Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou (And HAPA New Year)!

That's Hawai'ian, literally, for "happy, year, new".

Speaking of the islands, I always get a chuckle out of reading news stories about Hawai'i. Mostly written by mainlanders, the articles usually reflect the writers' unfamiliarity with things Hawai'ian. I have to admit that I, too, was surprised when I first moved to Honolulu over a decade ago. I guess I was expecting to see Native Hawai'ians running around in grass skirts and speaking their beautiful language that sounds of sea waves. Instead, what I found was Asians...lots of Asians. The Asian influence in Hawai'i is strong, yet they've also embraced Hawai'ian culture and managed to meld it with their own traditions; creating a unique blend of both--much like us multiracial folks.

It tickles me that AP contributors reporting about Obama vacationing in Kailua Oahu identified the city as being "close to downtown" when it's way over on windward side. They also wrote things like "SHAVED ICE" when everyone in Hawai'i says "SHAVE ICE". There's a loose national language operating over there--a blend of Hawai'ian, Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Tagalog, Portuguese, English, etc. "all mix up" and spit out in a special way. I find it very similar to speaking to my mother who didn't arrive in the U.S. until she was 33, lived in segregated Richmond Texas for two years, then Germany for three. By the time, she had any opportunity to learn standard English, she was too busy working and raising two daughters. When I talk to my mom, it's like she has her own language.

Mom: "We go store now? I go buy green onion for natto."
Me: "Well...I was watching Atsuhime..."
Mom: "You not want to?"
Me: "Oh, all right."
Mom: "You no have to go."
Me: "I'll go. I'll go."

When I was a lot younger and living in our all white neighborhood devoid of immigrants, other kids upon meeting my mother would rudely state in front of her, "I can't understand what she's saying." While living in Hawai'i, I often thought how much easier it would've been for her had my father been stationed there instead of Ft. Lewis. But at Ft. Lewis, she had all her Japanese warbride girlfriends and they spoke rapid Japanese whenever they gathered for a lively game of hanafuda. I remember hanging around the table hoping to pick up on what they were saying until my mom would shoo me away.

But I digress. In case you aren't aware, biracial actress/singer/dancer Earth Kitt died last week. You may be too young to remember, but Ms. Kitt was banished from the White House when she told Lady Bird Johnson that the U.S. should not be in Vietnam. For years afterwards, Kitt was forced to eke out a career overseas as she was blacklisted and investigated by the FBI and CIA. Still, she persevered and enjoyed many successes throughout her life. Even though she started out working in the cotton fields of South Carolina, Kitt became an entertainer after she moved in with an aunt and attended the High School of Performing Arts in New York. The child of a black/Cherokee mother and white father, Kitt was a victim of One Drop Rule--unable to proclaim her multiracial heritages in a mono-racial world. She was 81.

On to something sunnier. It appears that the film Watermelon Sushi is making some progress lately. Besides the addition of Associate Producer Derrick Holmes of Tokyo, we've recently welcomed playwright Jaz Dorsey of Nashville into the circle also as an Associate Producer. Both men are aggressively clearing a path to production dollars, so stay tuned in '09 to see how far we travel. And, we're still selling Hapa*Teez t-shirts to help fund the film. If you haven't bought one yet, check out the newly added designs at:

Remember, if you've made a purchase, contact us to make sure we have your name for the rear crawl credits:

That's Chinese/Korean/American Scott Lee in the photo above toasting with tea at our favorite restaurant in Hawai'i. And, that's me in the photo here celebrating a new year in Germany. I wish I could remember who our family friends are in the pix with me, but it's been awhile. I think the African American sistah's name was Betty.

In closing, I wish you and yours omedetto gozaimasu, hau'oli makahiki hou and a HAPA new year!

Your Hip Hapa,

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