[Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada] argues that ‘any time Hawaiians—or any other native people, for that matter—come out in force to push for more respect for our culture and language or to protect our places from this kind of destruction, we are dismissed as relics of the past, unable to hack it in the modern world with our antiquated traditions and practices.
David Malie, Science, Time, and Mauna a Wākea: The Thirty-Meter Telescope’s Capitalist-Colonialist Violence, Part II
What’s difficult about being from Hawaii is that everyone has a postcard view of your home. Hawaii lives vividly in people’s minds as nothing more than a weeklong vacation – a space of escape, fantasy and paradise. But Hawaii is much more than a tropical destination or a pretty movie backdrop — just as Aloha is way more than a greeting.
The ongoing appropriation and commercialization of all things Hawaiian only makes it clearer as to why it is inappropriate for those with no ties to Hawaii, its language, culture and people to invoke the Hawaiian language. This is uniquely true for aloha – a term that has been bastardized and diminished with its continual use.
Most who invoke the term aloha do not know its true meaning. Aloha actually comes from two Hawaiian words: Alo – which means the front of a person, the part of our bodies that we share and take in people. And Ha, which is our breath. When we are in each other’s presence with the front of our bodies, we are exchanging the breath of life. That’s Aloha.
In 1893, armed U.S. naval forces helped American sugar plantation owners illegally overthrow Hawaii’s constitutional monarchy. One hundred years later, the U.S. apologized and admitted in a resolution that Native Hawaiians had never relinquished their claims to sovereignty. Today, many Native Hawaiians continue to yearn for independence. One activist, Bumpy Kanahele, has even created his own village as a model for Hawaiian sovereignty. AJ+’s Dena Takruri reports on the Hawaiian fight for sovereignty.
I think I heard about this place a long time ago? I heard there was a lot of issues with the Sovereignty land because it works like a reservation/community that shouldn’t be applied to Hawaii because it’s not even apart of USA? I don’t know much, but I remember that… A great story nonetheless!!
I am still evolving in my understanding of my gender identity. My story is not one of dysphoria, or a deep and certain understanding that I wasn’t who people said I was. My story is more along the lines of things just feeling off. And not really knowing things didn’t feel right because that uncomfortability was all I knew. Then suddenly I was introduced to the idea that I could be nonbinary and things just felt right and I finally understood what it was to be entirely in my body, what it was to be happy, to be thankful. I liken it to drinking salt water your whole life. If there is enough salt water for you to drink, you won’t die. Your thirst will never be quenched, and you won’t realize that your never ending thirst isn’t actually a necessary part of your life. You might not even realize that other people actually are satisfied and fulfilled after drinking water, because you don’t realize your saltwater is inherently different than their freshwater. Until one day something happens and you drink freshwater for the first time. And your whole world shifts. You are not unendingly thirsty anymore. You feel satisfied. You understand what it is to relax, to rest, to be comfortable. You never knew you needed fresh water. You didn’t know that you had only been getting salt water. You realize that other people had been feeling this satisfaction, this comfortability all along, that is why their lives seemed to fit them better. That is my story. The story of finally learning I needed freshwater.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS
white/white-passing trans folx: can we please do better for our trans people of color, especially dark black trans women? Let’s not fetishize them by focusing on how attractive they are to us. Let’s not only show the posts where they are murdered. They are human beings just like us and do not exist in the world for our pleasure or guilt. Let’s respect their agency.
able bodied trans folx: let us do better for our fellow disabled trabs folx. They are fucking valid and rarely if ever get representation. Let’s do better by not using them as inspiration porn. They are existing outside society’s narrow ideas of how people’s bodies and minds should be. They aren’t needing our pity or our comparisons. They need a platform from which to tell their stories. Let’s support their platform.
TLDR: trans folx please represent other trans folx who have different areas of marginalization than you. Trans representation and visibility is abysmal enough. Let’s continue to recognize the intersections and places in which we have privilege. The fight for trans rights are for ALL trans people.
