The Truth of This Tragedy


The Settlers brought to the Hawai’ian islands Christianity …and the tragedy, eventually, of all the things that we feel or have felt about ourselves collectively as Hawai’ian people.

It is an ugly truth that ours is a people who have been shamed for generations, by people who had only profit in mind.

That is, profit and control, not only of commerce, but also of the mindset of the Hawai’ian people of the times. The person in the photo is Hiram Bingham, one of the missionaries who invaded the Hawai’ian psyche from the moment he arrived in Hawai’i. Not only did he bring his bullying western ways, but, he also perpetuated a deep feeling of self-deprecation that is the one thing that we have, without our realizing so, carried in us for far too long now.

Dave Hume, a sorely misinformed Scot philosopher, in the late 1700’s, told the world as he spoke for his generation that “there never was a civilized nation that had any other skin color than white, nor ever any individual of any certain distinction who ever did, or for that matter, ever would or even could” claim to being anything as superior as any white person of the times. (Kanahele, G. 1986). In fact, it was people like these ones who made it as though we were never going to be anything other than less than any foreigner. The problem though is not that it is the foreigners who are causing this pain for us, at least in this day and age and with people who are displaying more than just a high school education’s worth of what was the day that will live in infamy for all Hawai’ians – Annexation Day.

Any more now, at least it seems, it is those who are like we are -Hawai’ian, perhaps born there or here, who has their own opinion about anything and anyone at all, but in particular, have this idea that if you have another measure of Aloha that you, yourself, have created and that you share with the world, it has to pass muster with the rest of the Hawai’ian population (or so it seems). The idea that anyone doing our own…Hawai’ianness…in the manner that is most appropriate to who we are personally is somehow bad is the thing that stings the most.

While we might all come from the same place, the thing that keeps us apart is that lots of us want to judge each other, and the truth is that this has been something that has been accepted for many generations, and it is not something that needs to be perpetuated. I cannot believe that there are people who are telling anyone at all that because we are not doing things in the way that it was said to anyone else has to be done in terms of things Hawai’ian, that we are doing wrong by the entirety of us all.

All this time I thought we each and all had a certain bunch of people who we are supposed to be teaching, with the things that we have been born into this lifetime with, and making sure to remain as who we are, all while teaching people the truth about us. If we want things to be different, then we have to allow ourselves to think different – meaning that we have to stop hating on each other, even if we think that what we are saying to one another is for what we want to believe is anyone’s own good.

It isn’t.

It isn’t okay to make people of your own race feel like they are disgracing all of us, specifically not when there are people who are giving great accolades to people who are still making us out to be stupid and lazy.

We are not stupid or lazy, and we are not doing anyone a disservice by doing things our own way here in mainland USA ,which is the mainland Maoli way. The Mainland Way is not better than another way – but it is ours here on the 9th Island, and ours that we have perfected in a way that screams of imperfection brought to excellence, not for any other reason than that we had to adapt.

It is perfectly fine that no one might agree with me, but, that is the beauty of now, the beauty of no longer having to be encased in the idea that since it is that we are here, and since it is that a lot of you are still there, that maybe, and rather than harshing each other out like we do, perhaps we might be able to actually see eye to eye on some things. We here are as invested in our cultural identity as anyone would be, from any culture, namely our own. I do not think that we are damaging who we are, collectively,  by any means, simply and only  because we have a different way of doing things here.

The way that we do things here is not wrong…it is just different, and is different because even as we might collectively be the same, we are all individuals, and as such, it is no one business to tell anyone else that they alone, as an individual, are going to wreck the race with our impure selves. Not one Kanaka Maoli is an impure soul, so long as what we are doing is coming from within the each of us that screams that word, the one that actually tells our story…that one word is Onipa’a…”remain steadfast,” not only with our message, but with who we are, and I have yet to find another Kanaka who is not happy and proud to see one of our own doing things our own original way, while still being able to tell our own story of what happened to the very all of us, many, many moons ago. We were told then, and some of us still believe now, that we were evil incarnate, that we were not to be thought of as actual human beings, that we were inferior, never to be anything but a damaged race with damaged values and damaged ideals. This is what lives on within a whole lot of us, the idea that what these westerners repeated to our ancestors, over and over again, as though they were performing some sort of sick and nasty science experiment, at the expense of an entire nation and race of people.

Even to this day, there are those among us who want to call us wrong, who want to tell us that we are damaging who we all are, but I beg to differ. I do not see us as doing anything harmful to who we all are, and to believe so is hurtful. To tell anyone within one’s own race that they are basically doing wrong to the all of us via what is in our hearts and souls, and what it is that we turn into our dance, or our song, or our acting, or our drawing or painting or sculpting and  what have you else, that we are …impure…as Hawai’ians, because we want to show who we are, in our way, straight from the 9th island, in the manner that we know we are able….our way, just like anyone else would do things their own way, and not someone else’s.

