I’m on my second tour of duty dealing with middle school, and if there’s one thing I know for sure, middle schoolers can be some of the meanest humans on the face of the earth.
Emery’s in her last year of middle school, and I was worried about her transition from Washington to Hawai’i. It seemed to be going okay until she came into the house one day upset because one of the boys in the neighborhood yelled at her, “You’re nothing but a stupid haole! You always have been and you always will be!”
After a bit, I discovered it wasn’t the first time someone had said something to her. It’s happened twice in the neighborhood and once at school. And it’s always an angry teenage boy.
I reminded her that while she doesn’t have Hawaiian blood, her roots here run deep. Her great-great grandparents came to Hawai’i from Okinawa in the early 1900’s. She’s the fourth generation to live in Hawai’i and our family tree is wide AND deep. Yes, she was born and raised on the Mainland, but she was surrounded by locals and her stepfather is a Kalihi boy (and you can’t get more local than that). She’s danced hula for ten years, she’s paddled and she can play a little bit of ukulele. And ironically, she knows more of the Hawaiian language than the three boys that tried to crush her with their English words wrapped around one Hawaiian word used with hate.
But even with all that, the truth is, she is an outsider. And that’s okay. Boys can call her names all they want because she will stand tall knowing that their words don’t matter. She has a huge heart, she’s smart (4.0 GPA), she’s talented, and what middle school boys think doesn’t make a difference in the long run. This hapa haole girl will show you what “aloha” really means. Just watch.