What does it mean to be Hawaiian?
That is a question I struggled with throughout my childhood. You see growing up I had a father that would proclaim that he was Hawaiian while doing drugs and fighting. He made me believe that being Hawaiian meant that I had to be cruel to my family and hot tempered. This Hawaiian narrative that he painted forced me to reject that part of me and instead I clung to my Japanese culture that seemed the polar opposite.
Many years later as I attended college I realized that my father was not only a poor example of what it means to be Hawaiian, he literally wasn’t Hawaiian. This knowledge plus the overwhelming examples of smart and kind Hawaiians I met at college helped to turn my perspective around.
I’m now proud to be Hawaiian and understand many of my talents and strengths come from that part of me. I am proud to be Hawaiian and I want my children to be as well. This is an important reason for me to keep living with depression. I want them to see that being Hawaiian means you don’t give up when life throws obstacles at you. That being Hawaiian means you are a fighter. That you are capable of overcoming great odds like sailing the Pacific Ocean to settle the Hawaiian islands. That the genetic DNA in them survived diseases and the overthrow of the kingdom.
My ancestors survived for a reason so I choose life to not only find the reasons why but in hopes that my children will do the same.