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My turn: Hawaiian day

Vinny Arciaga, Staff Writer

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While most people were sporting lei, grass skirts and floral shirts for Hawaiian Day, I wore all black. My reason? I opposed the idea of having “Hawaiian Day” as a theme for spirit week, because it’s a form of cultural appropriation.  I carried a sign saying “I wear black in memory of the lives and culture stolen by white businessmen during the illegal annexation of Hawaii in 1898. Say NO to cultural appropriation.”

In the 1890’s the United States planned overthrow the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom and prepared to provide for annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States of America, under a treaty of annexation, but that treaty was shot down. Years later, When President William McKinley took office in 1897, plans were made to ratify this treaty but it was unable to be ratified due to the petition and protests of Hawaiian Queen Lili’uokalani and 21, 169 Hawaiian nationals.

However, because of the Spanish-American war that was going on at the time, the United States was able to illegally annex Hawaii in order to use the islands as a military base. To learn a more in depth history of Hawaiian annexation, look up the Blount Report.

The same people who annexed Hawaii also suppressed Hawaiian culture, banning the Hawaiian language from schools and government, thus killing natives’ identity as Hawaiians and their Hawaiian culture. The language wasn’t brought back until 1978, and it wasn’t until United States tourism grew for the allowance of Hawaiian culture to be acceptable again.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture. So when we wear all of these lei and grass skirts, most people don’t know the history that the native Hawaiians went through to be able to be themselves, culturally. Although the theme isn’t directly meant to harm the natives, I think it was poor thinking for us, as a school in the continental United States, to go with a Hawaiian theme. Instead of Hawaiian theme, maybe a better idea could have been “Beach Day”.

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