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Showing posts from August, 2012

Black and White and Red All Over: Some Thoughts about Hawaii and Ambiguity

On the first day of classes, I took roll. I imagined it would be a straightforward "what is your name?", check the box, school lunch? And next? But the process became increasingly comical as I tried to match official names with Hawaiian names with nicknames. These kids exist as one person on their standardized test forms and birth certificates--Julies and Jaylyns and Isaiahs-- and appear embodied in my classroom with entirely different names: Kuuleimoani, Kamailekuponoaloha, Heleolanimainamaikai. And then the kids call each other clipped syllables: Tutu! OliBee!

So every morning when I mark attendance I have to know that a Jason Smith is actually Kuuleialoha Williams who I know as Kuu but who his grandmother calls Jay-boy. He's taken his mother's maiden name after the step-father left and shortened his middle name for school and is something else on the playground and here he is thirteen and juggling more identities than most people have until after their third caree…