It started with a fat wedge of white moon and a blanket of silver stars upon black. This gave way, in time, to a pale gold glimmer, and then a small squall blew in, rustling branches, scattering leaves, spattering skylights, before quickly departing, which was the signal for Koko and me to go out walking. The gold expanded in the east and then faded, leaving the sky white, drained of all color, waiting for the sun, which rose from a thick bank of gray, bringing gold back to the east and a pearly pink to the west.
The sky, it seems, has no problem with color, moving through the spectrum easily each night and day. We humans, on the other hand, get all caught up in the matter of skin color, which we use to judge and label, include and exclude.
And as a new study commissioned by CNN shows, the bias is toward light skin, especially among white children, but also among blacks. Discussions with parents of children involved in the study also showed that 75 percent of black parents talk to their kids about race, while 75 percent of white families with kindergartners rarely or never do.
Po Bronson, author of NurtureShock and an award-winning writer on parenting issues says white parents "want to give their kids this sort of post-racial future when they're very young and they're under the wrong conclusion that their kids are colorblind. ... It's in the absence of messages of tolerance that they will naturally ... develop these skin preferences."
Many African-American parents CNN spoke to during the study say they begin discussing race at a very early age because they say they feel they have to prepare their children for a society where their skin color will create obstacles for them.
I found it quite fascinating that President Obama, who is equal parts white and black, identified himself as black on the Census. Since he grew up in a white family, I wondered if he began to characterize himself as black because that's how others in the world perceived him, even though he is in fact no more black than white.
The CNN-sponsored tests sought to replicate the landmark Doll Test from the 1940s, which measured how segregation affected African-American children and were used in the Brown vs. Board of Education case that led to school desegregation.
[Child psychologist and University of Chicago professor Margaret Beale] Spencer said the study points to major trends but is not the definitive word on children and race. It does lead her to conclude that even in 2010, "we are still living in a society where dark things are devalued and white things are valued."
Perhaps that’s why Hawaiian burials are regularly disturbed — the Army found iwi while doing construction at Schofield Barracks — but the burials of whites are not.
Meanwhile, Waldeen Palmeira and Kaiulani Edens Huff were down at Wailua Beach yesterday morning to halt archaeological work that could disturb burials as part of the process for building the Path along the beach there.
Plans were to use an excavator to do a subsurface archaeological inventory survey, and as you may recall from a report by the Oahu Island Burial Council referenced in yesterday’s post:
Hence, archaeological inventory surveys that encounter iwi kupuna through careful hand excavation are highly troubling for Native Hawaiians. More distressful is the thought of archaeological investigation via backhoe excavation. And worse still is the notion of inadvertent intrusion into burials and destruction of iwi kupuna by high-powered, modern construction tools. Such acts cause extreme pain for us.
The Garden Island reported that:
Beth Tokioka, administrative aide to Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., said “equipment issues” — not a protest by a few Native Hawaiians, including Waldeen Palmeira — delayed the planned start.
But Kaiulani told me a slightly different story this morning. “They did have equipment issues. The guy walked off the job.” She said the equipment operator, a former classmate of hers, refused to do the work after she and Waldeen said proper procedures had not been followed in securing permits.
When archaeologist Hal Hammatt of Cultural Surveys Hawaii reportedly said he would bring in someone from Oahu to do the job instead, the operator reportedly negotiated with Hammatt to do the dig by hand, with Waldeen and Kaiulani on site and documenting the process on video.
Kaiulani said she called the police on Hammatt and also went on Ron Wiley’s radio show yesterday, which prompted four police cars and some DOCARE officers to show up.
“I asked them which one of you are going to enforce state and federal laws protecting our bones?” Kaiulani recounted. “So they sent Lt. Kaleo Perez down to talk to us and he said they have the green light from DOT. They have the permit from DOT, but they have not met the requirements to begin the AIS. They were supposed to have sit-down meetings with descendents before they even pick a date to dig. It’s like Naue all over again.”
Which leaves me wondering, do we really need to stir up all this pain and angst for a recreational path, when people could simply walk on the beach or ride their bikes along the highway instead? Yes, there's already a highway and hotel there, but must we add insult to injury? At what point do we say, enuf?
(Update: Apparently the archaeological survey is on hold while state and county officials confer.)