by Joni Kamiya, Hawaii Farmer’s Daughter, April 15, 2016
I have been so dismayed seeing the activists once again playing the “these people are immigrants so their jobs aren’t needed” card. The cold callousness of these kinds of comments make me unbelievably sad. We are living in 2016 and not in the 1950’s or 60’s, where discrimination was rampant. Those people who spoke out against this faced harassment and even lost their lives.
Have people forgotten that this is Hawaii where many people from around the world came together to create our beloved local style? We are people of many colors that figured out a way to work together as a community. It took many hands to build the Hawaii so many of us love but is slowly being torn apart by fear and misinformation.
Does the color of our skin tell a story? It sure does. My dad’s hands are brown but they have done some amazing things in his lifetime. Those rough, calloused hands have fixed tractors and vehicles for decades. It has built stone walls and put up fences to protect his farm and field. He’s used them to rework a John Deer tractor into a forklift. His hands can tie amazing knots to tie down loads of hundreds of pounds. He’s also picked probably over a million pounds of papaya, sweet potatoes, taro, cucumbers, beans, and other veggies over his lifetime.
His hands have had a huge impact upon Hawaii even though it isn’t obvious. The biggest feat that his brown hands have done is something that most people can’t measure. He’s managed to raise a family and taught them how to give back to the community and seek education. We are just like the others in the community.
The activists try to put down a certain class of people because of their skin color. Brown is because of the hundreds of hours spent in the hot sun cultivating the land and breaking their backs to grow crops that come back to us as food. (Note: it’s not the artificially induced brown from lying on the beach to absorb carcinogenic UV rays.). Some may speak in accents that sound funny to you and eat foods that smell weird, but they are the true pillars of our society. What they do allows us to be free to do other things.
As I look at my dad’s brown hands, I’m proud to be a daughter of such a person. When it comes down to it, the farmers, whether it be papaya farmers or seed farmers, they are the ones closest to the earth and have their hands in the dirt.
Many folks with brown hands have learned the the value of hard work and opportunity. They teach those lesson to their children who become future CIOs, therapists, nurses, farmers, and other professionals who give back to the community. Having brown hands should be a symbol of respect for what they learn and pass on to the next generation. Think about the story about those brown hands because they have a story that you’re missing.