The Twinkies and the Dilly Bars
Poem in two voices on ascriptive and subjective identities
I. The realist looks like an essentialist behind closed doors
Self-portrait: Self portrait:
Hair: doodoo brown Hair: doodoo brown
Eyes: doodoo brown Eyes: doodoo brown
Nose: upepe Nose: upepe
Hips: wide enough to poop Hips: wide enough to poop plenty
plenty babies babies
Legs: daikon Legs: daikon
Lips: chocho Lips: chocho
II. “Identities are fundamental to the process of all knowledge production” (Moya 2006, 102)
“This is a poem by Hawaii poet
Lois Ann Yamanaka.
Cathy, do you think you could read it
(Oh hell no, she never go there.
What, I get some kind sign on me?
Am I the token country Jap in here?
Just because I CAN read it no mean
I WANT to read it. I am surrounded by
whiteness, by Twinkies and Dilly Bars.
Why do these haole teachers
keep trying to teach us stuff
that they can’t even read?
Are they appeasing the natives?
Knock, knock, look around.
There are no natives here.
Please let me not be the token Jap, kanak,
pake, anything today. . .
frick, kill fight)
“Before time, every time my sister
like be the boss of the food. . .”
“Kumu, why do we read so many
books by minorities and women?”
Because I’m a minority and a woman.
Because if I cannot see myself,
if I cannot recognize
the voices that I am familiar with
in the literature,
then I have nothing
to offer you.
I am laying a papa for us,
a foundation to build upon.
We cannot understand someone else’s story until we know our own story.
Everything we look at, we look at through
an indigenous lens.
He Hawai’i au mau a mau. Mao popo?
III. Mobilizing identity in the classroom
Not every teacher can teach AP.
I should feel honored, proud of my
but when I look around
I am shame
that this girl from Kalihi,
nā pua a Pauahi
could not even serve her own people
I look at my students’ faces
bright, eager, intelligent, bored, belligerent, apathetic
How do I know?
And where are Pauahi’s children?
“They are at the short end of a
smaller and smaller
identity stick.” (Meyer 2001, p.124)
The path can go two ways
Do I want to work hard to
get these Hawaiian students to be more like them?
Why do we want to be
more like them?
We are not like those that colonized us.
Observation and then interpretation
Not interpretation based on ascriptive
identities labeled and categorized
by the colonizers to oppress and marginalize.
I want them to be awake
“You are nothing but awake,
you just thought you were asleep.”
Meyer, M. M. (2001). Our own liberation: Reflections on Hawaiian epistemology. The Contemporary Pacific, 13, 123-198.
Moya, P. M. L. (2006). What’s identity got to do with it? Mobilizing identities in the multicultural classroom. In L.M Alcoff & M Hames-Garcia (Eds.), Identity Politics Reconsidered (pp. 96-117). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.