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Who is Alyssa Meredith? I know a lot of angry Hawaiians who might want to have a little chit chat with her after what she posted on Facebook. It’s not quite on the same level of humor as the Sh*t People from Hawaii Say video, which makes fun of our menpachi-loving locals; in fact, it’s not humorous at all. It’s straight racist. And as a Native Hawaiian myself, it wouldn’t be pono if I didn’t write about this.
What looks like a screenshot compilation of her status updates, Alyssa makes several harsh remarks against Hawaiians and its culture, without giving them a second thought. Sure, there’s the First Amendment Freedom of Speech right, but maybe she should get her facts straight before making a fool of herself all over the web.
If you haven’t already seen this on Facebook, let’s start with Alyssa’s very first remark against Hawaiians:
“Such long names are silly. Silly Hawaiians. What does it mean? “He Who Got the Pineapple from the Other Village Chief?”
To answer your question, Alyssa, our long “silly” names have much more meaning than that, and just because you can’t pronounce them correctly doesn’t mean you can bash them to make up for your lack of knowing. The names possess a great amount of importance to Hawaiians, some of which have been passed down from ancient times by their families. So when you call these names “silly,” you’re offending a long lineage of Hawaiians, not just one. In fact, I’m pretty sure you offended an entire race. Good job.
She doesn’t stop there. She went on labeling Hawaiians as “N*gger Hawaiian pineapple picking slaves” and continued with more crude accusations like, “I’m not drunk and passed on a beach like a Hawaiian” or “They are black-skinned, stupid sh*ts. Not all niggars are from Africa.” It makes my stomach turn just writing this, so I’ll stop there.
Apparently, there are dozens of Alyssa Merediths on Facebook, so it’s difficult to tell who posted it. One of my friends said she’d add all of the Alyssa Merediths as a friend until she found the correct one. And then give her a piece of her mind. It very well could be someone using a pseudo name, just trying to stir up the pot, but either way, somebody wrote this and whether they mean it or not, it’s hateful language. And in this day and age, a lack of tolerance like this, whether it be fictional or not, is disgustingly outrageous. They got their response, whoever they were and for whatever goal or purpose.
Last I heard, “Alyssa” might have deactivated her account. And I wouldn’t blame her; I’d be afraid of an entire race coming after me! For now she can only hide out in her virtual world, too afraid to take responsibility for such nasty, uneducated nonsense. Who’s “stupid” now?
It seems that this blog post has hit a nerve. Along with the comments below, we’ve received phone calls that ask us to remove the post as offensive. We agree that racist comments are offensive, but negotiating cultural and ethnic difference is part of life in Hawaii. It’s also part of an ongoing conversation here at Hawaii-aloha.com. We have answered fears that visitors would be unwelcome “haoles”. We’ve remarked that Hawaii is different from other states because no one ethnicity is a majority. We’ve reminded you that living in Hawaii does not make you Hawaiian and that even among Hawaiians, there are different opinions about who qualifies But there are significant differences in the exchange below.
Most of us who live in Hawaii, and most those of you who hope to visit, find the variety of local skin tones and accents to be part of the colorful panorama of these islands. We joke about difference but from an attitude of love that transcends mere tolerance. That’s the first difference that is mentioned in the response below: the attitude is hostile. It could be commenting about height, weight or hair color – the tone creates much of the offense.
Other differences might not be as obvious to non-islanders. Comments like the ones in the original post are taken personally. As noted before, many locals proudly claim mixtures of many races even where it is not visible. And in these small islands, no one is really anonymous, either. We know one another, or at least someone’s auntie or uncle or cousin. Negative comments aren’t just “generic”, they insult real people we know and love. Comments in the original article also offend anyone who loves these islands (as can be seen in the comments) not just those who might be specified.
If there is a positive aspect of the exchange, it might be the reminder that respect for the host culture is the first part of being a responsible visitor. No place welcomes those who disparage it. (That is true of people who move to the islands as well.) No matter where you travel, you are a guest in someone’s home. The first thing to pack is a spirit of aloha. If you bring that, you’ll leave with a smile in your soul.
Bruce Fisher, Publisher