Dear Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,
You don’t know me, of course.
I was once one of your adoring fans,
captivated by your wide smile,
your muscled humor,
your bulging, pulsating, titillating
Then one day you lent your voice
to a singing and dancing mockery
of my fisher of islands,
my keeper of fire,
my kupua from moananuiākea,
And I remembered what Maui once said,
“Moʻa aʻela no kā ka ʻalae haupī.”
Some people are selfish,
some seek only for themselves,
some have little regard for the oceans
You claimed belonging, riding the back of
the one who slowed the sun,
the one who made the day longer,
the one who punished the selfish ʻalae
and stole her fire
so that we could cook.
And boy did we cook.
We even cooked Cook,
ending his syphilis spreading,
of the Pacific.
We restored a sense of “pacificness,”
by burning his color of violence,
filling our bellies with his history,
to let it rage in the pit of our stomachs
where fire burns
and births islands.
Our islands once housed you,
gave you a place to become a rock,
shaping and shining your rough edges,
so that you could fit in,
throw your shaka in the air,
and call us “home.”
Now, here’s a lesson from home,
one you need to hear,
and here’s a reminder,
one you need to recall,
and here’s a warning,
one you need to heed.
Take heed, Dwayne “The Rock” Jonhson.
I heard you hope to achieve
academy award celebrity
on the back of my chief, my ancestor,
my muscled memory of Kohala,
But you will be mehameha.
You will be lonely in your pursuit,
because my history is not a backdrop,
to your story of success.
And my chief
is not a stepping stone.
He lifted stones,
overturning naha larger than you,
sealing his fate as a conqueror,
and his role as warrior
who craved the eyes of niuhi,
before he was even born.
He was born of and for greatness.
And you, you cannot “play” greatness,
cannot bench press your way into my history,
cannot laugh or smile into ʻĀwini,
the valley that raised him:
sharp and rough.
This is my sharp and rough refusal
of everything you have claimed:
you say you want to tell the story
of the legendary chief
who’s “fabled” life lay the foundation
for the 50th state.
But the real fable is the state,
the fake ass state,
with their fake ass claims,
who occupies my land,
and keeps my people
We’re hungry, starving for pono
for a restoration of balance,
of the right to shape and tell
our own stories.
So you would be wise to remember our story.
My kūpuna, they sang songs of protest
against the loss of their kingdom,
the overthrow of their queen,
the taking of their ea,
their life, their breath.
And they let that breath out in song:
“Ua lawa mākou i ka pōhaku”, they sang.
We can eat stones, they said,
we can endure, they promised,
and we can survive
off of rocks.
So, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,
If I must, if I am pushed,
I can and I will
eat rocks again,
even captivating, smiling, titillating ones
– Emalani Case