Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Round Two: Sovereignty and Superferry

I was disappointed to hear that Ka`iulani Huff was kicked off KKCR because of a spat with another DJ. Her sovereignty show is musically one of my favorites, and her passion is always inspiring.

I don’t know all the details, but I find it ironic that a station run by a nonprofit — the Kekahu Foundation — that bears the family name of the late sovereignty activist, Butch Kekahu, would ax the DJ who started the one and only sovereignty show.

Donna Lewis, who gave Ka`iulani her walking papers, sent this email to me in response to my inquiry: "If she chooses, Ka`iulani can reapply to become a volunteer after a waiting period. In the interim, Songs of Sovereignty will continue to be broadcast by an informed, responsible DJ. As I've mentioned, KKCR very much supports the perpetuation of Hawaiian culture."

I'm not sure who they will tap to do her show. Ka`iulani is one of the station’s few Hawaiian DJs, and I don't think a sovereignty show can properly be hosted by a non-Hawaiian. I've long been troubled by the lack of ethnic diversity in KKCR’s programming and personnel. A community radio station should not be perceived as a haole-dominated North Shore station, and unfortunately, that is both KKCR’s image and reality.

Hale Mawae, who was in the studio when the dispute occurred, sent an email to station managers with this comment: "I believe that KKCR supports the perpetuation of Hawaiian cultural appropriation. Nothing else! Not only does KKCR actively support the appropriation of our culture, it blatantly begs support from places that thrive off of the appropriation of Hawaiian
culture."

He continues: "I for one can say that I have experienced first hand the kind of personal, racist, bias and injustice when I tried to volunteer at the radio station and let my opinion be heard just as Ka'iulani has tirelessly tried to have hers."

His allegations are troubling. I hope the station will use this incident to carefully examine its outreach efforts, and make a concerted effort to broaden the programming and DJ pool to more accurately reflect Kauai's cultural melting pot.

While we're on the subject of allegations, yesterday I was chatting with one of the guys who serves on the Superferry task force. He mentioned that at their first meeting, which coincided with the ferry’s first trip to Maui, Superferry CEO John Garibaldi told them that on the trip to Maui, they’d found some bees on car radiators, which they collected. The bees are a concern because they could spread the varroa mite, which is a serious problem.

Garibaldi also said they’d inspected all the ice chests. When questioned by task force member Randy Awo, a Maui resource conservation officer, Garibaldi said they’d checked around inside, under the ice, to make sure nothing was being transported that shouldn’t be.

But when Randy went on board and was talking story with some Superferry crew, he asked them how they’d inspected the ice chests. They told him they had just opened them up and looked, and weren’t allowed to poke around inside.

So the question is, was Garibaldi misinformed, or lying about Superferry's crucial inspection process?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

People - show up 8:30 am Monday at KKCR to ensure that Ka'iulani is ON THE AIR!

charley foster said...

Cultural appropriation is a problem that has always bediviled western progressives. Progressives are no more guilty of it than any other members of the dominating culture, but they are no less so, either. Some groups within the dominating culture selectively adopt elements of the indigenous culture for their economic usefulness, or their merely aesthetic qualities. Progressives often selectively adopt elements of the indigenous culture because the elements are percieved to augment or support or reflect the progressive's specific cause or broader philosophy.

Westerners chanting Hawaiian phrases or waiving ti leaves at the Superferry is no less cultural appropriation than a vacation resort luau. Progressives might argue that their appropriation serves higher cause, but it is nonetheless cultural appropriation. It removes the elements from their indigenous cultural context and imposes on them meanings the western appropriator wants them to convey or, perhaps even more arrogantly, the meanings the western appropriator in his/her relative and inevitable cultural ignorance, fancies that they have.

Critiques of cultural appropriation point out that it effectively robs indigenous people of their culture by diffusing it, as westerners take over from indigenous people the evolution of their own culture.

Anonymous said...

Donna's lack of good judgment is very harmful to both KKCR and the Hawaiian community. Maybe if Donna did not use KKCR as the primary vehicle to deal pot, not to mention smoke all day every day, she would be in a position to make better decisions.