“Sex, hula, and naked ladies!”
I had just asked a class of 11th-grade U.S. literature and history students in Portland, Ore., what images come to mind when I say the word “Hawai’i.” I received a volley of stereotypical responses: blue water, beaches, coconuts, sun, surf, luau, hotels, paradise, pineapple, palm trees, vacation, Waikiki, volcanoes, and of course, “sex, hula, and naked ladies.”
This particular answer, given by an enthusiastic young man, was different than most because of its honesty about the sexual overtones the mystique of Hawai’i holds in the “American” mind. To me, what was most significant about his remark was not just its honesty, but that it shows the need for a more critical examination of the history, politics, and culture of Hawai’i in our classrooms.
This lesson was published in Rethinking Our Classrooms, Volume 2: Teaching For Equity and Justice. For more lessons like “What the Tour Guide Didn’t Tell Me: Tourism, Colonialism, and Resistance in Hawai’i,” order Rethinking Our Classrooms, Vol.2 with a rich new collection of from-the-classroom articles, curriculum ideas, lesson plans, poetry, and resources — all grounded in the realities of school life. See Table of Contents.