Aloha kakou. I’m sitting here on Kaua`I, looking out my window at the blue sky and lush surroundings and trying to wrap my head around what is happening in the world, as we all are in this brave new world called Covid 19. But this isn’t going to be a post that I could have written had I been in self-imposed isolation just anywhere, it’s about being here, on Kaua`I, in the occupied state of Hawai`i. Those of you who have happened upon my Facebook rants of late know that I have been pretty vocal in my outrage that as of today, March 20, 2020, they are still allowing tourists to come to the islands, at least until the governor signs off on the recommendations of his lieutenant governor and Covid 19 task force to impose a 14 day quarantine on all people coming here. He needs to do that yesterday.
Tensions are running high because as you know tourism is the number one industry here and most people work 3 shitty jobs to make ends meet and those jobs are heavily concentrated in the tourist industry. So there are some people who, despite everything, are arguing against shutting the shit down. But I feel that those voices are getting fewer and farther between. I get it, what does someone do when their livelihood is taken away, especially someone who lives on an island where everything is more expensive? This pandemic has shown a bright light on the gaping holes in our social safety net, too many people stuck in low wage jobs with no security, meanwhile our esteemed senators are profiting by selling stock based on insider information. It’s what we get when we elect an inept bankrupt failing TV reality star as president. I can’t even write what I think about him. Instead, I will choose to believe that sanity will prevail, that the policies prescribed by my awesome colleagues at the Center for Economic and Policy Research will be enacted. At least I will do whatever I can to fight for that.
Ahh but I digress, back to Hawai`i. I see lots of posts about people all over the islands saying enough is enough. People on Molokai and Maui have taken to the streets:
And that has brought backlash. I’ve also seen posts complaining about people who feel that is not showing “aloha”. And as I wrote on someone’s thread, that’s what Hawaiians have ALWAYS been told: Show aloha. Always show aloha. And if they dare complain well, they are the ones ridiculed and scolded for not having aloha. And that makes me crazy mad. Everyone saying that needs to read up on some Hawaiian history. My husband Doug’s dissertation had several chapters about the epidemics brought here by outsiders. Epidemics that nearly eradicated Hawaiians. People have inter-generational trauma about that and people who come here have the nerve to say to someone from here that they need to show aloha.
Everyone, Hawai’i is closed. Let it heal, both literally and figuratively. Let the people here take care of the kupuna. We have a total of 9 ICU beds, we need all of the resources for residents. And maybe, as happened in Venice, let the aina heal. Let’s use this opportunity to really re-imagine what life could be like, where people of this place can grow food and take care of one another without someone whining about not being able to take their cheap ass coronavacation. No aloha left for that. But there is much aloha for those who really love this place to do the right thing and stay home.
And with that, much aloha from Kaua`i.
Edited to include this link to an article by my husband Doug that just came out in Smithsonian Magazine: