I Am Hawaiian; We Are All Hawaiians

article top

State Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Boyd Mossman, in the November 2009 issue of OHA’s newsletter, ‘Ka Wai Ola’, wrote an interesting piece titled ‘We are all Hawaiian.’

In it, he talks about 50% blood quantum native Hawaiians who have been fighting OHA for providing benefits and services to non-50% blood quantum native Hawaiians. He derides their efforts, stating, “I wonder how many of their grandchildren are 50 percent Hawaiian.”


OHA’s hypocrisy comes out in full force with Mossman’s words – they don’t want people judging them by blood, but they still insist on judging others by blood. There are three positions to be held here, and OHA chooses the one which is simply irreconcilable with itself.

On the one hand, you can assume that different races are different, and that 50% native Hawaiians deserve different treatment simply because of their race. This is an abhorrent position in my eyes, but it is consistent – it makes no apologies for its racism, and clearly decides who is more worthy than others by race. If you’re 100% you’re better than 50%. If you’re 50% you’re better than 25%. And if you’re one drop, you’re better than zero drops.

The other consistent position you can take is to assume that there is no such thing as “race”, and that all such distinctions are irrelevant and immaterial to someone’s worth or how someone should be treated. This is my position, and by its rationale, OHA should remove any blood quantum from its qualifications – zero drop, one drop, 100% should all be treated the same. Pure Japanese? No problem, sign up for Kau Inoa. Pure Portuguese? No problem, sign up for Kau Inoa. 100% Haole? Yup, no problem, come and sign up too!

But Mossman picks the “middle way”, and gets squished like one of Mr. Miyagi’s grapes. He simultaneously insists that race shouldn’t matter when judging between a 50% blood quantum person, and a 49% blood quantum person, but that it should matter when judging between a 1% blood quantum person and a 0% blood quantum person. Even if we reduce the blood quantum to 1/8th as suggested by Prince Kuhio and endorsed by Mossman, the same question eventually arises – should blood matter? Mossman’s answer of “sometimes” is simply untenable.

I’d like to ask Mr. Mossman, how many of his grandchildren are 0% native Hawaiian? How many of his cousins, nieces, nephews, and other family are 0% native Hawaiian? Why should any adopted children in his genealogy be treated different than their brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers? Should non-native wives in his family be considered less worthy than their native Hawaiian husbands?

In the end, there is one truth, that Hawaii is a place, not a race. All of us, whether or not we originally came from other Polynesian shores, or from the Azores half-way across the world, came from somewhere else, and have joined together to build a culture unique in this world. The only answer to the question “should blood matter” is a resounding NO! I urge Mr. Mossman, and OHA, to understand that “Hawaiian” should never be a question of bloodline, ever.

He Hawaii au; He mau Hawaii kakou a pau. I am Hawaiian; we are all Hawaiians.