...to celebrate 50 years of the 50th "state".
In a recent post in his blog "Volcanic Ash", David Shapiro quipped away:
"The rest of the country took note of our muted observance of the 50th anniversary of statehood. Only in Hawai'i do we celebrate statehood in a state of confusion about whether we want to be one."
[caption id="attachment_463" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="From the HonoluluAdvertiser.com, Saturday 8/22"][/caption]
Well, only in Hawaii is statehood still being challenged. With concern leading up to this day spread across an abundance of political organizations and at virtually every level of government, it is pono that the commemoration should at least have representatives from as many sides of the issue as possible and present each with an ample time to express their point of views.
That almost happened.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Even the commemorative stamp was contraversial; check out the weightedness of the ‘okina."][/caption]
The evening before the conference, I was reading a metaphoric, "Peanuts" video clip blog post regarding the Akaka Bill on He Hawai‘i Au, a very well-inspired and qualified local blog. I decided to leave a comment stating how much I enjoyed the post and included a link to my stance on the Akaka Bill.
Just a few hours later, I received an email and was invited by Dr. Trisha Kehaulani Watson, the author of He Hawai‘i Au, to attend the 50th Statehood conference really at the very last minute. She offered to pay for my entry expenses and also contacted the moderator Keahi Tucker and organizer Kippen De Alba Chu from KGMB for a chance for me to sit on stage as a panelist to discuss the Akaka Bill along side with herself and other prominent Hawaiian leaders of her generation and even those from one or two before!
I used to think I was born at least 30 years too late (my twenties in the 80's), but it's really amazing what the magic of blogging (21st century technology) can do a young person trying to get connected! This opportunity would put me somewhere that I would like to be 10-15 years from now. Not only would i have been the youngest panelist, but also the only steadfast proponent of the bill: the pressure was on.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="578" caption="The stage on the 4th floor of the Convention Center where the panelists were featured."][/caption]
I arrived early, although a little later than expected, after a should have been planned for delay with The Bus. Before the event began, I wanted a chance to establish connections with and really just to talk story with many of the leaders who have been an inspiration for me since my time in Kamehameha Schools. I also got to catch the ending of a large anti-Akaka Bill/Statehood protest happening outside of the convention center, and enjoyed some of the kī hōʻalu entertainment downstairs.
Then for the actual panel discussion and televised event. First, the Ceded Land video wouldn't play, even after an attempt to stall and second attempt: is this a sign? Further complications in technical difficulties resulted in the program being truncated from an hour and a half to an hour, cutting off any chance of further input from planned speakers in the audience such as myself! To make matters worse, as soon as the discussion started picking up, Governor Lingle steps up, walks over to Keahi Tucker, and improvidently speaks for a few minutes thus cutting short the entire segment. Censorship?
Despite not being able to be heard on such an effective public forum during a once in a lifetime milestone, the awesome pupus, hearing so many different points of views on issues I am passionate about, and getting to meet many of my heroes made the event well worth it. In future, I'm sure there will be many other chances to step up, now just wasn't the time. Mahalo, Kehau!