Pretty much, when you tell another person who is also part of your own culture that their expression of who they are, via the things that we all have at our disposal, and you state that what they are doing is wrecking the all of us, you are hurting your own people. This is what the westerners of those days wanted – us to forget our own selves in terms of the Aloha within us all that is meant to be inborn, and meant for us to use as our method of giving to the world the reality of who we are. These are the same things that the settlers told our ancestors – that they were impure, and that they were savage and evil…and why?

So THEY could take the land, and here we are, many generations later, no longer fighting just them, but also, sadly, with each other, over the idea that anyone is more Hawai’ian than is anyone else.

Yes, I realize that there are going to be people who will not ever agree with me.

They don’t have to. It is fine if they don’t.

It does not mean that I will not still be here, writing about how this all has at least affected me and others like me. It is difficult to sit here any longer and allow the hurts of the days of annexation now be the thing that comes between the people of Aloha…comes between Hawai’ians and other Hawai’ians. You can hate anyone you want, but, it is the ongoing sadness that is collective that we do not realize is why we are having a hard time understanding one another. We are too busy allowing ourselves to hang onto the old, which is a good thing, but only a good thing if, as that same people, allow the new to take place and to flourish and develop another manner of being…the manner of being the singular Hawai’ian self, the sort without the encumbrance of expectation being so much a part, not of our culture, but of those within our culture who have been taught, pretty much, that we have to protect the culture…as if we are not.

To protect it from our very selves, and to behave as though what we give as our artistic rendition of who we are is wrong and how it is that we have expressed our own pain is wrong….this is all hurtful and meant to keep certain people from ever becoming who we each and all ought to be to one another rather than what we tell one another that we are…which is that we are not good.

I KNOW I speak for every single one of us on this planet when I say that we are not bad people, us Hawai’ians, and we are not hateful, or at least we ought to not be, and truly, what we are is a people who are rebuilding. We are rebuilding our beliefs, and we are rebuilding the way that we should be thinking about one another, and not thinking about what makes one of us tell any one of us at all that who we are and the way that we express who we are in terms of being Kanaka Maoli, is not okay with them, just because they might not personally like the way that we have chosen to express who we are.

What we are is a people that is trying to become the best we can be, trying to each become a credit to our race by doing what it is that we were supposed to, by right and reason of the hurts that others within our own singular lives as both human beings and Hawai’ians have brought to us. We are meant to use what it is that broke our hearts and crushed our souls and we are, through might that is our own, meant to fully embrace ourselves as ourselves, and then, integrate who we are into the whole. It does not work this way a lot of the time, and really, it should.

What we are is one ohana, but what we are not doing is remembering that every family has crazy aunties, and every family has flambouyant uncles, and every family has its kolohes and its pupules, but still yet – every family is still a family, even if that family is jacked up enough to fight within the bounds – they are still family. This is what we are, no matter who wants to think otherwise. You would not tell your eccentric cousin that she is not allowed to give homage to our shared deities by creating artwork out of recyclables, as much as you are not meant to judge your male cousin for being gay as well as a great hula performer. You also would not tell these people how you feel, because you “no like make A” and “no like get da stink eye” from anyone else. This tells me, for real, that we have a lot of work to do, within ourselves, before a whole lot of us go out in to the world and continue to pretty much tell others that because we do not do things your way, we are damaged or second class…

Ummmm…nope…try guess again brah…we not second rate Hawai’ians.

By any means…

…I said it, so deal with it.

We all are allowed to feel how we will, and there are plenty of us who will never say that we feel inferior to those who were born in the ‘Aina versus us born here on the mainland. To believe it is okay to try to humiliate anyone else, for everything that we are not, according to anyone else with the same cultural background, is a tragedy.

It is humiliating and even abusive to tell someone, ANYONE, that they are not only not right when they do what they do as they do it, but, hurtful to make them feel like the only way to do things is someone else’s way, even calling what anyone else will do whatever is your own thought about doing things differently. When we do this to anyone else, ever, we are being abusive, for no other reason than that we are, collectively, at one time myself included, because this is how I was taught as a kid, trying to keep something from anyone at all, even others like our very selves, and also silently telling them this is okay if we see them as different than us.

This is a method, in my opinion, to keep us born and raised here on the mainland as the lesser Hawai’ians. We are not lesser than is any other Hawai’ian…we are, as was stated in a previous blog, simply and only born and raised in the mainland.

