Apparently, the spectre of racism is rearing it’s ugly head again.
Although I have made California my home for the past 15 years, I was born and raised in Hawaii. Although my ancestry is mixed, and does not include blood from before 1778, as someone born and raised in the islands, I identify myself as a “native” hawaiian. One of the most beautiful things about Hawaii is the great diversity of cultural backgrounds we have. For some reason (perhaps the sweet smelling air), people over the generations in Hawaii have felt less inclined to in-breed, and instead have found love and created families together despite differences in background and appearance. California seems to be moving in this direction as well, and I look forward to the day when nobody can check just one single “race” box on the census form throughout this country.
The upcoming S. 147 and H.R. 309 bills are an insult to the spirit of aloha, and cannot be tolerated, as it divides us as a people based on false classifications of “race”. To be a native hawaiian is not something that is passed on genetically…it is cultural. And although the influence of the ancient hawaiians is certainly felt, it is not any more important than the influence of all of the immigrants that have come to the shores of Hawaii. To be a native hawaiian is to have to explain what “Zippy’s” is to friends on the mainland (sort of a local “Denny’s”). To be a native hawaiian is to love, cherish, and respect the many cultures that found a home in the middle of the sea. To be a native hawaiian also means to be a proud american for those who were born after statehood, and an even prouder american for those born before statehood who got to be a part of that choice. To be a native hawaiian is not something that can be legislated, nor should it be. To be a native hawaiian is a decision that is made by an individual.
These terrible bills hearken back to the days where a white woman could give birth to a black child by a black father, but a black woman could not give birth to a white child by a white father. We are all human, all connected. And we are americans, first, last and always.