Why being from Hawai'i does NOT mean that you're Hawai'ian.

So I'm browsing around facebook and I stumble across a group that I had skimmed through briefly last year, only to overlook it, and completely forget about it until just now. The group's name: Why do all mainland people think that ALL people from Hawai'i are Hawai'ians?

After having looked through it again, re-reading some posts from Haoles (white people) as they argue against the Hawai'i people, comparing being Hawai'ian to being a Washingtonian or Californian or Texan; I immedietely became extremely irritated and regretted to even putting myself through such ignorance.

I remember the first time I became aware that such confusion between being Hawai'ian and being from Hawai'i existed when I moved to Seattle for the first time to attend UW back in the Fall of 2001. Back home, you say you're Hawai'ian, people know you're talking about blood. In fact, Hawai'ian is the only ethnicity which houses this confusion. People from the states would say stuff like, "You're from Hawai'i too? Wow, there's a lot of Hawai'ians up here!", and I'd say, "Not really...There's probably about 4, maybe 5 of us that I know of." They would then proceed to point to a nearby group of Asians and say, "But there's a bunch of Hawai'ians over there", to where, I'd reply, "You mean those Japanese kids from Hawai'i? They're not Hawai'ian."
"But aren't they from Hawai'i?"
"Yeah, but that doesn't make them Hawai'ian."

From there, I'd usually get one of two reactions: either they'd look back with complete confusion or they'd look at me as if I was retarded and I didn't know what I was talking about.

But hey, fair enough. Unfortunately, because of the media, most people outside of Hawai'i really don't know much outside of, "Hey do you dance hula? Do you surf? Can you play the 'ukulele (theyd' pronounce it "yuku-laylay)? I love Don Ho!"

So I'd just explain it to them with this analogy:
"If a black guy comes from Japan, would you say, 'Look at that Japanese guy over there?'"
They'd reply, "No, of course not, because Japanese is an actual ethnicity."
And I'd tell them, "Yes, just like Hawai'ian is an actual ethnicity. Hawai'i only became a state in '59, a territory in 1893, and hundreds and hundreds of years before that, it was it's own country with it's own native people."
"Oh, cool. I didn't know that."
And usually that's enough for them to understand (well, for the brown people at least) and the topic of conversation would end there.

But then I started to meet these other people, who incidently are the ones with the irritatingly ignorant posts in the facebook group; the ones who still don't understand this concept even after hearing said analogy (or variations of it). They continue to relate being Hawai'ian to being Washingtonian and show no interest in learning more and/or incredible culture block. It then became obvious that these people don't even care about getting it right and all they care about is calling you what they feel comfortable with and are accustomed to; because when it was all said and done and everyone one of their Washingtonian arguments fell through, they resorted to saying "Well, it shouldn't be a big deal. All the people there grew up in Hawai'i, in the same culture, so it's pretty much the same thing. Just relax."

Honestly, the only real argument against us would be that technically, the real term for Hawai'ians is Kanaka Ma'oli and that the word "Hawai'ian" is a generic term started by Captain Cooke and his men. However, when Cooke first came up with this term, it only applied to the natives, so we'd really be back to square one with this argument.

These people just don't seem to get it. So here's the real explanation of why it's such a big deal and hopefully people will understand it more after reading this:

Because of colonialism, the number of Hawai'ians (%50 pure and over) in the world has dropped from over a million, in the 1700's, to presently below 10,000 (these numbers were taken in the 90's so I'm sure the number is much lower by now). But of course we're always gonna have people from Hawai'i "claiming" that their aunty's cousin's brother's mom's dog is Hawai'ian, thus making them Hawai'an too, all the while donning an Asian last name.

But we're not counting them and that's not the irritating part...This goes way deeper than names..

Census studies predict that by the year 2020, Hawai'ians will be an extinct ethnicity. These numbers were taken from a study done while making the documentary, And Then There Were None. The documentary went on to explain that Hawai'ians are the most homeless ethnicity and suffer from the most third world diseases, per capita, in the US...ALL BECAUSE OF COLONIALISM. Imagine if, when white people were raping, killing, spreading diseases, and kicking Native Americans off their land, there were NO reservations to go to; then you'd have Hawai'i. So at least Native American's had something to go to, even if it was a reservation.

So excuse me for being proud of my endangered blood (especially when I'm one of the few lucky enough to still have a Hawai'ian last name) and for getting irritated as you haoles go around labeling anyone who's anyone a Hawai'ian. Shouldn't you see the error in your ways if even non-Hawai'ians are getting upset over all of this as well?

It's like...say if Ethiopia (or any other country for the matter, you fill in the blank), one day, somehow becomes the 51st state and over a century and a half, through routine US "nation building tactics", there became just one Ethiopian left in the world. Now let's say that a bunch of haoles and Asians just so happened to pass through Ethiopia on their way to the US only to arrive on American soil to be now called "Ethiopians" by these culture oblivious white Americans. "They came from Ethiopia, right? They gotta be Ethiopian!"

Wouldn't you think that this last Ethiopian would be pissed?! He'd be like, "Mother freckle, WTF are you talking about?! Those people aren't Ethiopian!! I'm Ethiopian!! Those people just came from Ethiopia!! First you kill my people, then you take my land, now you take the only remaining identifying thing I have left and can be proud of?! My ethnicity?! And what's worst is that you don't care!! Fuck you!!"

Add to that, the fact that the US Marines (without the consent of President Cleveland) in 1893 (back when Hawai'i still was a monarchy) held our Queen hostage in her own palace for a number of days until she signed over Hawai'i to the US; then you would kinda understand why people are pissed off.

But in the end, I guess we do have to be a little bit more patient with these haoles because, for the most part, white Americans (not all; mainly the ignorant ones who don't understand this concept no matter what you say) don't really or can't really grasp the concept of culture; because, as harsh as it sounds, they have none. Look at what's deemed as "American" culture: hot dogs, french fries, pizza, burgers...I mean, make a list of anything you think "American culture" is and it's practically a list of stuff stolen from other cultures. Hot dogs and burgers are from Germany, pizza's from Italy, french fries are from Belgium; the only true "American culture" I could think of is sports, oppression, and capitalism. So I guess it makes sense that haoles in the states have a hard time showing compassion and comprehending the concept of culture outside of "their own".

Like I said, not all haoles are like this. For the most part, those who don't understand the difference between being Hawai'ian and being from Hawai'i seem to be the haoles who are so self richeous in their American existence that they think that different cultures stem from America instead of consolidate in it. These are the people who, instead of wanting to learn about the culture and accepting it for what it is, choose to set their minds on what the culture is "supposed to be" according to them and feel that someone else's culture must be explained, approved, and answer to them, only to get into a "debate" that shouldn't be even present in the first place.

It's like knowing nothing about math, going up to a mathematician and starting a debate on why you'd rather say "1+1=11" than "1+1=2". Sure you've got some coherence in your arguments and you're speaking in complete sentences, but THAT'S JUST NOT THE WAY IT IS and you end up crossing the line from wanting to learn about our culture into just being irritating by telling us how it's supposed to be and should be just because you can't understand it.

And that's why people from Hawai'i get irritated when you go around calling anyone from Hawai'i, "Hawai'ian".