous” ( G. Kanahele, 1986) . We do what we do, and how we do it all, by never forgetting that we have to uphold these tenets, these kuleanas, for the sake of the generations which have come after ours – our children.

      I cannot say that my hapa kids, that their friends, that my nieces and nephews, and all the other kids, have not benefited from this much – we have taught them the Wiccan Rede, which is very much akin to the Spirit of Aloha Law, and reads “Do that which ye will, but above all do no harm…”

      This is all we are trying to do – our collective things, our way, from over here, and for a long time all we have heard is like what we keep hearing…and that goes back to times of antiquity, to when it was that we were told we were bad, that we did not do things the way that the settlers did them, that we were heathens and godless…and really, all we want to do is be who we are, without anyone, namely our own, judging us as less than. This is not a lot to ask – that we be, as much as anyone in Hawai’i be, as anyone who will keep the old traditions as well as embracing, or at least respecting the new traditions that we here create. We are not here to judge – we are here to be part of something that we have always been part of, but that people want to keep us under their control of.

      This is what I mean by telling others that it is time that we thought about things a little more than we are . The idea that anyone can possibly make it be any worse for another Hawai’ian, by telling anyone within that same culture, that the way we are contributing is somehow wrong is damaging. We have to be who we are, you understand, and we are all not going to do things the way that they have been done for generations. I could go on and on about another thing that is a generational tradition, and one that not a lot of us are willing to talk about but that I am, because it totally applies to me and one important reason why this blog has been created – Domestic Violence, which is something that I ended up experiencing for many years, and is something that I found out is killing our women as fast as any physical disease will. In order to heal from it, from the emotional damages done to me, I had to turn to Hula. Because I am in the mainland, I have lots of different kinds of friends, not only Hawai’ians, and not only people…non Hawaiians….I grew up with and consider as being family. Many of them are Native American, and each of those friends know what it feels like to have to fight for what is theirs, and just like us, have to clarify for those with whom we share ethnicity and culture with, exactly what we are about…because of the influence of my Native American Shaman friends, and because of my Auntie Kalei’s influence and training me all my life to be the Kahu I am now, I would not feel comfortable calling it what I have for years, still call it…which is my Medicine Dance.

      We are not damaged, and we do not do damage to another person, typically another Hawaiian, has judged our contribution as such.

      Thank you for reading and commenting Shawn, and have a very lovely rest of your day today



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