The Problem with History in Hawai`i

by Christian Hanz Lozada

History is present in every rock
Kamehameha left on the side of the road
even though it’s also just a rock.
The Queen’s Guards are decked out in red
like a queen’s guard is decked out in red
and the luau dancers wear grass skirts.

There is no transition in this land of transitions.
While tourism sells the primitive,
it glosses over a culture transformed from spears and skirts
to guns and pants,
and back

a culture of rock carvings
to 99% literacy
and back
one that believed if your family lived with, died on, worked in the soil,
ask and you shall own it
and back to homeless on a beach

A culture still trusting that we all share breath,
which means in every dialogue and story
there is a give and take
and it’s now part of a culture that only talks,
that only takes.

The problem with history in Hawai`i is it’s always immediate
and always far away.

 

Christian Hanz Lozada is the co-author of poetry book Leave with More Than You Came With and the history book Hawaiians in Los Angeles, and his shorter works have been published in places like A&U Magazine and Spot Lit. He teaches his neighbors’ kids at Los Angeles Harbor College.

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