I am not saying that we believe this about ourselves, at all – to believe these denigrating things about who we are collectively is to agree with the people who came and stole our land. I am saying that it is no one’s business how it is that any of us celebrates our own Hawaiian-ness. If a person is not harming anyone else, and if that person is doing what they do, doing what they have always done, and doing very well at it – that is called a credit to our race, and really, there is nothing tragic about it.

What is tragic is that there are still others of us who are purists, and it is fine that they are, but, not at the expense of how others feel about themselves or about the contribution that any one of us makes to our culture. What is tragic is that some of us want to tell others about how they themselves feel without realizing that what they have said, even if was said with kindness, is sort of condescending, is very hurtful, and does nothing to make anyone of this beautiful culture of ours be better than we are, right this moment.

It seems like we are being told, still, that what we do is a bad thing, that who we are are bad people, the people who, just by doing how we do and what we do, not in the manner that was done and that kept things real for the time being.

We are keeping things as real as we can here. There are some of us who cannot deal with our lives as they have been, so we choose to change the one thing that harms us the most – the belief in the abusive words imparted to our ancestors as stated to us, as studied by them in all of their …superiority….as they TOLD US….over and over again…that we were the inferior race, even within the borders of our own nation. We were told that we were nothing, that we were savages and heathens, and really, we should have just accepted these descriptors and “went with it” then and showed them just how savage we were. Yet, we didn’t.

Now, we turn this onto one another, calling each other, some of us, wrong, fake, not good enough, and this is not something that would not happen, because this is how the missionaries made our ancestors believe – that we were stupid, lazy, and unrefined. I am not stupid (I am a budding research scientist in the areas of cognition, now social psychology, and biological psychology…I study the brain, am a student of these studies, as well as Philosophy…I am not stupid). There is no woman in my bloodline on either side of my family who is lazy or unrefined, and the men have always been hard working. We quash the stereotypes everyday, but, when it comes to ourselves, we latch onto them as though they are all we have that are the truth of us. These things are so not the truth of us.

It is an egregiousness, on the part of those who we share this sameness with, to make any one of us feel like we have shamed our culture. That I am Hawaiian is one thing, but that I am a Hawai’ian person living and being this person on the mainland is the thing that too many of us wants to not have be anymore, but that too many of us seem to need in terms, and need in terms of truly understanding one another on the level that is the soul within, because truly, that is the ONLY place it counts…inside.

Historically, it has been believed that ours is a race of dullards, that we were “heathens,” and that we were unrefined savages, made to believe that what was said of us by the people who came and eventually stole away our nation was the truth. As someone who has been told her whole life that she is “lolo,” that she is unable to do much more than what I am physically, and by nature, capable to do, and then to have it be that for a long time in my life, a white man abused me – this, for me, as I sit here thinking about this now, was history repeating itself, the very story of annexation being told here on the mainland, over and over again, by Hawai’ian women, married or betrothed to men who abused them….and making us think (but never believe) that we deserved to go through any of what was done to us.

And I am making a point with this…abuse…thing…and that is that it is a cellular knowledge that we have, collectively, as Hawai’ians, that we are exactly what we have been told we are, by those who believed that this is what we were, the very all of us. The way that we have been told, for many generations, not only in television and Hollywood movies, but in our lives, and not only by non Hawaiians, but also, our very own people.

This must stop.

We have got to learn to accept that we are all the same, even though we are singularly different from one another – this is called being a human.

It is human to want to fit in with those who are culturally like we are.

It is inhumane to carry on the tradition of this fractured sense of Aloha that still, too many of us are willingly perpetuating onto one another, over, of all things, a culture that collectively, we are all perpetuating, on our own, in our own manner, and guess what?

People who are not Hawai’ian are understanding, for real, who we are – because we are telling them all the truth of what really happened back all those generations ago, and they are believing what we have to tell them, as much as they are enjoying our Hula…

…and Hula that has been performed to Techno… Electronica…Rap…Old school funk…disco….R&B…old standards….and hell yeah …

\m/ HEAVY METAL, by your’s truly… \m/ …I have got to be me, and I am very Hawai’ian, just born and raised in the mainland.

And really, none of us will ever stop giving our renditions, being the Hawai’ians we are meant to be, no matter who thinks otherwise.

When thinking in terms of being “good Hawai’ians,” perhaps we all ought to first think about being good humans…

It is worth a shot…







2 thoughts on “The Truth of This Tragedy

  1. Pingback: HANAI – No One Gets Left Behind | The Mana'o Blog

  2. Pingback: Wearing a Malo+ Eating Poi doth not a Hawai’ian Make (No matter what anyone wants to believe…) | 9th island maoli

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