Kaohi: Why do I feel abused by this Open Letter to Kai Landow?

I am surely perplexed as to why at this hour of the night that I am not liking this letter!  It is so well written and say a lot of the things that I wish I said, or even thought to say openly to anyone.  Is it because I know Kai Landow and I don't know Maija Athena.  I wish it's pure jealousy, and that tomorrow--I will wake up to read it again with a greater degree of sisterhood!

Open letter to Kai Landow

by Maija Athena on Monday, April 2, 2012 at 8:49pm ·

April 2, 2012


Greetings Kai Landow,


It has recently come to my attention that you have accused me of working in conjunction with the State of Hawaii to assist in the disbandment of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and that I support the Akaka Bill.  Again, as I have asked you with your other paranoid claims and outright lies, where is your proof?  And how dare you attack me and make such egregious, ugly and false claims against me when you have no proof. Your only basis for these claims are:  One, I have dared to question your legitimacy and your authority as our indigenous representative, when you are neither indigenous nor believe in the concept of indigeneity in Hawaii.  And two, while I have never questioned whether Hawaii is an occupied nation, I have questioned whether this is the best narrative to pursue in trying to realize our sovereignty in the international community, especially as I read more about the process of decolonization.  Although you continue to attack the fact that I am pursuing higher education with your patronizing, condescending, and downright embarrassing use of Hawaiian pidgin, implying that I am an “uppity” Hawaiian because I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to a good university,  I believe it is my duty as a Hawaiian to educate msyelf as much as possible on this subject.  I also believe it is my duty to question your undemocratically acquired authority and what I perceive as your neo-Colonial agenda, including the continued colonial tactic of divide and conquer that you continue to use among my people.


Another thing I want to confront is your false claims that I am a racist.  Apparently you do not understand the definition of racism.  Racism is about relations of power, domination, and privilege.  Being a Native Hawaiian woman, I would love to know in what universe I dominate the relations of power.  When I question the fact that you are representing my people as a Hawaiian, when you are not an indigenous Hawaiian, and have no real ties to Hawaii, as you were not born or raised there and have not spent any significant amount of time there, it is not because I am a racist, it is because, simply speaking, your experiences does not represent the experience of my people.


Your Libertarian/Right wing, delusional post-race perception of Hawaii fails to recognize that structural racism exists in Hawaii.  And race, constructed by white men, has been the basis for the uneven power relations that Hawaiians, like so many other indigenous peoples deeply affected by colonialism and imperialism, still experience today.  You, coming from a privileged white background, cannot begin to relate to my coming from a legacy of poverty created and maintained by structural racism, which generation after generation, is still so difficult to overcome.  My family left poverty-stricken

Nānākuli, looking for work, to settle in the poverty-stricken areas of California, where I still live today.  Your inability to distinguish and discuss racism contributes to racism.  And your Colorblind Racist allegations and tactics have been nothing less than an attempt to shut me down and bolster your concocted paternalistic role as our "ambassador" and self-appointed savior.


Another reason I do not accept your representation is my own haole great-great-great uncle, Charles N. Spencer, served under Kalākaua and Lili`uokalani as Minister of the Interior, but he was an educated, respected, and successful business man, who never claimed to be Hawaiian nor to have a shared history with the Hawaiian people, and always remained in a position of support to the Hawaiian monarchy.  You do not possess any of his qualities.  Your insensitive use of language such as  “we suffer” and “our oppression” and “we wear the costumes of oppression,” makes me wonder how you as a white man, which carries undeniable privilege throughout the world, who grew up in Manhattan, New York City, could be so arrogant and delusional as to imply that you have been subjected to the same oppression and suffering as my people.  Were your grandparents beaten for speaking Hawaiian or practicing their native culture?  Was your family driven off their land and pushed into Nānākuli and Waianae?  Was your family forced to become part of the Hawaiian diaspora because of the real racism that happens in Hawaii, where Hawaiians are passed over for jobs that are given to non-Hawaiians?


Also, I can’t tell you how condescending and demoralizing it is when you continue to proclaim your "Hawaiian-ness," based on your exotified, narrow, Orientalist understanding of what it means to be Hawaiian, denying the complexity of my culture and whittling it down to your random use and often misuse of my people's language and your proclamations of having “Aloha Spirit.”  Your continued perpetuation of the myth of an utopic, symbiotic indigenous and non-indigenous, Colonial 19th Century Hawaii used to promote your post-race Hawaii is also disturbing.  Please explain to me what is so perfect about the decimation of my people from estimates of 250,000-1,000,000 people to 40,000 people?  Or the ethnocide of my native spirituality and culture, replaced by Anglo spirituality and culture?  Or the growing foreign control of Hawaiian politics, as well as the landgrabs by the same people?  From the point that Europeans “discovered” Hawaii, which includes the 19th Century, there has been an uneven relation of power between kanakas and haoles.  What might be perceived as a "Golden Age" to your people is a view not necessarily wholly shared by my people.


I know you will read this and your narcissism will prevent you from comprehending any of it, and it pains me deeply to have to write this letter, as many of my fellow Hawaiians have told me you are not worth my time.  I am sure that the fact that I am a native woman who dares to stand up to you, will also make you that much more indignant.  But as long as you are using your money and privilege to inorganically insert yourself into my people's politics, I will stand up to you and all other men like you.  And I will continue to do so until you realize that supporting our sovereignty movement is far different from colonizing our sovereignty movement.  It is part of our process of decolonization and deoccupation, as well as a right stated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), that we have an undeniable right as indigenous people to self-representation and self-determination.  And I ask you this, if you believe a person such as yourself, a non-indigenous person who was not born or raised in Hawaii, can claim all the same rights to my people's culture, language, spirituality, land and water, please tell me how this is not another form of colonialism, with military uniforms and business suits being replaced by pony tails and “aloha” shirts?  There was once another group of self-serving white men who claimed they knew what was best for us and used their position of white privilege and moneyed power to insert themselves into Hawaiian politics.  I would rather eat rocks than see this happen again.


`Ai pohaku!


M.A. Ka`upenamana

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Replies to This Discussion

It's all good, I would be in the wrong too if I would shut down other voices.  

My relationship with you (Kai) is that back steps of the Iolani Palace.  My request at that time and that was-- one represent those children that stood on those steps.  To take up an Embassy position and to take their voices to the UN are all that one could ask for.  When will all other well intended people take up that cause at the UN remains to be seen.

What is not conscious in the minds of the so-called leaders are the fact that those homeless children represents all Pacific Island children human condition.  Their visible conditions of 'poverty' in Paradise are the realities for all children in the Pacific Ocean Region.  The need and existence for the Hawaiian Embassy at the UN it's real!   

Sadly, that the 1812 Captain Admiral Percival mentality reigns in the minds, body and soul of his followers.  Native Hawaiian women and their children are at fault for US military soldiers wandering into villagers abode and taking up house with non-white women.  That Daw's Act is still practiced by Percival's loyalist!  To carry the pohaku of the aina and build missionary homes and their churches for over 200 years brings to mind the depth of this argument.  As to why these lazy Hawaiians are asking for it's continued legacy is so beyond my comprehension of the real problem, after all,  they have no pohaku in their hands.  


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