What Is Hawai'i's place?
In a previous article, the author wrote that Starbucks considers Hawai'i to be an international location. To know this is comforting to me (especially since I give them my money all too frequently). I admire the author of that article for standing up for what he/she believe in; in fact, I used to argue the same point. However, I now know and understand the historical events that led to the U.S. occupation of our Hawaiian Kingdom, and as such, I cannot advocate for us to be acknowledged as a state of the union.
According to the international standards set forth by the United Nations, Hawai'i is still it's own kingdom being occupied by the American government. The Hawaiian Kingdom was recognized in the 1840's by England and France with legally-binding documents that are still valid today. This occupation is further acknowledged by a U.S. issued document in 1993, commonly referred to as The Apology Bill. The United States openly declared that they illegally participated in the overthrow of our monarchy and that annexation to the United States was not the will of the Hawaiian people.
So, while we all do speak English with an American accent, and while we do sit in the comfort of our own homes with microwaves, cable tv and computers, the question still remains: Are we really Americans? Is this really America?
I hope not. To be American means to allow our most pristine beaches to be confined by strip malls; to encourage more corporations to wave their dollars around so that the little people can have a glimmer of a hope in getting their share; to allow the wealthy, American and international alike, to purchase our sacred grounds to build their millionaire homes, dispossing the native people of theirs. These are the things that define Americans in a small place like Hawai'i. And these are all things that I cannot advocate for.
But we do the best with what we have. Until things change, my passport still says United States on it. But when I travel internationally, I don't tell people I'm American. I tell them I am Hawaiian. It makes all the difference in the world.