Monday, March 16, 2009

MY Political Views: Part I, The Birth

My father was born during the depression era. Hawai'i was still a Territory of The United States and not yet a state. This small period of time between Hawai'i being a kingdom, Hawai'i forced into submission to the United States, and Hawai'i becoming the 50th state, was crucial in effectively raising a generation of fully assimilated American citizens. Plainly stated, the United States needed a way to turn na kanaka** into colonized citizens of America. They needed to be "de-culturalized".

Upon statehood in 1959, my father became a naturalized citizen and when he turned 18, was required to register with the Selective Service. Somewhere in those first 18 years of life, my fathers need to BE Hawaiian or to have a connection with his ancestral culture, was effectively, unconsciously stripped from him. Of course, this is my opinion as an outsider looking in and I own that! Coming out of the Depression Era, the American Dream seemed an ideal and a worthy goal. This further separated my father from his ancestral roots. It made it easier to step away from preservation of culture and into a fully, assimilated American lifestyle with the promise of American prosperity.

When I was child, my father told me that he didn't give any of us ethnic names because he wanted us to "look good on paper". He wanted judgement of our accomplishments to be based on our work and not a negative pre-judgement based on our name. I can't argue with that. Parents do what they think is best for their children. Obviously, he is a product of his era.

In contrast, my mother is not an American. Even today, in her 60th year of life, she refuses to become a citizen of this country. She tells the story of how the Board of Health interviewed her prior to her marriage to my father. They implied that she was marrying my father to easily become a U.S. Citizen and gain all the rights and priviledges that come with it. She was offended and since the occasion has had no desire for citizenship. With pride, her allegiance belongs to Samoa! Also, in order to lay claim to her ancestral plot of land in Samoa, she must remain a citizen of her mother-country.

She is on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum in terms of culture. Her first language is NOT English. Her values, her morals, her standards are purely non-American. The protocol in which she subscribes to derives from her very Samoan upbringing. She has passed many of these ideals on to me. I am surprised, at times, at how similar I am to my mother.

This is part of the heritage from which I come from. I have two seperate ideals; that of my father - the de-culturalized Hawaiian and that of my mother - the staunch Samoan, and both worlds have crashed and formed a cataclysm called ME. Over the past 33 years of my life, my political views, the moral ethics I subscribe to continue to evolve but its foundation is based on the world my parents came up in.

**na kanaka: native people


Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much said...

HUh! Very interesting post. I didn't know that about your mom. . .not being a citizen and all. Does you dad feel the same today about not giving you and brother cultural names? Has his views of America changed? There is so much I didn't know about you and yet you were only next door!

Ui said...

Wow...way to go aunty lisi to stick it to the man! How fortunate you are to even have that. I know what you mean. But, even though your dad was forced to be de-culturalized, I can see how he was able to sustain certain aspects of his culture. Like the medicinal practices he passes on to you and Russ. BTW...I want to go with you guys next time you go. I wan to learn as well. I feel it is my duty to myself. Lol. But no...for realz...lemme know when u guys go.