Hawaiian Culture is Not a Costume


Ela Aonga, Staff Writer

Kayomi Kayoshi, a student who attends Granite Bay High School, has made her statement known in November of 2015 that she believes Hawaiian culture should not be a costume for those to just have an excuse to wear floral-designed shirts and tacky, fake grass skirts.

I have found myself in absolute agreement with this statement. I find it awfully weird how, as a society, we have come to an unanimous agreement that cultures such as African American, Indian, Native American and so forth, are not cultures we should dress up as because that is known as cultural appropriation. Yet, I find it incomprehensible that Hawaiian/Pacific Islander culture doesn’t get the same treatment. From spirit days at high schools to party themes, “Hawaiian” never fails to be brought in somehow.


As a Pacific Islander myself, I feel like there should be more awareness spread about our cultures. Usually other Pacific Islander cultures, like Tongan and Samoan, aren’t as appropriated as much as Hawaiian culture is, because yes, they’re known in a sense, but not as known, because we barely get representation in the mainstream media and society in general. It’s somewhat similar to the problem with our cultural tribal tattoos, and even the lei-ing of the person of honor at important events, such as graduations. People who are not of some sort of Pacific Islander descent just get it for the look, not the meaning. Nor do they even know the meaning.

Yes, there are other races outside of the Pacific Islander category that get appropriated, but the appropriation of those cultures are more recognized, and something actually gets done about it. We Pacific Islanders are truly the minority in America, so it is harder to spread awareness. Hawaiian culture is not the only culture that gets appropriated, let’s be real, but my whole point is that in the appropriation of our culture, barely anything, if not nothing gets done about it because it is so normalized in society, as of right now. I just hope that for the future that people can be more knowledgeable about what they do, what they support, and what they say.

This article won’t change the world, but hopefully it’ll help you think twice before you act and to give you a reminder to educate yourself more on unknown issues that do in fact matter. Just because you love a certain culture other than yours, that does not mean you can wear and/or express the cultural traditions of that culture whenever you please, and to what you see fits. Don’t forget to respect others, that is the bare minimum.