* I definitely didn’t mention all areas of marginalization, I mentioned the two that I am most aware of my privilege in. Please feel free to add on or correct any mistakes I have made.
* for those trans folx who are not wanting or able to participate, you are in my thoughts today. You are not alone.
I’ve had to bust ass to be in this industry. Aquaman is especially cool because being a Kanaka Maoli—being Hawaiian—our Gods are Kanaloa and Maui, and the Earth is 71 percent water, so I get to represent that. And I’m someone who gets to represent all the islanders, not some blond-haired superhero. It’s cool that there’s a brown-skinned superhero.
“I’ve had to bust ass to be in this industry. Aquaman is especially cool because being a Kanaka Maoli- being Hawaiian- our Gods are Kanaloa and Maui, and the Earth is 71 percent water, so I get to represent that. And I’m someone who gets to represent all the islanders, not some blond-haired superhero. It’s cool that there’s a brown skinned superhero.”
There are endless costume ideas to choose from, so why would you choose costumes that enforce racist stereotypes? (Part 1)
For example, instead of dressing up in costumes that enforce stereotypes, can be neo-colonialistic, and fetishize racial/ethnic groups, dress up as something not racist, like Yoshi, a lava lamp, the Black Angry Bird, or a steel blue crayon.
Dressing up as other ethnicities enforces harmful stereotypes. More so, sexualized racial costumes result in racial fetishization, which helps lead to higher rates of rape and human trafficking. Dressing up as other ethnicities is racist. Using the culture of others as a costume is racist. Let’s #endracistcostumes
We need to remember: Native Hawaiian Culture > Local Culture
I see this all the time from locals when issues on Hawaiian culture arise, where we think just cause we grew up around da culture, we have any say in how it should or shouldn’t be used.
Lucky we live HI but it doesn’t make us free from harming Native Hawaiians. We who do not have Hawaiian in our bloodlines, are haole to these lands in its original meaning. Yes, Hawai’i is a much more loving place than most and I am so proud to be from Hawai’i, but we are not free of racism, neo-colonialism, etc, including against Hawaiians.
When local culture says one thing but Hawaiian says another, Hawaiian culture wins, because it is HAWAIIAN CULTURE. We as locals, haoles, cannot combat the feelings and lived word of Hawaiians. Ainokea if we grew up with one thing and all of a sudden they saying different. Such as with Hapa. Local culture says its anyone who is mixed with anything. I grew up around that, you grew up around that. But that is false. That is erasure of the true meaning of Hapa, of what the identity of Hapa was born out of, of the Hawaiian culture attached to it. You are not Hapa if you are not part-Hawaiian, no matter what local culture says.
Hawaiian culture always comes before local culture. Respect the culture and respect Native Hawaiians.
My name is Hinaleimoana Kwai Kong Wong-Kalu, but most people call me Kumu Hina, meaning teacher Hina. I’m Kanaka Maoli, or native Hawaiian. I was born on these islands 43 years ago as my parents’ son, Collin, but in my twenties transitioned to become their daughter, Hinaleimoana, which means Hina encircling the sea.
All through school I was teased and put down for being a “sissy,” “faggot,” “queer,” and “homo.” Worst of all was being called “māhū” - a Hawaiian word - because I didn’t know its meaning. My teachers were no help, even at Kamehameha Schools, an institution founded by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop to educate young Hawaiians.
Today, at age 43, all that has changed.
I am a graduate of the Kamakūokalani School of Hawaiian Knowledge at the University of Hawai'i, fluent in Hawaiian and three other Polynesian languages, a cultural consultant for several organizations and corporations, appointed by the Governor to Chair the O'ahu Island Burial Council, and a respected teacher with 15 years of experience educating students in grades K-12 about our history, traditions and philosophy.
