Showing posts from February, 2013

The Hawaiian Universe in the Parking Lot Thicket

Today I got to accompany my 7th-12th graders to a heiau restoration project. In the discussion amongst us teachers leading up to this excursion, we were warned that "he wahe kane." It's a man place, a makahiki games sight. I didn't know what to expect

As I picked up my walkie-talkie from the front office, the Hawaiian language teacher pulled me to the side with something like: "I na aia ia oe ka wailehua, a'ale pono e komo i ka heiau." I didn't understand-- he had to rephrase. "Ka waihooluu no ka lehua? Ka wai ulaula?" Ah. I finally got it. "Ma'i?" I answered. Monosyllabic and agrammitical,  as usual. He was telling me that, if I or the other women were on our periods, we were supposed to wait and not enter the heiau grounds.  The colorful idiom is "the water of the lehua blossom." Much more poetic than "auntie flow."

We piled all of the non-menstruating students (luckily all of them) into the vans and hea…

Okay but THIS makes it all better?

Aloha is Actually Terrifying

Aloha. Kokua. Malama. Pono. Ohana.

According to the sacred holy and untouchable image of Hawaiian culture that exists in the popular imagination both on island and around the world, native Hawaiians are healthy, ruddily righteous people. They honor their ancestors, protect their young, cultivate their taro. They respect the land and care for the poor. They remember their past but face the future with hopeful optimism. They are stewards of the land, spiritual conductors of otherworldly light, and grounded in the earthly reality of the soil. They are gentle giants, like Braddah Iz and his high pitched giggle and teensy Ukulele. They are carefree and generous surfers and dancers, quick to laugh, devout at church, comfortable on the back porch with kids tumbling all around.

It's a lovely image-- it appeals: the generous underdog, the happy Native.

This isn't just a set of images you see in pastel in-flight magazines. Of course the tourism industry benefits from this story. Come an…

Mahu: Maybe-Gay Kid Day!

Today at school, a 14 year old kid careened into his seat next to me, and announced non sequitur that his mom said that if he ever "turned gay," she would beat the gay out of him.

"So," he said, "That's it, I can never be gay! Nope, straight forever!"

Another boy chimed in and said his mom said the same. He acted it out: "Hey mom, I'm gay." "Oh yeah?? CRACK!!!" And he mimed a backhand across his imaginary face.

I wish classrooms came equipped with pause buttons.

In my still-frame classroom, I would have liked to consider the audience-- these are middle schoolers who still used "gay" as an insult until I made them stop, and so now they've switched to "retarded." I'm still working on that one...

I would like to have stopped, looked up the relevant legal issues. Hawaii public schools don't offer sex ed; am I even allowed to talk about issues relating to human sexuality? My informal policy has been, …