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Four Voices in Renshi: Revisiting the Massie Affair

What Are They

Thursday, October 06, 2011 9:24 PM
  
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What Are They

Posted by pleopard
Thursday, October 06, 2011 9:24 PM



I said nothing
the night they came, the first night gone

put away the stew warming on the stove,
closed the lights, closed my eyes

to his lean arms- his father's arms
folded over into cuffs, folded down

into the police car, eyes straight ahead
a man, my son, a man.

The fourth night, the fifth night I said nothing
kept it in my mouth, kept it in

my skull, the tentacled fear reaching down
choking out the air. There is so little air

for mothers without sons without money.
Hammers to a shell, hammers to my spine

the newspapers, haole women who float above-
what are they; roots to a lie, what are they; ladders to hell.

I sweep the porch slow
as the week passes, as the radio jabbers

as the walls get closer there is still enough room
in the day to boil potatoes, hang clothes on the line, room in the day

to visit my son to ask him
what all mothers ask, what all helpless mothers

ask "Do you have enough to eat?" The truth:
each night is a stone, each day bitter water.

At the bus stop, I light a cigarette with nothing left to do
but wait.


Christy Passion

Waiting for the Newspapers

Posted by Ann Inoshita
Sunday, October 23, 2011 2:28 PM



In 1931, the Hawaii Hochi and the Nippu Jiji
had many readers and included sections in English
for Japanese who were second generation in Hawai‘i.

“You wen read da Hochi? Dey came up wit some good questions.”

“No make sense, yeah. How come had plenny witness
who saw all da suspects far away from da crime scene
when da rape happen?”

“No make sense. No mo even evidence dat da lady was in dea car.
And her dress stay in good condition.”

“Funny kine. Even had one haole guy walking behind her da time of da rape.”

“Dey no mo any odda suspects? Cuz sound like dese guys neva do nothing.”

Advertiser editorials claimed that Hawai‘i was unsafe for women.
Both the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin published articles
that assumed all suspects were guilty.

Thalia’s name was missing
from the Advertiser and Star-Bulletin for months,
but photos with names and addresses
of all suspects were included in the papers.

Although the trial did not start,
there already was a difference
in what people in Hawai‘i thought of this case
based on race.

—Ann Inoshita



Based on Race

Posted by Jujube
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 9:15 AM




My neighbor once said,
"We the under-dogs.
We don't have a chance.
Look the Fukunaga boy—
In no time, they hang him."
My heart gave way in anguish
when they took my son away
in the middle of the night.
Accused.
After that, I didn't want to show my face.
So ashamed,
I didn't want to go out
of our small house Liliha Way;
so scared, I saw everything
in our outside world
as too big.
White.
For I had forgotten . . .
we breathe like them,
eat like them,
dream like them.
The only difference?
We, a different color.
Nonwhite.
Once, I had big dreams.
I thought, perhaps,
my children would someday
break the land covenants,
go to college.
I broke my back, my fingers
to raise my children right.
Even forgot those in Japan,
my family's history beginning here,
but now turned.
Nightmare.
My Horace is in jail,
with the other boys,
accused, not only by the white woman
but by my eyes of shame.
What did all the mothers do wrong?
I have to remind myself--
Nothing!
They all good boys,
my son and his friends,
but now they rot in jail.
Put there, without charges.










Without Charges

Posted by Jean Toyama
Wednesday, November 09, 2011 11:48 AM



They wait in jail, these no names
crushing knuckles against the concrete wall
wondering how it happened.

In her house in Manoa
Thalia Fortescue Massie
engraves her father’s name, Granville,
into his cousin’s name,
Theodore Roosevelt.
Then she melds her grandfather’s cousin’s name,
Alexander Graham Bell,
into the armor of her story.

Her allies amass their titles and weight:
Rear Admiral Yates Stirling, Jr., Commandant of the US Navy,
enlists his friend, Walter F. Dillingham, Baron of Hawaii Industry.

In response a counterbalance develops.

A mother calls a princess, Abigail Kawananakoa, who calls a heavyweight:
William H. Heen, born of Hawaiian and Chinese parents,
educated at Hastings Law School, first non-haole judge appointed
to the First Circuit Court (since resigned), leader of the Democratic Party.

To his team he adds a cracker jack haole lawyer from Vicksburg Mississippi:
William Buckner Pittman descendant of Francis Scott Key. With the Star-Spangled
Banner on this side, Robert Murakami, graduate of University of Chicago Law School,
joins to even out the battle.




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