Most importantly, I understand the meaning of māhū: a Hawaiian term for those born “in the middle” who embody both kāne (male) and wahine (female) spirit. Prior to Western contact, Hawaiian society embraced māhū as caretakers, healers, and teachers of ancient tradition. But colonization and Christianity led to many changes, including turning māhū from an honorific to a derogatory term.
I’m fortunate to now be in a position where I can help restore māhū to its proper place as a word of pride, dignity and respect. In my school, I make sure that every student has a “place in the middle” where they are judged not by their gender but on their work and accomplishments. And I strive to ensure that amongst the many contributions of our Hawaiian ancestors that are taught in our classrooms, from the long voyages of our great navigators to the sustainable use of our lands, we include the Hawaiian understanding of aloha – love, honor and respect for all, including māhū.
Most Americans probably think that what Hawaii has to offer the world is sun, sand, pineapples and ukeleles. I hope this story, along with the recent PBS documentary about my life – KUMU HINA - will help change that. The world needs more aloha.
How do you define “sacred?” One simple answer: it’s something you keep your butt off. Jennifer Lawrence got that memo, but decided to disregard it. In a recent interview she recalls her “butt-scratchin’” on sacred rocks while shooting Hunger Games in Hawai’i. They were, to her mind, a useful tool to relieve her of itchiness.
In the comments, which she made on a recent episode of the BBC’s Graham Norton Show this week, she says: “There were … sacred … rocks — I dunno, they were ancestors, who knows — they were sacred.” She goes on to say: “You’re not supposed to sit on them, because you’re not supposed to expose your genitalia to them”. But she did. “I, however, was in a wetsuit for this whole shoot – oh my god, they were so good for butt itching!”
She knew this was a gross cultural breach – that much is clear – but Lawrence decided to go ahead and desecrate the rocks anyway.
A pōhaku can be sacred for a number of reasons. In some cases it is because it may be the physical manifestation of an ancestor. In other cases, it may have to do with the purpose of the rock – such as birthing stones imbued with mana of the chiefs. None of these things mattered to Lawrence.
Lawrence’s story shores up a long line of Hollywood productions that have mocked traditional Hawai’ian spiritual beliefs. As scholar Lisa Kahaleole Hall notes in an essay titled: “‘Hawai’ian at Heart’ and other fictions,” Hawai’i 5-0 and Magnum PI in the 1970s and 80s and Survivor today, set the stage for this attitude. Meanwhile, cable programming on Nick at Nite “has introduced a whole new generation to the ‘secret kahuna curse’ raised when the Brady Bunch went to Hawai’i.”
This has to do with the kitsch-factor that continues to plague Kānaka Maoli – Indigenous Hawai’ians – and Hawai’i. As Hall puts it: “This has significant political implications, because by making Hawai’ianness seem ridiculous, kitsch functions to undermine sovereignty struggles in a very fundamental way. A culture without dignity cannot be conceived of as having sovereign rights, and the repeated marketing of kitsch Hawai’ian-ness leads to non-Hawai’ians’ misunderstanding and degradation of Hawai’ian culture and history.”
Also, the retelling of this story for entertainment value makes Hawai’ians and our ancestors “the butt” of her joke. Consider her response when the pōkahu – which she describes as a giant boulder – was dislodged and supposedly almost killed the sound technician on the set when it rolled down the mountain. As she tells it: “All the Hawai’ians were like, ‘Oh my God, it’s the curse’. And I’m in the corner going, ‘I’m your curse.’ I wedged it loose with my ass.”
It is high time that people realize that despite the unbridled colonial violence of modernity, for many Indigenous individual and peoples, the sacred persists in our 21st century world.
(”Water is life” in
Lakȟóta) is the banner for many of the Indigenous individuals, Nations and other collectives working to protect sacred water, the source threatened by DAPL. They have brought their understandings of the sacred into the mainstream – though there is still much work to do.
Settler colonialism has historically deemed non-Christian concepts of the sacred as a form of savage superstition. This thinking persists today. That’s why we who are Indigenous must assert and claim our sovereign and spiritual connections to our respective ancestral realms – regardless of others’ laughter and dismissal. In the mean time, Lawrence should learn to scratch herself some other way.
