Local Vocal

by Edward Bruce Kalaniokaapuokamehameha Keohohou

In today’s technologically advanced stages, you would think that most Americans would be well versed in communicative skills, such as speaking the appropriate language of English regardless of the accent, and/or the dialect of the demographic region we may originate from.

Let alone, that one’s physical appearance may not always be subject to original ethnicity. My being of Hawaiian (Polynesian) descent subjugates me to look like anyone else: a person. Of course, it has been said and reported that my looks are similar to Hispanic and/or Native American people. Which is understandable. But what happened to me the other day while doing some grocery shopping in one of our local grocery stores on Summit Avenue just took the meaning of diversity to a higher level of “intolerable demeanor.”

As I was at the cashier, having my alloted groceries tendered, the clerk (of Hispanic ethnicity), made a remark that I couldn’t quite understand. When I looked at her and asked her to repeat what she had mentioned, she stated, very rudely and smug, “You need to speak Spanish, if you don’t understand me!”

Now, being of sound mind (when it’s not that time of the month for me), I would’ve shrugged it off. If looks could kill, it would’ve look like the Sopranos had done her in.

I responded, “Excuse me, what did you just say to me?”

She replied, “I said, ‘You need to learn to speak Spanish!'” with a heavy accent and giving me a look, as if I were the foreigner!

In my mind I thought, “Girl you didn’t go there!” I was just taken aback by this and just stood there looking at her with comedic amusement. (Dave Chappelle came to mind.)

Now, going back to the days when Hawaii was still a territory, and I was growing up, we were not allowed to speak our native tongue of Hawaiian in school. It was considered uncouth and uneducated (at that time) to speak a foreign tongue in the public schools! And, any person who has lived, visited, or even knows any other native Hawaiians would know that in Hawaii there is a diverse multitude of languages spoken, as it is here in Greensboro. I can remember going home with a note on my lapel, telling my parents that I had spoken Hawaiian, and that I had violated the rules! Boy, did that piss off my parents. Not with me, but with the school system.

Anyways, you know by now that I won’t be shopping at this grocery store anymore. Not because of their prices, or the insolence of the clerk, or the untidiness of the establishment.

I looked at the clerk, and just left all my groceries on the counter, and did the goose-step towards the exit, (yes, I did the goose-step. I wasn’t in the mood to do the “peacock sashay”!). As I was goose-stepping out of that establishment, the clerk hollered at me, and again, in her accented voice of store-clerk nobility: “Eh, you, you not going to pay for this stuff!”

I turned around and glared at her with my Hawaiian nobility, and answered, “No hablo Español!”

So how was your week? Like I always said before, diversity is the coming together of the minds and the spirit of the heart, without any invasion of prejudicial thought.

Aloha ke Akua. (By the way, it means, “God is Love.”)

Mr. Keohohou lives in Greensboro.