Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Origins (inspired by JuDonn's TFA Diversity session)

O Leilani ko’u inoa, and I come from the ones forgotten
                            The ones who tried to forget
                    And the ones who savagely erased. 

 I come from those
                    whose bloodline dates back to  Maui and the Big Island
                Proud people with shark aumakuas,
          and stewards of ancient Hawaiian homelands
                  dotted with verdant greens from where echoes
        of mele and pule resonate like the drumbeats
                and heartbeats pulsing through history’s bones
        and coursing through my existence. 

But now I come from the chiefs of Wall Street
           tyrants whose eyes are closed and who foreclose
                          generations-old homes where grandmothers in slippahs and curlers
            stand over the stove that fill four walls with the scent of 
kalua cabbage, lau lau, and loco moco. 

             Love. For Sale.

                  I am from Ahawi, half of whose bloodline
walked on at Fort Knox during Nunna Daul Isunyi
              In this Trail of Needless Tears that spans from one generation to the other to the other to the other to the other, my bloodline became another--
deemed the other.

              Trickled down through the years,
              I am from the one who was stolen from the wide open spaces of the rez and into closed doors and suffocating walls of  boarding schools by missionaries who believe in the salvation of savages through a god who picks selectively the worthy through a singular word supposedly written in stone

                        I am from the one whose Native tongue is silenced because he wants to be a human being, not a savage

                    I am borne from the genocide of a people who existed long before time had a name
but now invisible and forced to prove their existence by a government who wants us to check one box this box what...categorization
all for federal dollars and recognition

and my shame...

                For I am also from the ones who savaged and ravaged and pillaged

It is my self-imposed and inherited  shame, my dishonour, my brokenness that
Coursing through my veins is the echo of colonization and subjugation, 
am also 
from those

who came to these lands on white-washed ships, bearing promises of salvation draped as blankets riddled with diseases. 

                                 I am from the borderlands of shame and pride,
                                             of hope and despair
Of being too much of different races and identities,
yet never enough of one

I am from “what are you?” and “if you had your father’s hazel eyes and your mother’s rosy skin, you would be beautiful” and racial ambiguity
                    I am from “Is Leilani an Arabic name?” post-911
                             “Are you Mexican?” post-Dream Act

I find it hard
To fully belong in a place other than the one I call my own

Mestizaness hapaness mixed-bloodedness
I belong to many tribes but at times feel alone in this
struggle to make sense of contradiction and duality

But still I try to navigate through these mazes in the hazes of faces layered across places and time

I am from the ones forgotten,
and so I remember

I am from the ones who tried to forget
and so I speak

I am from the ones who tried to erase
And so I see

I am from the Trail of Broken Treaties and annexations of a kingdom,
And so I stand here today and I speak
because though I come from history,
I am today,
eyes full of intent
shoulders straight
soul intact
heart full of hope and strength and fight
I am here
My people live on


We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl