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Yes, judge me. Pile
hatreds upon hatreds on
Defenseless pale skin.
Reverse past-bound tides of
oppressive histories current
somehow with our modern
times.

If I were brown, or red, or
yellow, or discontent, you
would venerate and raise
me to your shoulders crying
“here indeed is a saint for
us all.”

But I have no shield of
color-full histories and
ethnically valid heritage.
My brown hair and blue
eyes give voice to
the idea that I am
always wrong.
Many of you, my dear readers, do not know this, but I grew up in Hawai'i, where things are very different from the situation in the continental United States. In Hawai'i, White Americans have to face racism, something which seldom, if ever, happens to White Americans in the continental US. (This isn't to say that other groups in Hawai'i don't also face racism, I'm just focusing on whites for now.) Just as African Americans have the N-word, White Americans in Hawai'i also have a derogatory term - Haole. The etymological histories of this word not withstanding, it is now used in a mostly insulting sense. How many times was I called 'stupid haole girl' while the kids in my apartment complex threw rocks at me? I've lost track of the times. The thing was, I never even learned the historical reasons why they did these, as well as other, things until my first Hawaiian history class in the 7th grade.

When I was studying at the University of Hawai'i, I took a Hawaiian studies course. I would have taken the course if it had been required or not, I had been fascinated by Hawaiian studies in Intermediate and High School, I haven't changed to this day. In this class, understandably, we came across the subject of racism, in this case whites against Native Hawaiians (all you have to do is skim over Hawaiian history to see how badly the whites treated the Hawaiians, especially King Kalakaua and Queen Lili'uokalani, amongst many thousands of unnamed others). I agreed with the idea that there were still instances of racism in Hawai'i as a result of this clash in the 1800s. My only qualm came up when I spoke about the racism that White Americans face in Hawai'i (for example, when my family first moved to O'ahu, my father had people turn him down for jobs because he is haole), I was told this was 'reverse racism' and was, somehow, different. The undercurrent of opinion of some of the students (though not the teacher) was that this was justified because their ancestors were abused by whites that I, and many other White Americans in Hawai'i, weren't even related to.

In my poetry class today we read several poems from Audre Lord (a very good poet - I recommend her to anyone who likes passion in their poetry). Lord was an Indian American (of West Indian descent) woman who also happened to be a lesbian. As a result of discussing her poetry within her social context, the concept of 'The White Supremacy' came up. This is understandable - Lord wrote during the period of the Civil Rights movement and was a social activist; she addressed many of these issues in her poems. What I had trouble with was how much 'The White Supremacy' side of things came up and how strongly some of the people (all of whom were, ironically, white upper-middle class Americans) in my class felt about it; and by this I mean how much certain people used it as an excuse to bash and abuse all persons who have white skin and primarily European ancestry.

The discussion today, as well as my background in Hawai’i and how I have seen certain things being emphasized in favor of others (be it in something as wide spread as lawsuits or as individual as academic learning), lead me to write this poem. I have said it before and I will say it again – I refuse to be judged on my ancestry and skin color. As well, I refuse to judge others on their ancestry or skin color. I refuse to believe that it’s easy for ‘whites’ to ignore race or ancestry because ‘they have none’ (I kid you not, I have heard this argument used – my Scottish ancestors alone would be rolling in their graves at this, let alone the dozen other nationalities I have). I don’t want special treatment because of race or ancestry and I won’t treat anyone differently because of it. I believe in treating people based on what they can do, not what color they are. I wish that others could share these beliefs with me, be they African American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Native American, Mexican American, or even not American at all. After all, in these modern times, people are being prejudiced against more for their income and economical standing than their skin color anyway. But that’s another discussion.

Before some of you overreact, I am not racist, I am not a white supremacist, I am not in any way prejudiced against anyone. (Well, people who remain willfully ignorant kind of irk me, but I'm still willing to talk to them and accept their opinions, even though I may not agree.)

Copyright restrictions: You may not reprint or quote the poem or the essay attached without written consent of the author. If you are given permission, you must attribute and cite accordingly.

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:iconquiteowlet15:
Quiteowlet15 Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2015  Student General Artist
Im sorry I'm about to sound like a b, but I feel like the stuff you went though was bad but white people are beyond belief privileged... And as a person who is black passing, we get a lot of things thrown at us (anyone who isn't white). I mean you experience was bad,  but you still get white privilege and other things you may not realize. 
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2015  Professional General Artist
Good thing I never implied this was universal to white people, nor implied that white people don't have it much easier outside of Hawai'i.
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:iconsora96:
sora96 Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
"Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race. "

I choose to believe this definition of racism because it is not in favor of any specific race(s) or offender(s) beliefs. systemic oppression , which varies by region, is not the sole definition of racism.
Reply
:iconvictorious001:
Victorious001 Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
This poem expresses complete feelings about racism, and therefore I agree with you. Just because we are white, and everyone else has a different skin color, doesn't truly make us any different from one another. In my opinion, needless to say if you agree or disagree, is that we are all humans, and our place in life is not decided by others, but by God himself. We don't need to fight and hate each other because of our color background. It makes no sense once so ever. And I don't really understand why people hold grudges against one another over something that happened in the past. Racism is a factor that everyone experiences at least once in their lifetime, severe or not. And your conversation with Momotarukun, I can't seem to comprehend what he means exactly. I am not racist, I appreciate everyone of whatever color background, and as you stated, its not what color they are, but what they are capable of. This is inspiring to me, because I despise the fact that racism still exists in our modern society. And I apologize for such a long comment, I just like to speak my mind sometimes. Thank you.
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2012  Professional General Artist
No worries on long comments - they're better than 'Oh I liked this'. Thank you for taking the time. :)
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:iconvictorious001:
Victorious001 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
No problem :3
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:iconmomotarukun:
Momotarukun Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2012
You know, you can't be racist against white people, since they hold power? It's called prejudice. I hope that helps.

Also, you might want to work on your pros a little. It's not a very strong poem... avoiding the somewhat blatant racism.
Reply
:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
Oh, and before I forget...

You might want to work on your critiques a little. Reading what you wrote... or I should say, didn't write... I'd think you were only trying to be insulting, rather than actually helpful.
Reply
:iconmomotarukun:
Momotarukun Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012
Oh, I'm sorry!

You need to fix your history, it seems to be wrong when it comes to the relations between the Hawaiian natives and the Americans that came in and took everything. You refer to people who are not white as colors, that's offensive. You have some run-ons and need some commas, and there are a few grammar issues. You might want to check out how poetry is structured, there's no strong visual elements (or anything for that matter to connect them) that connect each of the stanzas in anyway. You might want to bring this to a professor that can get all the bugs out of it.
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
Ah, so you *are* trying to be insulting. Ok.

Well, thanks for the effort anyway.
Reply
:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
If you are being bigoted against someone because of their skin color that is racism as you are doing it *because of* their race.

As well, I don't think my poem is racist at all.
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:iconmomotarukun:
Momotarukun Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012
Racism is NOT just prejudice against skin color. It is the systematic oppression of one group by another group that is in political or social power. For example, if you were white in Asia and you were getting harassed, that would be racism, because the people in power are Asian. If you were black in America and getting harassed by white people, that's racism, because white people have the power in the US. If you're white in America, and a black person harasses you, that's not racism, but prejudice.

Racism = prejudice + power
Prejudice = Hatred against a group due to their skin color/beliefs/ect.
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
Wait, let me try to phrase myself within the structure you're trying to build. In Hawai'i during the late 80's and throughout the 90's, white people were not the dominant racial group or "systemic social power". So, yes, what I experienced was racism, even by your definition.
Reply
:iconmomotarukun:
Momotarukun Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012
You do know that Hawaii is part of AMERICA. And white people beat the shit out of the natives and took their land, destroyed their culture and so on? WHITE people owned that land. WHITE people had the power. WHITE people ran the government. WHITE people set the social norms. NATIVES didn't have any power. LEARN history please, thanks.
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
So that makes racism against white people there ok now? No, it doesn't. I studied Hawaiian history for 5 years, I know what happened. That doesn't excuse what I experienced.
Reply
:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
You can be prejudice about other things like gender, religion, favorite movie, but when it's based on Race then it is Racism. Yes, I'm repeating this because the argument is really just that simple.
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:iconmomotarukun:
Momotarukun Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012
Do you know what ect means? It means it's continuing things... that's why, I put skin color/beliefs/ECT
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:iconkalijean:
kalijean Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012
Forgive me, because I agree with you; but it's etc. Short for et cetera, which does indeed mean 'and so forth'.
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
I was taking your explanations and expanding on them to illustrate that while racism is a form of prejudice, it is not 'just prejudice'. Being prejudiced against people with disabilities is called 'Ablism'. Being prejudiced against the elderly (or really anyone for their age) is called 'Ageism'. Being prejudiced against someone for their race is called 'Racism'.

Why are you taking such a condescending tone?
Reply
:iconbowlingfordisco:
bowlingfordisco Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2012
Your criticism of your peers in class would've been better illustrated by a poem titled, "Shut up, Whitey"

And you're discomfort was caused by your privilege, hth.
Reply
:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
Exactly what privilege would that be? Did you actually *read* what I wrote, or are you painting me with the same brush that you would use for someone who grew up in a middle-class mainland family?
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:iconmomotarukun:
Momotarukun Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012
You're Bawwww'ing because as a white girl, no one cares what you think about race relations and you were treated poorly by some non-white kids. Sounds like some serious upsetness because you got told.
Reply
:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Professional General Artist
My father was fired/not hired for his skin color several times. I was consistently physically bullied well into high school for my skin color (I still have the scars to prove it). *For no other reason than because I am white*. I'm not saying that this is common everywhere (usually the racism swings the other way around), I'm not saying that this validates treating others in an equally cruel fashion, I'm saying that this was my experience growing up in Hawai'i during the 90's.
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:iconthe-dark-realm:
The-Dark-Realm Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I think the fact that you are still so open-minded and have such a good perspective on life and history is so impressive. Your clear eyes will take you very far in life. :)

Lovely poem, and you seem like a lovely person to boot.
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2011  Professional General Artist
Oh my. Thank you. ^_^;;;
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:iconspamusubi:
Spamusubi Featured By Owner May 22, 2011
Personally, I have to disagree with Haole being completely and just derogatory. I find Haole is just a term and that it can derogatory but it does not make it derogatory. It is not like using the C word, nor the N word. Which are completely derogatory. Haole to me, is like using the word white or black and it depends on the content of the words surrounding it.

Anyway, as to what happened to you, I'm sorry to hear about that. I get people's angers, on both sides. But I do not believe that innocent people should get involved for the anger of the past by different people. And being brown doesn't necessarily save you. Micronesians as a whole are getting some pretty bad judgments and assumptions thrown at them. I hear more derogatory things (In my day to day life) about Micronesians than I do about Caucasians. Though.. I can't say I've actually heard people say derogatory words to Caucasians as I'm friends with rather open minded people.

What area did you live when you were on Oahu?
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner May 22, 2011  Professional General Artist
When I was very little we lived in Honolulu then in Pearl City. From 6th grade on we lived in Kapolei, my parents still live there. I went to Ilima Intermediate and Campbell high school, so right in Ewa. There tends to be much more racism around Ewa and Waiana'e than around downtown and Kane'ohe side, in my experience.
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:iconspamusubi:
Spamusubi Featured By Owner May 22, 2011
Ah. Sorry you had to go through that.

):
Reply
:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner May 24, 2011  Professional General Artist
It gave me a good perspective - a lot of the mainland white people I meet aren't even aware sometimes of how entitled some of their attitudes are, I'm glad that I can be aware of these things.
Reply
:iconspamusubi:
Spamusubi Featured By Owner May 25, 2011
That's good that you have a good perspective and hopefully you also had some awesome friends. (:
Reply
:iconmore-cool-than-u:
more-cool-than-u Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2010
i'm hawaiian and i want to claim something

nowadays, we just don't like tourists -_-
so, i apologize on the behalf of all the other hawaiians who threw rocks at you and called you haole)

we just don't like tourists makin fun of us, period -_-
Reply
:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2010  Professional General Artist
I don't have much experience with tourists, but I've never known them to really pay much attention to Hawaiians at all specifically, or any locals at all, really. They're too focused on their vacations.
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:iconmore-cool-than-u:
more-cool-than-u Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2010
T_T hm

which isle did u live on?
that itself can depend how racist some ppl r
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2010  Professional General Artist
O'ahu, though I spent most of my summers on Kaua'i.
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:iconmore-cool-than-u:
more-cool-than-u Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2010
cool :XD:
i've only been to kaua'i for about...an hour (long story)
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2010  Professional General Artist
Pity, you should go back. Nice island.
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:iconmore-cool-than-u:
more-cool-than-u Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2010
lolz i know
now i can't decide which one was better, kaua'i, or my home island maui
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:iconvampima11:
Vampima11 Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2009   Interface Designer
WABPWW i go by that rule no matter what color you are you all deserve respect but that still means u have to follow the rules about stealing and stuff hehe -_-" anyway i think u are right
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:iconsora96:
sora96 Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:iconbravoplz:
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:iconerinightwind:
erinightwind Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2009  Professional General Artist
Also, what does 'WABPWW' mean?
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