This post was sparked from observing people. People in my community, people in my classes, and even my own family members have really motivated me to write this. It sort of begins with how we view ourselves. Hawaiʻi is filled with many ethnic groups; we call it a mixed plate. Why mixed plate and not melting pot? Well, mixed plates (local favorites) are made of different types of food, but all contribute to the deliciousness of that plate. A melting pot would be just that, melting down all the differences and it becoming one. Hawaiʻi prides herself in the acceptance of immigrant culture. In result of the sugar plantation days and immigrant labor, majority of the people living here are very mixed, hence our mixed identities.
Many of my friends and family, including myself, feel that we are not enough of one ethnic group to actually fit in. Often, I don’t feel Filipino enough, Portuguese enough, and Hawaiian enough. This comes with my parents being mixed as well and/or not passing down traditions or culture. A big problem in Hawaiʻi is the segregation between who is Hawaiian or [insert other ethnicity here] “enough.” I believe strongly in what makes you anything, is how you portray yourself, how you respect others, and how you honor the culture. Kanaka (people of Hawaiʻi) should not be pitted against each other because we do things differently.
I have seen time and time again of Hawaiians rolling their eyes at other Hawaiians because they don’t know enough about the culture or even considering them not Hawaiian “enough” because of blood quantum. Why? Should we not honor our differences and similarities? If the differences are bad, should we not educate them? Its not enough to say youʻre wrong. Educate them. Tell them why, and if its not a matter of education, take into account their perspective. This is what starts anger and provokes violence. We are all children of Hawaiʻi, we are all children of this culture.
In this way, I believe that all cultures, especially those who are marginalized must be respectful of one another. Everyone has a different story to tell. Everyone comes from different backgrounds that we should be respectful of. Because the belief that what makes you a stronger Hawaiian or African or Filipino etc., should come from how and what you practice is hurtful; it can even be hateful.
I may not know many traditional practices of Hawaiʻi, but I honor and respect my kūpuna (elders/ancestors) and the heritage that I have claimed through them. If I am curious or wrong, I do my research. If I am wrong, I would hope my friends and family correct me. I think what makes any place beautiful are the differences. Differences allow perspectives we would not view or take into account and helps us understand as a whole. We should be inclusive to all thoughts and cultures. I hope this sparks something in you as well. Do your research. If someone ever tells you that you aren’t enough of [insert ethnic group here], ask them why? Why do you say that? And if they say because you don’t know x and y about this or that, ask them to educate you.
Happy Curl, Happy Girl
Curly Island Girl