Break out the champagne and the 12-pages of Hawaiiglish, it’s OHA grant application time! (What is Hawaiiglish? It’s the name I’ve come up with for the bizarre hybrid of English and Hawaiian that is especially popular in the field of obtaining Hawaiian grants or talking about Hawaii when you’re running for office. You know . . . when you get sentences like, “The kapuna understand the matrix of needs required to foster care of the ohana.” Yes, this is a pet peeve of mine, since I feel like it’s pandering–as though Native Hawaiians are going to applaud anything you say just because you stuck the word “pono” in the sentence.)
Anyway, as part of its announcement of the new granting year, OHA also published its list of priorities. And, to be scrupulously fair, many of them are completely reasonable and even necessary. For example, there is a huge emphasis placed on increasing economic self-sufficiency for Native Hawaiians, with a specific goal of increasing family income and housing stability. There are also laudable mentions of the need to exceed education standards and preserve Hawaiian culture. Heck, I don’t even have a quarrel with the emphasis on preserving the environment and protecting the land. There are places in this country where I might not be moved by that (I’m looking at you here, Newark), but Hawaii . . . well, that is some beautiful, beautiful stuff.
Of course, what I’ve done here is once again (like a broken CD or KPOI’s playlist) come back, yet again, to the same theme. In effect, laudable goals do not equal laudable programs. That’s why this exercise in transparency is so necessary. Native Hawaiians deserve to know if all of these efforts to increase their family income, preserve their land, and protect their culture are actually good and effective program, or if they’re nothing more than vanity projects, giveaways to favored groups, or noble ideas that just don’t work in the real world. Or whether they’re working like crazy and just need some more publicity and support to really help. Some people get threatened by transparency efforts like 4HawaiiansOnly. They think we’re trying to attack people or take away their support. That’s a very defensive and short-sighted view. All we’re doing is giving people the information they need to make an informed judgment about how their money is being spent. You have to wonder about the motivations of those who want to prevent people from having that knowledge.