Striving to think – and write – in support of diversity

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    Dawn Fraser Kawahara

The “Green Flash” is flashing orange, cooling … slowly traveling the spectrum to return to the healing vibration of life, the color green.

It’s disappointing to this writer to see the old “local vs. haole/white foreigner” division erupting in recent editions of The Garden Island Forum letters, and unacceptable language. Beyond disappointing, it’s downright embarrassing coming from an island where it’s put out there for the world that we all — yes, every one of us — came from somewhere else and we get along so well, no major differences (in acceptance of each other’s difference, that is) to create disharmony between members of our diverse population.

To intensify disappointment and embarrassment, I’ve recently come upon the fact that our nation is no longer to be known as “A Nation of Immigrants,” but as “America for Americans,” promoting a separatist movement. Nothing subtle about that.

Diversity is something I’ve always prized, having inherited a mixed bloodline that was kept secret due to censorship, and also many homes in many different locations and cultures around the globe. That may have been part of the magnet for me as a naturalized U.S. citizen about moving heaven and earth to become a citizen of Hawaii (as it is for many open-minded people), and of course, Kauai in particular, with its incomparable natural beauty.

The word “diversity” brings up images of rainbow-hued balloons, gardens rioting with color and texture, travel photographs, festivals that feature ethnic dance and music and art — and let’s not forget the food.

Think of how would it be if everything you ate on a white plate was white in color — white fish with white rice and sauce, no bright green beans or broccoli, sweet red peppers or a sprinkling of chopped cilantro? Good chefs know how to present and meld diversity, just as do good musicians, painters and poets. What if every song you listened to was in the same key and had no change in tempo or expression? Boring …

My mention of poets brings me to the subject of some original poems the newly formed Kauai “Live Poets’ Society” (LPS) members heard during last Monday’s meeting sponsored by the Lihue Library. Written by a husband and wife, these poems represent by their very willingness to tackle personal diversity in fresh imagery and description the cultural richness of this married couple, who kindly permit me to use their writing here.

Christopher Molina is a community worker for a Native Hawaiian organization; Michelle Molina is an eighth-grade teacher at Waimea Canyon School.

“Where I’m From”

By Christopher Molina (2018)

I am from busted down cars in the yard

From Portuguese sausage mornings and loose Chihuahuas barking at midnight

I am from the collector’s palace of treasures hoarded with urgency and anxiety probably from some unshared family trauma

The heat of a Ma‘ili summer

I am from the Chili Pepper tree

Whose long-gone limbs I remember

As if they were my own

I am from kanikapila while the uncles drink beer and talking story till the late hours of the night

From Alvanette and Papa Victorio

I am from “No grumble, just get it done” and get up early and go swap meet

From television watching, speaking proper English, and wandering the stacks at Pearl City Library after school with Miss Chun

I am from “You can do anything you set your mind to” and “if you don’t get your geometry grade up you won’t graduate” and Cecilio and Kapono’s “Highway in the Sun.” I’m from bussing fireworks at midnight. I’m from San Diego and Pangasinan

Butter Mochi and Dinuguan.

From Puna who married my great-grandfather even though she knew she would be disowned by her Portuguese family from the Azores because he was a kanaka.

The Weezer T-shirt that was on sale at Hot Topic that I could actually afford to buy and wore often. My first electric guitar with a myriad of stickers of Christian Hardcore bands, tucked under the bed collecting dust, next to the ditched electric drum set, keyboard and bass guitar. The realization that I could record any song on the radio with my tape player and banging out to Rage Against the Machine hoping my mom couldn’t understand the lyrics.

These two poems were written in response to information provided by LPS member Joy Frelinger, a published children’s poet under the pen name of Joy Acey, about writer-teacher George Ella Lyon. Lyon joined with Julie Landsman, a Minneapolis-based activist, to create a response to the “fear- and hate-mongering alive in our country today.” All are invited to participate in a project collection from the theme of “Where I’m From,”, where a poem template is provided for each to plug in personal imagery and “diversity of voice.”


Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, made her home on Kauai in the 1980s. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live with books, music and birds in Wailua Homesteads. Shared passions are travel and nature. The writer’s books may be found in local outlets and on Amazon. For further information, see

  1. gordon oswald October 8, 2018 3:58 am Reply

    America is the envy of the world, and everyone on earth wants to have a piece of it. The day “America ceases to put America first, America will cease to exist”. It will become what everyone else in the world is fleeing from! Successful Countries must have strong borders and a careful immigration policy to survive! Isn’t that exactly what’s happening to Kauai? Everyone wants a piece of it, and it’s life, as we have cherished it, is on life support. America can finally be saved. As for Kauai? It’s lack of intelligent State leadership will guarantee it’s eventual doom. It’s time to put America, and Kauai, first!

  2. Jake October 8, 2018 5:05 am Reply

    I love how “diversity” is used in the 21st century……”white plate was white in color — white fish with white rice and sauce, no bright green beans or broccoli, sweet red peppers or a sprinkling of chopped cilantro?”

    True Diversity = Wide range of abilities, experience, knowledge, and strengths due to its heterogeneity in age, background, ethnicity, physical abilities, political and religious beliefs, sex, and other attributes. Color of the skin is only one part of it.

    Hawaii is the most openly racist state in the Union right now. It’s not about how to fix things not he islands….it’s about who to blame. You know, playing the “victim card”. Locals, however you want to define them, blame the tourists, newcomers, transplants for all the problems. Start with your local politicians…..the one’s that were “Born and Raised” on Kauai, that can’t see past Friday because they yearn for the way things “used to be”.

  3. hutch October 8, 2018 11:50 am Reply

    This sounds like some kind of hippie-dippie Woodstock Manifesto. Oh, and you’ve gotta love the author’s reference to her alleged but unspecified “mixed bloodline”. Sounds suspiciously like Elizabeth Warren’s “mixed” bloodline.

  4. Leilani October 9, 2018 5:40 am Reply

    When Hawaii stops condemning whites and embracing and celebrating white culture – the Portugese, the English, the French and the gifts they brought – including some darned good-looking men, then we will have a reality-based world.
    I am hapa – half-Japanese and I love my European roots and culture.
    The Europeans came hundreds of years ago on the mainland and they are really the people who made the US what it is today. They were often Christians and I know for a fact that there are good stories about the wonderful relationships between Native Americans and white pioneers that have never been told to the public. Lifelong friendships just as in Hawaii.
    My mother adored her white employer in Honolulu and they became very good friends. They even attended church together and the woman even gave my mother her wedding.
    I was not raised to hate other people because of their race and especially not whites since I am part white!

  5. Some guy October 11, 2018 9:20 am Reply

    Whites are the root of all evil I say, as I type this from my new iPhone, live on welfare and pay for my beer with food stamps. Go home whitey

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