Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Starting School

Brennen started at Washington Middle School last week Thursday, making two new friends. He's like that, I guess. Who wouldn't want to have him as a buddy.

Got some sad news on his third day, yesterday. When he went into one of his classes, a course in Japanese, the kids turned in his direction and quipped, "Hey, look, a Haole kid!"

Generally, this doesn't bother me. Being an islander myself, I'd heard it all. For Brennen, however, this was something new and quite foreign to him. It hurt his feelings and I couldn't help but feel for him. I had similar treatment when I moved to the continental USA.

I felt the anger, but I kept it to myself. No kid should have to hear something like that, no matter what their ethnicity. I guess we can thank adults for perpetuating this kind of stupidity.

Being Haole is no big deal, really. It's a fact of life. We are all different. Haole means "foreigner", and for some of the purists, was the name of an ancient, almost forgotten god who happened to be white (mind you, there are disagreements on this particular bit of knowledge), remember Captain Cook? and does not mean Caucasian. I mean, if you have to get literal. The old ones used the term Kanaka Palani for the concurrent term Haole. The young are somewhat limited in their history and knowledge of the language. You have to forgive them for that. I had to take a few mental steps back to forgive these waifs. I was just as guilty when that age.

Hawaii has its prejudices, all a result of its turbulent history. Being overtaken by a small group of plantation owners and business men in power made for some bad blood in those days. Too bad the later generations can't get over that. What's done is done. I wonder if it will ever be resolved. For now, I don't see it.

In the meantime, Brennen will have to toughen up. These ignorant kids will pass away, but if Brennen perseveres, he'll be just fine. Other kids like Brennen have done well. I see no reason Brennen can't do the same.

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