Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Name freewrite

At my first school we showcased Hawaiian names like tan lines
Maps compiled to show where we have been
And where we are going
A process of decolonization
We thought

We hid our americaness
Those of us who weren’t “pure”
Begged the teacher not to divulge our scars to the classroom
I told everyone
My name is Heolimeleikalani
My father, a musician
Named me after the instinct to become song
To be sent heavily in voice

When my classmates discovered my given name was Jamaica
My brownness turned a set of shades lighter
No longer Hawaiian, I thought
Everyone would always notice
The English I carried in the corner of my birth certificate
I wanted to crape the consonants of my skin like a disease
I beat up boys older than me for uttering the syllable in public

In highschool I learned to love my name
It brought me song
“Jamaica Jamaica” sung from the corners of a kapālama hallway
it was as if my two names would be linked in the instinct to sing
I should mention
Jamaica, the name, also comes from song
It’s a song about this guy meeting a girl name Jamaica and playing her.
Really romatic.

Thanks dad.

In any case,
I have learned to approach names differently these days
There is still a part of me scared by the absence of being given my family name
Kamakawiwoʻole o Kamehameha
The unwavering eyes of Kamehameha
But I have started to realize that
My name
Doesn’t make me any more or less Kanaka
Just like my tan
Both temporary
Physical reminders for others
The real issues
Is to convince yourself of who you are
And be so

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