Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Pledge Allegiance

On 9/11 our Nation was in distress. We had been attacked without even being aware that we were under siege. A total surprise. But our flag was still standing. 

Hawaii awoke in the early morning to the news and like the rest of the world we watched as the events played out live on our televisions. As the week wore on Flags began to appear on the back windows of trucks, waving from antennas and pinned to clothing. Though the United States flag was not upside down our nation was, indeed, in distress.

 I am reminded during Hawaii's 50th statehood celebration of a time when Hawaiians too started to display their flag as a nation under siege. Store bought flags and little pins created to take advantage of ones patriotism during 9/11 were easy enough to attain. But I am not sure how many quilts were created in display of one's love for their country.

The quilt that is shown above is one of the treasures of "The Bishop Museum." It once belonged to Hawaii's last Queen, Liliuokalani, who was dethroned by US big business. In the late 1800's Hawaiians realized that their islands were slipping out of their hands. Quilts, such as the one above started to appear. 

 People started hanging quilts on four posters above beds so that they could say they  slept and awoke under their flag. 

If you notice on the quilt, the four outer flags display an intact canton. But the inside flags show the canton upside down. This particular quilt was sewn during a time when the queen had been imprisoned and the Hawaiian flag was forbidden to fly by the Provisional Government that had taken over the islands. 

Now if you were one of the flag waving Americans that appeared as the Towers went down you well know the feeling of someone trying to take away your country. This is exactly what the Hawaiian people felt as they stood powerless against a crafty, cunning and scheming group of men who had successfully managed to overthrow their Queen. 

The Hawaiian people never wanted to be annexed but for the wishes of their Queen they did not rebel. They remained peaceful and ever hopeful that the islands would be returned back to their Queen. But President McKinley  signed the Annexation Treaty and  although ordered to revert to her married name of Lydia Dominis, she was still the Queen to her people and together they protested the Annexation.

In this day of sound bites, and spinning the news, when you see people of Hawaii talking about the delightfulness of becoming part of the United States,  ask yourself just who are these people and would the Hawaiians rather be pledging their allegiance to their own flag as  their quilts indicated or did they truly want to become americans as the spin doctors of the provisional government contested?

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Ugly American

I was a dumb Mexican. A Wet Back and not good enough to play with the red headed girl across the street. I was not allowed to join the Blue Birds an off shoot of the Girl Scouts. Nor was I invited in to many of my friends houses.  

This is me, a little girl at a birthday party sitting next to Tommy, the Birthday boy who was my best friend. You could say the seat of honor. And yet his mother thought nothing of picking me up at my house to go and visit him one evening and then leaving me in her car in the dark while she went into her friends house for hours to perm her hair. I was probably not good enough to be invited in. And their I sat, obediently, looking longingly for her to return so that we could continue on, so that I could play with Tommy.

I show my childish grinning photo to make a point. As far back as I can trace, my family came from Spain and settled in New Mexico by way of Mexico. Not recent immigrants they had been in New Mexico when it was a territory, then a state. As far as I know they had been there from the 1600’s. 

From New Mexico they moved to Colorado where my parents moved to California. I am surely an American. I pledged the flag every day, stood no matter when the National Anthem played even on the TV. I was taught to hate the Indians. I always wanted to be a blue blooded Cowboy. Davy Crocket was my hero because he fought at the Alamo. I  even believed that the Hawaiians were lucky to become part of the United States, after all they would be able to have all the modern conveniences  that All Americans had.

But as this grinning little girl, I endured much. Name Calling, rejection and hatred. I wanted to be like the little red headed girl or the blond with ringlets. Surely I would have been a much better person had I been. I held it against my father for having brown eyes even though his half brothers and mother had blue. I surly was defective. And because of this I never really felt like a true American.

Here I am today, still trying to come to terms with who I am and having much empathy for those who are the underdog. My eyes are wide open now. My mind has expanded, and though there are many things I don’t like about America, I am an American, through and through. Through all these experiences it is my responsibility to make sure that I can take my past and make it work for the future. Change the ugly in The Ugly American to The Beautiful, the kind and The Non Judging One.

I’m not dumb, my family never snuck across the Rio Grand and though I would never deny it if I was, I am not Mexican. I am an American of Spanish decent. And for those of you who don’t know the difference then the pot is calling the kettle black. Dumb indeed.

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Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather
It feels good to be free

Fourth of July in Waikiki

Fourth of July in Waikiki
Early morning view just kicking back

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Do you want to know about Hawaii from a locals point of view? Where do we like to go? What things do we like to see. This blog is about seeing Hawaii without being trapped. This is a journal about Good eats, Hawaiian events, and looking at the islands through the eyes of someone who has lived here for more then forty years.

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