An Open Letter — January 29, 2017

“I don’t wanna live no more, sometimes I hear death knocking at my front door, I’m living every day like a hustle, another drug to juggle; another day, another struggle.” Everyday Struggle by The Notorious B.I.G

Working for an arts non-profit in Honolulu, Hawaii, can present its fair share of challenges. It’s the arts, and artists can be real fucking divas. Non-profits are always hustling, making do with limited resources. It is what it is but I have to say, I have never encountered anything like what I walked into this past Friday, January 27, 2017, when I found out we were postponing a concert, on just 25 hours notice, while kicking off the opening of a different production.

What could cause such a last minute hurdle during an already hyper time?


The reason was quite simple:

A member of the trio we were promoting was stuck in Canada, due to passport and visa issues…

In a twist of fate, that same day, a very controversial Executive Order was signed in the United States that you can read about here. Now the reason the gentleman in my personal story was effectively grounded in Canada and unable to enter the country is far different than this story here.

While mass protests thankfully did not erupt around my work, people could not help to point to the irony as we sat there at the door greeting anyone who didn’t get the word via our outreach or the media.

Even the band members themselves joked with the hashtag #CheersTrump to laugh at the unfortunate experience, which left them feeling bad for their fans here in Hawaii, many of whom had come all the way from their native New Zealand.

But life goes on for all of us involved with minimal distress in the case of the missing visa and passport. Tickets for the event are transferable to the new date and most people were understanding, disappointed because they were so excited for the experience, but understanding.

In the other cases linked throughout this piece and others like it here, life isn’t going to play out like that. These stories, like those of countless others throughout generations of immigrants, are people who have sincerely pined and wanted a better life, a new present and future that America represents, in order to escape their current present and the horrors of their past.

Now on some level, the arguments for some type or political reform to address strengthening and assessing our defense against terrorists taking on the guise of refugees to slip through the cracks, are understandable. I am all for public/national safety and strengthening defense. In a just way.

But we cannot lose our humanity in the process.

Implementing sweeping change without adequate care surely leads to chaos. Creating initiatives that discriminate will only serve to sow discord, empowering those who hate us further.

You have a chance 45, a slim chance to enact change, and for better or worse, we are all along for the ride. Where 44 said to root that you succeed because we will all benefit, I’m trying to be hopeful.

My belief in human goodness as a collective truth of love and compassion trumping hate is hanging on by a thread. Please put down the scissors.

#AlohaKeAkua #AlohaHarder #MahaloKeAkua

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