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Posts tagged Hawai'i

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In the 1990s, Japanese sumo wrestling was fairly popular in Hawai’i. I don’t mean that sumo leagues cropped up around the state, but rather that we cared about professional sumo in Japan. The local news would even carry results from the major tournaments.

The reason was that several sumo wrestlers from the state were having success in Japan. The most notable of the lot were Konishiki, Akebono, and Musashimaru, and the latter two became the first two foreign-born wrestlers to reach the sport’s highest rank of yokozuna. We were really proud of what they were able to accomplish.

So anyway, here’s Konishiki rapping with Layzie Bone from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony on “Livin’ Like Kings,” off the 2000 album KMS.

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YouTube user islandnites uploaded this video:

Very old Hawaiian black and white film featuring early surfing footage - “KOLOHE BOY” (‘ukulele) performed by Steve Racoosin. Most likely a composite film - a little from the middle “teens” perhaps thru early “20’s” as viewers who know something about this time period in Hawaii have noted in comments.

I certainly never climbed palm trees as a kid.

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Racism in Hawaii. It needs to be discussed.

Today’s a heavy reading kind of day.


Okay, okay. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and I need to get this out because I feel that it’s important to explain, even if nobody is probably going to read it. So bear with me.

It is a common (mis)perception that Hawaii is racist “against” haoles*/white people.

*”Haole” is a Hawaiian language term that is best translated as “foreigner” or “outsider”. It could be contrasted with the term “malihini” which is often translated as “newcomer” or “visitor”. “Haole” has some modern racial connotations but was not, to my understanding, originally limited to people of Caucasian ethnicity. In my experience of the modern understanding, it both has a descriptive connotation (in other words, analogous to “white” but not necessarily with racist overtones, or representative of certain specific cultural characteristics associated with mainlanders/foreigners/white people, such as entitled attitude, brash or loud modes of expression, “touristy” portrayals/understandings of Hawaii, or simply being very ignorant of local culture.

This is true…. ish. It is, however, not taking into account many bits of context that, while not justifying individual behavior, set Hawaii’s “anti-white racism” against a backdrop of privilege and colonialism that negates any oppression implied by racism.

Let’s start with privilege. For those of you who are not aware, the sociological/social justice world uses the term “privilege” to define ways which participating in a certain social class (e.g., race, gender, heteronormative/cisnormative status, able-bodied-ness, socio-economic class, etc.) provides intrinsic social benefits not offered to people of a different class. It is often defined on an “axis of oppression” - that is, there is one (or sometimes several) class at the top of the metaphorical food chain and others on the bottom.

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Race relations in Hawai’i are weird compared to the rest of the United States, and this is a really long and good read on how and why this state came to be.

To go off on a tangent, one topic keakealani doesn’t cover is local humor, which largely comprises racial stereotypes. I’m being extremely loose with ethnology there, but there’s kind of an agreement among the “constituent Hawai’ian races”—native Hawai’ian, Filipino, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Caucasian, etc.—that we can all tell racist jokes about each other and all have a good laugh.

Local comedians like Frank De Lima have built careers on this sort of material. Jokes are traded with friends at work and get-togethers. You can even hear them on the radio.

On a personal level, I grew up idolizing De Lima, and I could recite many of his skits and songs from memory. (I probably still can.) I have distinct memories of trading jokes during elementary school. And members of my family, to this day, occasionally refer to doing boneheaded things as having a “Portagee moment.”

But it’s never done with any sort of malice. Was a person ever offended if I told a joke that applied to them? Probably not; far more likely, they would tell one right back that applied to me. We’d even tell jokes about ourselves. The popular sentiment is that it’s how we people of widely different origins deal with our differences.

So the question is, does that make it okay? If it’s all in the name of camaraderie and there’s no visible harm, then is there still a problem?

As someone who was born and raised in that culture, I have a really hard time answering “no” to the first question or “yes” to the second. I was there! I saw the laughs!

But as someone who now knows vaguely about such things as stratification, I have a hard time accepting that it should be okay.

In Vol. 30, No. 1 of the University of Hawai’i Law Review (winter 2007 issue), Karyn R. Okada wrote a piece titled “An Analysis of Hawai’i’s Tradition of ‘Local’ Ethnic Humor.” In section V, she analyzes the connotations of the common stereotypes levied against various races and some very real discrimination and inequality in the state that they reinforce:

On an individual level, evidence of harm inflicted by the racist messages conveyed in local humor is quite prevalent. Scholars have noted that amongst the local Filipino population, for example, feelings of self-doubt and shame of cultural background are especially prevalent.

This is all some very difficult stuff I haven’t figured out how to deal with yet.

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Hawaiian Islands are dissolving, study says

Brigham Young University press release:

Someday, Oahu’s Koolau and Waianae mountains will be reduced to nothing more than a flat, low-lying island like Midway.

But erosion isn’t the biggest culprit. Instead, scientists say, the mountains of Oahu are actually dissolving from within.

According to the researchers’ estimates, the net effect is that Oahu will continue to grow for as long as 1.5 million years. Beyond that, the force of groundwater will eventually triumph and the island will begin its descent to a low-lying topography.

You all better get your sightseeing done now before it’s too late!

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Well we really hope you’ve enjoyed this NS at 1,000 Hawai’ian Music Celebration Extravaganza and Potluck. ‘Ili and I would like to thank our readers for doing all that reading that you do. I know it’s hard to read more than 140 characters at a time these days but, really, we appreciate it.

Play us off, Jon & Randy, with the beautiful “Hawai’ian Eyes”.

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Gabby Pahinui is widely loved as one of the fathers of Hawai’ian music. As both a solo musician and a member of the Sons of Hawaii, his mix of slack-key guitar and traditional Hawai’ian songs was majorly influential on many who would follow. So that’s why we’re posting him twice! That and how he’s awesome, of course.

This is an old recording I’ve never heard before, “Wai O Ke Aniani.”

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In 1946, Gabby Pahinui recorded what may have been the first slack key guitar record, “Hi’ilawe”. Here he is performing it in the documentary “Slack Key & Other Notes”, which is sadly apparently not for sale.

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"Drop Baby Drop" is one of the gems of Hawai’ian contemporary pop. Released in 1995, it’s received steady airplay ever since. If you tune in to KINE 105.1 FM you’ll almost certainly hear it within the hour.

Here’s The Mana’o Company — who make a pleasant mix of Hawaiian, reggae, and R&B — performing the song live in 2010. (Don’t miss the somewhat awkward dancing by the crowd.)

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There sadly doesn’t appear to exist that much footage of the late, great Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, at least on YouTube. He died in 1997, just narrowly missing the age where everything that ever happens is recorded and uploaded to the internet.

A big exception are Iz’s performances in the Hot Hawaiian Nights series of concerts. There’s even a DVD collecting these for the die-hard fans. One of the songs he performed, along with Roland Cazimero and Mel Amina, was “Panini Pua Kea.”