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ImageJEAN TOYAMA'S BLOG

Name, class and money

Posted by JEAN TOYAMA
Wednesday, November 09, 2011 10:12 PM


Racism played a role in the Massie affair, but so did having a name, class and money. Sometimes they all go together, and a name can get you far. Immigrants usually have nothing and the only way to get some is, of course, education. My parents understood this. So when they had a chance to move,—a choice between Kalihi and Manoa,—they chose Manoa. Some may think this a snooty choice, reflecting highfalutin attitudes. Nothing of the sort. Even though my parents didn’t go beyond eighth grade, they knew that education was the key for the poor. Where was the better school? In Manoa. It was hardly an affordable place for a carpenter and a seamstress, but they saved and borrowed and built their own house. It took a year.

Being only in kindergarten I understood none of this. I was going to Kaahumanu Elementary, where even there, I was having my pronunciation corrected. I remember my first grade teacher explaining why I had to go to special classes on Friday to blow into a candle. I couldn’t say “the” or “that” or any of the “th’s”.

In spite of these special classes I had 3 minuses on my first report card (on a scale of check, plus or minus) at Manoa Elementary School for spoken and written English and reading. This school was one of the feeder schools for the English Standard high school, Roosevelt HS.

Later the “English standard” schools were abolished because they created a "class system." In fact I was in the last “English standard” class of RHS. I never realized until later that the system was elitist and I was among the privileged . How about reading my comments on Juliet's blog. (In case you missed it, here it is):

I forgot the most important part of my link! The importance of a name. "Make a name for yourself." "Don't tarnish your name." These are the things people say, used to say." That's why I used the expression "no name" for the accused. As for Thalia, there were so many prominent names attached to Massie and her own name, Thalia, exudes class. Greek in origin, the name of one of the three muses, the muse of comedy, meaning flourishing (just googled that!).

But she was related to several famous people, though her father didn't live up to his own name. He was said to be a moocher, living the high life at the expense of others. But he had friends and relatives who could support him and his family.

I loaded my link with names to give the weight that must have been on the Massie side. But the weight on the other side was the weight earned by work and study.

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