The Culture That We Are Not

  Being that it was Halloween tonight, it’s a customary thing for my kids to go trick or treating.  It’s a little different this year since we aren’t at home and are still in Ithaca, New York, while I finish up my Alliance for Science fellowship.

One thing I always teach my kids to be grateful to people who give you a treat, no matter what it is.  The routine was pretty much the same as it is at home but about 40 degrees colder.  It was nice to see so many neighbors passing treats to children big and small.  Many of the elderly neighbor’s sat outside on their porches with their walkers and oxygen tanks too.

After we had visited several homes, we came upon one that had its porch light on so my kids walked up to the door.  A very tall man came out and dropped a candy in my younger daughter’s treat bag then stopped when he saw my eldest.  She told him oh so politely,  “Trick or treat!” 

He stopped for a second and said he couldn’t hear her.  She repeated herself and he asked her to yell it out.  My daughter, being half Asian and half Caucasian, acts very Asian with a meek personality.  He didn’t get why she wouldn’t just yell it at him.

I’ve always taught her to carry herself politely, especially around adults.  Asking her to yell something isn’t in her personality to do.  She was literally stunned that she was being told to yell and shout at an adult.  She absolutely could not do it.

The man started waving his hands in front of her face mocking her for being stunned by his request.  She was in disbelief.  He shouted out, “Who’s responsible for this one?”

I replied that I was and he then lectured me to teach her to yell when told to by an adult.  I jokingly said, “Yeah, sure.” Inside my mind, I too was in disbelief.

This man really has no clue or understanding that some people aren’t raised to be like the way he wanted my daughter to be.  It’s in my upbringing that we are respectful and don’t shout at others even when asked.  It’s just not in us to be like that.  The man clearly doesn’t understand my daughter’s upbringing.

That incident tonight made me realize that this what’s happening in Hawaii.  A lot of mainland transplants come to our state thinking they know our culture but really don’t.  They are yelling at policy makers to make laws against the local folks.  

They mock us locals as having “plantation mentality” as if it’s a bad thing to have our roots in that era.  These folks haven lived those beloved “small kid time” days that many of us reminisce fondly about.

Like the man telling my daughter to yell at him, our policy makers are asking the locals to do the same thing and we are struggling with doing that.  It’s hard for us to find it in us to take this leap but we are trying.

Despite the man literally shocking my daughter, he dropped a treat in her bag.  As she thanked him, he shouted out to me and the others a very disturbing statement.  He yelled out jokingly, “If I was 50 years younger, I’d ask her to marry me!”

Happy Halloween.  The world is full of people hiding behind masks offering a treat but really it’s one about deceit.


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