Ask Aunty (Fall 2016, Nov 07)

Q: Who was Akaka? And P. Mink? -Uncle Jimbo

A: Thanks for the question, Uncle Jimbo. I had to ask our editor-in-chief, Brian, who’s very familiar with politics in Hawai‘i. He told me that “Akaka” must refer to Daniel Akaka, who was a U.S. Senator from Hawaii from 1990 to 2013. The first Native Hawaiian in the Senate, Akaka is perhaps best known as the namesake of the “Akaka bill.” If passed, this legislation would have given Native Hawaiians greater autonomy, by means of establishing a “government-to-government” relationship with the United States. Essentially, this would have made Native Hawaiians on par with federally recognized Native American tribes on the Mainland – something that many Hawaiian activists today have no intention of supporting, due to pro-sovereignty sentiment.

Also, Brian also told me that “P. Mink” refers to Patsy Mink, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1977, and again from 1990 until her death in 2002. The first woman of color elected to Congress, Mink is perhaps best known for her co-authoring of “Title IX,” legislation that guarantees equal opportunities in colleges that receive federal funding. (Among the many ramifications of this groundbreaking law, women’s athletics as we know it today would not have been possible without Title IX.)

Q: What does gay mean to you? -Rainbow Girl

A: Howzit, Rainbow Girl! The word “gay” can be such a touchy subject. After all, some people use gay as an insult, even if they don’t intentionally mean to be offensive. In general, though, I think most people just think of two dudes or two chicks kissing each other, though that’s a grossly simplified way to think about romance and sexuality. In that case, I’ll throw the question right back at you: what does being gay mean to you? Are you including all people who aren’t heterosexual – including those who identify as “bi” or “ace”? Regardless, I think as long as you intend to be inclusive and open-minded of your fellow humans, being gay should mean whatever you want it to mean.

Q: If all shipments get stopped coming to Hawaii, i.e., Trump wins & government shuts down, where’s the best spot to camp out & survive? -Lady Sassafrass

A: What a sassy question, Ms. Sassafrass! While I try not to think much about elections, what I can tell you is that when it comes to camping, the Kona side is where it’s at. Even Kohala has plenty of good spots to offer. Spencer and Hapuna are two of my favorite spots. Frankly, if your goal is to live in exile while Trump is president, I’d suggest anywhere that’s not rainy (Hilo) or smoky (Puna).

Best of luck on wherever you settle! I just hope your existence isn’t as tormented as what Tom Hanks went through in Cloud Atlas.

Q: What is the meaning of life? -Mr. Smith

A: *sigh* Really, wise guy? How the hell should I know? Try “42” – it worked in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.