(please scroll down to learn about our BLM initial pins)
Aloha is a word we use in Hawaii almost every day. Its literal meaning is “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.” Comprised of “Alo” or presence, front and face, and “ha” or breath. Together, aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. And in retrospect, its one of the reasons we moved back to Hawaii – the willingness of our people to show aloha to complete strangers is a beautiful thing.
And so, I sit in my studio reflecting on the Black Lives Matter movement and Aloha – how far apart they are. We are one country and yet we are so divided -where do we go from here? The Black Lives Matter movement was born from blood and anger over institutionalized racism that dates to the foundations of this country. Why are so many non-black people like us showing such strong support? I think first, it’s the right thing to do when someone is being oppressed. But second, a system that does not value a black life cannot value an Asian, LGBT, or female life either. This fight affects us all – every color, size, shape or age. It’s a fight worth fighting. And black people have been fighting this fight longer and harder than the rest of us, and they still haven’t got the basic safety and security that most of us have. It’s embarrassing that it took this long for us to get outraged.
I usually write about the plight of the ocean, seals, honu and sharks. My heart is always with them. But right now I believe we need to pool our voices, support and privilege to help our black ohana. With so many great articles being written on how to support the cause here and here, I won’t try to repeat their well articulated points on how best to support. But in addition, if we are to move forward through this trauma I think this is about large numbers of people getting deeply uncomfortable, even angry when you witness physical and verbal attacks, daily micro-aggressions, and small injustices to other people. It’s not just about video-taped violent assaults. Its little things like standing up for a disabled or older person pushed out of the way by a more able-bodied person. Or bigger things like lending your voice when a black person doesn’t get credit for an idea. Its about feeling things are not right in your privileged world when things are not right in theirs. And its about doing it even when no one is watching. Especially when no one is watching.
When we start to make “their problems” OUR problems, when we are actively educating ourselves on what those problems are, and seeking to understand ‘the other’, we will have a shot at growing out of this awful race problem we have in the US. And to do so with empathy, understanding and respect. At its heart, resolving this really is about living with aloha.
And when we as a country are finally on that road together, we will also be more able to understand about the seals, sharks and turtles. Because conservation comes from love. Conservation comes from aloha too.
Inspired by the groundswell of donations and support across industries, we wanted to do something to contribute. With every purchase of a BLM mask pin trio, we will donate 100% of the profits to the ACLU. After much thought and consideration of various community groups, and noting that Black Lives Matter, Bail funds, and all the memorial funds have received millions in the last few weeks, we took a step back at who has been at the foundation of all civil rights and civil liberties movements, and we arrived at the ACLU. They fight the fight even when its not popular – arguably the time of greatest need.