honie

6

Moana + forehead touches

The Hongi (or Honi) is a Polynesian greeting in which two people greet each other by pressing noses/foreheads and inhaling at the same time. This represents the exchange of ha, the breath of life, and mana, spiritual power, between two people. The ancient custom of Hongi when meeting another included touching foreheads together, inhaling, kissing the other on the cheek, hugging and then exhaling.

Pasifika culture meets pop culture.

I hate making posts like this one. I feel mean and like I’m being overly aggressive. Denying other people a good time.

But I really feel like I have to say something in this case. So lets talk about the hongi/honi, and fandom culture (particularly shipping culture).

(Image description: Pictured above is a still from James Cameron’s Avatar where two aliens are leaning in to press their noses and foreheads together. Bellow it is a photo of a Maori person and a white person engaging in a Hongi with their foreheads and noses pressed together.)

Said Hongi in New Zealand, and Honi in Hawai’i, the custom of pressing ones forehead and nose to that of another person is a traditional greeting.

It’s used widely in New Zealand in all situations. From formal events at parliament, graduation, a gathering at a marae (meetinghouse). To casual situations like visiting ones uncles, aunties, and couzies. Or welcoming an interviewee on a midday TV show.

A Hongi represents equality, trust, the sharing of ha (breath of life), the sharing of communal responsibilities and duties, belonging, respect, and conveys a welcoming spirit.

It’s considered to be somewhat like a handshake, and often accompanies a handshake.
The one thing it doesn’t imply? Romance between the participants.

Except with the greater visibility of Pasifika culture late last year and early this year (2016-2017), fandoms have been picking up on the Hongi. But the problem is I’m only seeing it depicted in ship art.

This is harmful. It’s appropriating, and divorcing it from it’s true cultural function. And it’s creating some awkward associations for people trying to participate naturally in their cultural customs.
Yes a fan artist might think “It’s just one picture.” But their one picture is one of many that are having the effect of misrepresenting and fetashizing the Hongi for use as ship fuel.

And in fact, this colonization has been in effect longer than one might think. Consider that the Honi is often translated or explained as “The Hawaiian kiss.”

So this is just a request to fan artist, to be careful, and to practice cultural sensitivity.

(Ok to reblog.)

One thing that makes me most proud of Humans of New York is the warmth of the comment section. There are exceptions of course, but generally the responses to each story are thoughtful and encouraging. I joke that Humans of New York is followed by the nicest 25 million people on the Internet. Often the comment section will takes on a life and a narrative of it’s own. During my visit to Santiago, I received an email from a woman named Victoria (aka Sofia) who shared a story about how her life was changed by the support of the HONY community. Very proud to pass it along:

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(½) “We’d been trying to adopt for several years. We didn’t want an infant. The waiting list was too long. Plus we had one child already, so we’d already been through the experience of having a baby. We wanted other couples to have that opportunity. So we decided to adopt an older child. But everything went wrong. Our application was invalidated after three years because my husband got a job in Ecuador. When we tried to start over, the government went on strike. Then we lost all our possessions in a storage facility fire. So I was about to give up. I couldn’t do it anymore. The process was stressing me out so much that it was affecting my biological child. Then right when I was about to give up, I saw a Humans of New York post about a man who’d grown up in a group home. I thought: ‘He could have been my child.’ I wrote about my difficulties in the comment section, and hundreds of people responded. Everyone told me not to give up. My phone was buzzing all day. The ones that touched me most were the stories from adopted children. It gave me the strength to go on.”

(Santiago, Chile)

It’s a mind fuck. You go to audition after audition, and there are one thousand more ‘no’s’ than ‘yes’s.’  And you try to find that one little thing that you can change that will make all the difference.  ‘Maybe if I lose 5 more lbs.’ Or ‘Maybe if I had gone to that school.’  Or ‘Maybe if I had worked on the lines for 30 more minutes.’  And it’s hard to step back and realize that it’s not even personal.  It wasn’t about your talent.  It’s not that you’re bad or you’re good. Most likely, the casting director already had a person in their head they were looking for—and you weren’t it.  Or even worse, the role had already been filled, and they were just holding auditions to follow protocol.  Even when you get chosen for a role, success is so fickle and fleeting.  A gig today doesn’t mean a gig tomorrow.  Unless you’re Brad Pitt or Will Smith, and you can make your own demands, you’re always going to be waiting for the approval of someone else.  In order to stay sane, you’ve got to find other things or people in your life that bring you value.  You can’t just be that weird actor person.
—  Humans of New York

“For the last eight years I’ve been the head of communications for the UN Refugee Agency. My job is to make people care about the sixty million displaced people in the world. I wish I could tell every single one of their stories. Because if people knew their stories, I don’t think there would be so many walls. And there wouldn’t be so many people drowning in the seas. But I don’t think I anticipated how difficult it would be to make people care. It’s not that people are selfish. I just think that people have a hard time caring when they feel insecure. When the world is unstable, people feel vulnerable. And vulnerable people focus on protecting what they have. They focus on their own families. They focus on their own communities. It can be very hard to welcome strangers when you’re made to feel threatened. Even if those strangers are more vulnerable than you.”

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This is my friend Melissa Fleming, who I think is one of the most important people in the world, and who was so instrumental in helping organize the HONY refugee series. Tomorrow at 7pm we will be in conversation at the Union Square Barnes and Noble, to celebrate the launch of her new book: A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea, which tells the powerful story of a young woman who survived a shipwreck while fleeing the war in Syria. If you can’t make the signing, you can get the book here: http://amzn.to/2kb9Ga8

JAMES AND KARA, SWEETIES, IM SO SORRY THESE DUMBASS WRITERS HAD THE AUDACITY TO PRETEND YOURE NOT IN LOVE. HONIES, BABIES, SWEETHEARTS WE ALL KNOW YOURE IN LOVE AND I LOVE YOU