When sugar companies began clearing the fertile lowlands of Koholālele, like much of Hāmākua, in the mid to late 1800s, to make way for the expansion of sugarcane production on the island of Hawai‘i, a process of erasure commenced, which has endured to this day. On the ground, as acres of ‘āina, cultivated and cared for by ‘Ōiwi for generations, were clear-cut and planted over in cane, it was as if a rubber eraser had been taken to a significant number of pages in the book of Hawai‘i island’s history. Erasure—the process of completely removing something from existence or memory—however, does not occur instantly. It occurs over generations, on the ‘āina and in the minds of a people, as communities or nations are dismembered, and as people and their mo‘olelo are displaced from the ‘āina of their origins.
While this genealogy of erasure has persisted in different forms for nearly six generations in Koholālele, the faded words on those pages and the stead-fast roots of the many native trees that were felled over a century ago remain unyielding and firmly fixed in their proper place in time and space. As I weave together this short mo‘olelo in the coming pages, it is this history of resilience that I intend to highlight. This a not a mo‘olelo of erasure. Rather, in writing this mo‘olelo I hope to begin to cultivate, in current and future generations, a consciousness critically aware of the ways in which processes of erasure are questioned, resisted, and overcome.
‘O Koholālele, He ‘Āina, He Kanaka, He I‘a Nui Nona ka Lā: Re-membering Knowledge of Place in Koholālele, Hāmākua, Hawai‘i by Leon No‘eau Peralto
No “from Hawai’i but not Hawaiian” ppl please. Also, even if you’re white-passing, or you feel like you don’t “look Hawaiian”, or you have even 1/1000th Hawaiian in you, please participate! The point of this selfie train is to show people that na kanaka maoli come in all different shapes and sizes. All Hawaiians are welcome!
actually w/ mara dyer she was whitewashed by the actual author technically but it's ridiculous that she was written as white and it's better to fc mara as a woc anyway
i wanna be v careful talking about this bc you’re 100% right that it’s better to fc mara as a woc, but i don’t know if i would go so far as to say she was whitewashed by michelle hodkin. the whole thing about mara is that she’s white passing. her family, ethnicity, and her heritage isn’t erased or hidden in fact it’s a prominent and important part in the series. but, many people in fancasts and edits and such (like that text post was talking about) choose fancasts that are white. and while mara is white passing, she is still a woman of color.
and you might see this differently than i do, bc while i’m not desi, I am mostly kānaka maoli (native Hawaiian) and native american (cherokee), but also of some english decent. so while most of my family has darker features (darker skin and hair ect) i look white. people see me as white. I have it easy because of this, because I blend in. i remember shopping with my grandfather when I was around 7 and an some lady asking me if I was ok. i remember going to a family reunion in california maybe three years ago and I felt sooo out of place. I’ve been jealous of my cousin whos about the same age as me for as long as I can remember because I always thought she was way prettier than me and I was just too plain. so like yeah i get that these “issues” aren’t really issues and I have it good, but, just because I look more white, doesn’t mean it erases what I am and my culture and history.
so i can see where you’re coming from saying she was white washed, and the last thing I want is to start something but I just never felt that in the novel. in the fandom, absolutely (again the point of that main post) but in the books I never felt it like that. in fact I related a lot more to her that she felt out of place in her own skin bc of her white passing. and i think thats something important that a lot of people, like myself, don’t see enough in media for both sides of the spectrum, white passing or not.
but the real issue is that in edits and such people constantly fancast her as white. and while the argument could be made that they’re just making her “white passing” in edits, but this is unnecessary and frankly inconsiderate when most of the time those fancasts are just white women. so I 100% agree that in those cases, woc should be fancasted as mara. but when it comes to the novel, I never saw it that way. please feel free to talk to me if I’ve mentioned something wrong but this is just where i’m coming from on this.