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White like me

September 6, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

As told by a drunk Hawaiian

Haole (pronounced: How-leh) = A mythical creature with no soul

White = Haole

Haole = A white person with no soul on MY island

 

As told by a sober Canadian who has lived on Kauai for 4 years

Haole = White

White = Ignorant

Ignorant = Ni**er

Haole = White Ni**er

“Hey Iowa!” Our pace quickened. “Where you boys from?” It was obvious they were drunk. “Hey you!” We spun around. There were six of them, all smoking directly outside of the only bar in walking distance of our condo that didn’t charge $10 for a drink. “Santa Cruz,” we shot back. “Seriously?” Their puffed up chests deflated a bit. “No wetsuits here bra! No more looking like seals.” Then they lost interest as we continued to walk away. The $4 beers were safe for another night.

My first day on the Island of Kauai was the worst. I was backing out of an extremely tight parking space my friend had squeezed into, when there was a load smack on my drivers side window. Stunned I turned around to find myself just a few centimeters away from a squat 300 pound Samoan.

“What the hell are you doing here!” He blurted out. My hands gripped the wheel as I quickly scanned the lot for help. “I’m trying to get out and you stupid guys are all in the way!” He turned and started walking back towards his truck. “Go Home!” he blurted out as he flailed his arms. My heart continued to pound. If I had been bigger, say not the 5’ 6” 170lb scrawny kid I was, I might have pointed out he was the problem trying to back out of a one way entrance, but instead I just sat there and wondered how many blows of his fist it would take to meet my maker. I decided on two if I could duck the first one.

After the first day on our trip we didn’t have any problems except for the occasional barrage of verbal abuse that would fly out of a few testosterone filled males. Mostly we stuck to the few tourist areas and kept ourselves from making a commotion. But it got me wondering just what it must feel like to not be white on the mainland. From a young age I’ve been told that I—a white middle class male—was the reason the world is going to hell. In college I paid for classes that berated my race, made me feel guilty for every one of my previous ancestors and ultimately ended with a video explaining why every person that is white is racist. It drove me wild.

And then I went to Hawaii and got a new perspective and a new question. Why is it that racism on Hawaii seems to be OK. “It’s just the way it is,” one local told us. “I’ve lived here for twenty years tending bar and they still won’t consider me a local,” another transplanted tan “local” explained. “I wouldn’t go to that bar/restaurant/beach/part of town, if I were you,” we kept being told. “It’s just not safe.”

Obviously it’s a select few making a majority of the trouble, and 95% of the locals we encountered were kind generous folks, but I still can’t shake the idea that it’s just assumed if you go to Hawaii you will be berated, called ignorant and soulless. I understand Kauai, our Island of choice, is the most undeveloped island, and that mainly low-key honeymooners and couples visit the attractions, but does this give the locals the right to bite the hand that feeds them?

Chalk up most of these feelings from two bad experiences, which really weren’t all that bad, but bad enough to get me thinking.

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Categories: Travel, Uncategorized
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