Monday, June 7, 2010


ADJECTIVAL OBJECTIONISM: One of the most unintentionally hilarious things we’ve seen in a long time was a press release- picked up by the local newspaper yesterday- announcing that:

Kaua`i Nonviolent Communication will soon host its first ever “conscious community dialogue” to answer the often controversial question: “What does it mean to be ‘haole’ in Hawai`i?”

But the funny part was that:

The event aims to attract white, or “haole,” residents of Kaua`i in particular, but welcomes the participation of Kauians (sic) of all ethnic backgrounds

So let’s see- apparently a bunch of haoles want to talk to other haoles because they’ve got their panties in a bunch over being haoles.

First off let’s get something straight here- there’s the word “haole” and then there’s the term “stupid f—ing haole” and there’s a world of difference between the two.

The former- a moniker we proudly wear- is simply descriptive and used in the local culture in describing. originally anything foreign or introduced but nowadays, a white/Caucasian person. It has no inherent derogatory connotations any more than any of the other term used locally like Kepani, Pake, Portagee, Popolo and other terms used locally to describe culture and ethnicity.

Because so many people from so many places have congregated here local culture has less of a taboo against identifying one’s self and others by ethnicity. We think nothing of walking up to a person and asking “what are you” with no mal intent whereas on the mainland that question might get you punched in the nose.

It might be useful to look at the real definition of haole in the Pukui-Elbert English Hawaiian Dictionary:

White person, American, Englishman, Caucasian; American, English; formerly, any foreigner; foreign, introduced, of foreign origin, as plants, pigs, chickens; entirely white, of pigs.

And that bring us to the term “stupid f’ing haole which is usually well earned when mainlanders come over and don’t just refuse to adapt to local culture but try to force their cultural on those they meet.

And as if to emphasize this the some of the “comments” on the article in the paper could only come from stupid f’ing haoles.

Try this one from “Pohaku” who said.

"Ha'ole" is insulting. People who use it are racists. The translation means without Ha, in this case breath or Life. It was used to describe the officers on the first contact vessels, who wore powdered wigs and powdered their faces as part of dressing in their finery to meet the chiefs of the islands that they visited. These pale, powdered officers looked to be without breath or life to the Hawaiians.
We don't dress that way now. Many whites have "Ha" in a way now that many Hawaiians have lost.

This “ha ole” nonsense is the epitome of S-F’ing haole behavior. There is no truth whatsoever for this theory of the derivation of the word yet it’s used by people who have taken offense at the term because of their mainland cultural bias and made up some kind of explanation that now permeates haole S-F’ing cultural rumor mill.

On the other hand “ricanvegan” said something that rings true

Being ha'ole means putting together seminars like this.

Although (s)he uses the wrong spelling (using the `okina) and fails to say it’s the S-F haole that organizes seminars to figure out what only interaction can inform, it does bring up the right way-wrong way to avoid “makin’ A” and being tagged with the S-F label.

So how can you avoid being a S-F haoles? Essentially the same way you avoid being a "damn Yankee" in the south or one of those "damn California people" in Montana with the knowledge that local Kaua`i culture has grown from a multi-cultural rather than a uni-cultural base.

The methodology is no different here than it is in coming into any place where a different culture is present.

S-F haoles have an attitude of the superiority of their culture often times unconscious because well, that’s the way Americans are. They’d do better to approach individuals as they would anyone else who they seek to befriend.

If you approach people with a genuine interest in the way they do things they will reciprocate in kind. If instead if you tell the person of your culture with an attitude of “this how it’s done the ‘right’ way” you will quickly be seen for what you are- a S-F haole

Don’t assume everyone here has it in for you because you are a haole and don’t assume it is an insult when the term is used or you will quickly become a S-F haole.

Be a member of the community that’s here- don’t build one of your own in isolation. Local people have a tradition of sharing and being friendly. Get to know your neighbor and don’t be critical of what they do just because you don’t do it.

Don’t put up a no trespassing sign and a locked gate. Don’t honk at people in traffic. Smile at people and make eye contact. maybe with a little head nod, in the supermarket- even say “hi” sometimes.

And don’t forget that taking pride in your culture and ethnicity doesn’t mean foisting it on others. Try to become aware of when you’re doing it. People like sharing their culture as much as you do and will be happy to respect yours if you respect theirs. Eventually you both will come to celebrate both without pushing one on the other.

Then, when you’re sitting around and people start talking about S-F haoles they will turn to you and say “oh, not you”.

Then you will know you are simply haole and once you embrace that you will start calling people stupid f’ing haoles yourself.


Katy said...

Hi Andy:

I can't resist commenting on this post.

Let's not forget the class dimension of this issue. When I lived on Kaua'i it seemed like most local resentment was rightly directed at wealthy haoles who exercise their power to buy and sell property at inflated prices, create unwanted TVRs in established residential neighborhoods, block beach access, and exploit local working people. These activities, far more than just arrogant behavior and bad manners, have a direct, material impact on the working-class.

On the other hand, I observed that working class haoles from the continent had an easier time making friends and getting connected to the local working class community because of a lack of class antagonism and a common experience of the challenges of making a living and supporting a family. (However, because of the prohibitively high cost of moving to Kaua'i, most haole transplants are decidedly NOT working class.)

Of course, no matter where a person moves, especially if it is from a large metropolitan area to a small, rural community, it makes sense to be humble and friendly and not arrogant, if you want to make lasting friends in your new community. This seems like common sense and anyone so tone-deaf that they don't get this is beyond help.

But the bigger question here is a fundamental one of capitalism that can't be solved through so-called "non-violent communication" - and this is simply that the working class and the owning class have nothing in common. They never have and they never will.

In my opinion, a more accurate definition of the "divide" on Kaua'i would be the local and haole elite vs the local and haole working class.

I hope the workshop in question can go beyond the absurd "non-violent communication" frame and start actually organizing around the class struggle on Kaua'i. This includes the fight against TVRs and for access to clean water, beaches, and fishing; the fight for self-determination for Native Hawaiians; the fight against budget cuts to education and public services; the fight for housing, health care, and decent public transportation; the fight against oppression, and the fight against war and imperialism - to name just a few arenas.

Sorry to all the "NVC"-types for using such a scary word, but the class struggle IS a fight, and the most "stupid, f-ing" thing we can do is pretend we can workshop our way through it.

FactCheck said...


Clayton Bigsbee lives.

Kimber said...

Thank you Andy and Katy!!!

It all seems so logical...but then some of us can blend into the island culture, or most any culture, really, while others are best just staying for a visit, because they will NEVER "get it".

To me it seems to be a stubborn, insecure, ego based resistance, and an awkwardness in blending because of the need to charactoristically display "class" position, and this, of course, shores up the SFH barrier.

There is no use for pretensiousness on such small islands, it is so simple...leave it behind... The need for heavy make-up, fake finger nails, and the inability to appear relaxed, easy going, and physically "honest" are also marked ways many haoles fail to blend into the island culture... Phoney does not cut it. For some of us it seems so easy, for others, Kauai will never feel like home...(and therefore should not be) The island's `ohana feel is alive and well for those who welcome it!!! Embrace the culture, and it will embrace you!