Arnold T. Hiura
Vol. 19. No. 1, Jan. 2, 1998

Kapakahi. vs. One-sided, crooked, lopsided, sideways; bent, askew; biased, partial to one side; to show favoritism. Lit., one side.

It was an intensely passionate time. A time when people felt things needed to change . . . and that they could change it. In many ways, they did. Passion within moved many across the country to march, sit-in, petition and say: “Stop the war!” “Save the earth!” and “We will overcome . . .”

There were fewer here than on the Mainland who did so. After all, what would the neighbors think. And the relatives. Shame, eh? Still, some did. Their voices rose higher, as if trying to make up for the quiet of others. “Stop H-3” “Save Waiahole-Waikane!” “Our History, Our Way!”

The passion soon permeated education, politics and the arts. People were searching, seeking answers, working for change.

Hawaii artists were no less affected. The arts, one successful nisei veteran of the political wars told me, remained the “last bastion” of haole superiority. No matter how many successes were recorded by local people of color in the fields of science, business, sports and politics, cultural superiority was still measured by white domination of the arts.

And so it grew. Sculptors and painters, musicians and dancers, actors and crafters drew from their respective ethnic backgrounds, grassroots Island heritage and their formal Western educations to make things wholly new. In time, their numbers grew.

There were fewer writers, or at least so it seemed. Here in Hawaii, there was no written tradition to draw from, or at least so it seemed. Renowned authorities spoke to the issue: Immigrants to the islands were farming peasants, largely illiterate, with no time to create a written literature of their own, they stated. Furthermore, Native Hawaiian culture relied on oral traditions, with no written literature. Thus it had been cast to visiting writers — all white — to create what literature there was of Hawaii.

To read the rest of this article, please subscribe to The Herald!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here