Dear Mr. Obama,

As the final days count down to your inauguration, I would like to share with you one very specific hope and its corollary fear I have.  Throughout your campaign, although I did not support your candidacy, I greatly admired your rhetoric on race and race relations.  As the first “hapa” president, although you and I don’t share specific bloodlines, we do share the experience of being built and raised struggling with the idea of whether or not we were “half” this or “half” that, or a “whole” something else.  I believe the answer we both arrived at is that we are “whole” people, and that beyond “black” and “white” we are both in fact “human.”

One of the primary reasons why I opposed your candidacy was your support for the Akaka Bill, aka the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act.  You spoke on the floor before a cloture vote on the Akaka Bill put forth by both Dan Inouye and Dan Akaka, and acting as the “third Hawaiian Senator,” you spoke in strong support of their bill.  This despite the fact that the Akaka Bill promises to divide our homeland, the State of Hawaii, into two governments, solely on the basis of race.  I imagine that your support of the Akaka Bill was politically expedient, but I hope that it was not in fact based on a thoughtful contemplation of the issue.

I would like for you to imagine for a moment that your mother was native Hawaiian, and had ancestors going back before 1778 in the Hawaiian Islands.  Also imagine that your father had never left your mother, and lived with you in Hawaii during your entire time there.  Now imagine telling your father that he wasn’t allowed to vote in an election that you and your mom could vote in.  Imagine telling your father that he wasn’t allowed to serve in an elected office that you and your mom could serve in.  Imagine telling your father that you and your mother had “rights” that he was not allowed to have.

This is the exact scenario that promises to play out if the Akaka Bill becomes law.  A group of “experts” will decide who is and who is not “Hawaiian” by race, and this group will be asked to institute a government that will attempt to negotiate rights and resources away from the rest of the public of the State of Hawaii.  It may turn out that the State of Hawaii legislature will resist attempts to take over public lands and put them into the hands of a single race-based government.  But it may also turn out that the State of Hawaii legislature will be co-opted by the unregulated donations available to them from members of this new race-based government, and will be a willing participant in the reallocation of land and resources based solely on race.

As a fellow hapa-haole, born and raised in Hawaii as you were, educated at Punahou as you were, I beg you to turn towards those who are still promoting the Akaka Bill, and with all the grand rhetoric at your disposal, demand that they abandon their attempts to divide us as a people based on race.  Insist to them that we are “One America.”  Insist to them that we are “One People.”  Insist to them that we should all live under “One Law.”  Make a note of the first constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, which nobly declared that all people were “of one blood.”  Let them know that as a hapa-haole, born and raised in Hawaii, you have just as much, if not more right to claim the islands as your homeland as some toe-nail native Hawaiian who was born and raised on the mainland.  Quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, and demand that we should be judged on the content of our character, not the color of our skin.  Move them with your sincere belief that we are all human, first and foremost, and that arbitrary racial distinctions do NOT make the man.

I know that your first days in office will be tumultuous ones, with the Middle East burning, the economy tanking, and the various special interests groups pounding on your door for their pound of flesh.  But if you could please take the time to make a strong stand against racial division as one of the first acts of your office, you could help heal the wounds in the State of Hawaii that have festered for the past 30 years of the race-based experiment called OHA.  You have the background, the charisma and the credibility to demand that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of race.  You could change the face of Hawaii politics, and move us away from division and towards conciliation with a single, moving speech.

Please, Mr. Obama, give us the hope you promised.

Mahalo,

Jere Krischel, civil rights activist

8 Thoughts on “An Open Letter to Barack Obama

  1. Pingback: Learning about the Akaka Bill » once upon a krischel » An Open Letter to Barack Obama

  2. Tom McAuliffe on 1/16/2009 at 6:22 pm said:

    OUTSTANDING!

    Aloha

    Tom

  3. Sent this to Obama via “change.gov” today. I’ll put updates here if I get any response.

  4. Keala Peters on 2/2/2009 at 4:32 am said:

    I am a Senior Student from Saipan and I am studying the Hawaiian culture and history to help me understand why the Hawaiian’s oppose the proposal of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea. Although I am out of topic, I want to point out that I love everything the Hawaiian’s stand for. Good letter!

  5. Aloha Keala,

    Typically, opposition to development in Hawaii by ethnic Hawaiian groups is little more than a shakedown. The TMT would be blessed by these groups if they were paid sufficiently generous amounts to do “cultural impact studies,” but most institutions refuse to give into this kind of extortion on principle.

    Mauna Kea, and the observatories on top studying the mysteries of the universe, is a rightful pride of all in Hawaii. Using the mountaintop to explore the heavens is a noble acknowledgment of the great history of the Polynesian colonists to came to Hawaii navigating by the stars.

    “Neo-Ancient Hawaiians,” ethnic Hawaiians who allege to have some religious connection to Mauna Kea simply because of their bloodline, who make up false ceremonies and pretend that they are legitimate re-enactments of historical traditions, may in fact believe their own dogma, and consider any development in Hawaii as sacrilegious. But for the most part, the rabble rousers and “community organizers” that encourage this kind of victimhood mentality are only looking for a financial payoff for their blessing.

  6. Kama Aina Haole on 2/10/2009 at 4:36 pm said:

    Word to the wise before anyone else replies: Never argue with a fool, people won’t know the diffrence. I’m saddened you feel that way Jere, maybe you’ll get it someday – I’ll pray that you will. Aloha

    • I pray for you as well, Haole. You may one day be surprised to realize the truth of my words.

      Open your mind, and your heart just may follow.

  7. Secession is treason, because statehood trumps all other facts and prior treaty terms. Thus, the Commonwealth Of Puerto Rico can become independant, but parts of the State Of Hawaii cannot. This is President’s day, let’s honor Lincoln for making this absolutely clear. God bless the United States !

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