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Lili'uokalani was the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii (1795-1893). This song is so hackneyed that it's embarrassing to write about, but I suspect the vast majority of people don't know who Lili'uokalani was, so I'm primarily writing this to pay her a tribute. I'm not taking anything away from the song - it's beautiful - but it's just so overplayed that it's like someone from Mongolia meeting you over there and asking if you know Michael Jordan (don't laugh - a variation of this happened to me on the Moscow Metro). Anyway, it's nearly 140-years-old, and more importantly, it was composed by the Kingdom of Hawaii's last monarch, which is really quite fascinating. Hopefully, this post will give the tune some of the respect that it deserves; I cannot say much more without sounding forced. If this vacuous thread could spawn a lengthy discussion of Hawaii - its culture, its history, its music, its cuisine - I'd be a hapa guy (well, not technically, but at least in spirit).
The painting I refer to above is here: "Jack Johnson, World's First Black Boxing Champion, was Jailed Under Jim Crow. Will He Get a Posthumous Pardon?" by Sarah Kaplan on washingtonpost.com Please read the above story. My contention is based on these simple three words: "It's about race." If you buy that, please keep reading in earnest; if you don't, I value and welcome your differing opinions. Jack Johnson was the child of former slaves, and rose to become the world's first black Heavyweight Boxing Champion. The article goes into sufficient detail about his life where I don't need to (I absolutely *love* the story of him giving the officer a $100 bill - it's great!) There is no question in *my* mind that, yes, "It's about race," and Jack Johnson should receive a full Presidential pardon. But. I believe that pardon needs to come from a white President, not President Obama. Before you launch into me, hear me out. If it's about race, what "good" does it do, in terms of advancing race relations, for a black President to pardon Jack Johnson? Yes, it would right a wrong on an individual level, and yes, black people have every right to say, "We don't *want* help from white people." I understand and agree with both of those sentiments. But for the mending between our races to move forward, we need to have a white person (I fell into the trap of typing "white man" before correcting myself) pardon Mr. Johnson for reasons that are, in my eyes, obvious. No white people would be able to accuse "some black President of taking care of one of his own"; they'd be forced to come to terms with reality, although I can easily see some residual racists claiming that "it's a liberal that dun' it." This has nothing to do with liberal or conservative, but it *does* have to do with race. A very credible, logical argument can also be made that the real issue is that it has less to do with race than it does the most basic tenet of all: "right vs. wrong," and I have no logical argument against that (nor would I *want* to argue against that). So, without getting long-winded, if President Obama doesn't pardon Jack Johnson, I propose that our next President does, and everything and everyone (society, race relations, black people, white people, Mr. Johnson's descendents, and most importantly, Mr. Johnson's Legacy) will benefit the most from his pardon being issued by a white President; my only sadness is that he wouldn't be around to see it, but most great recognitions in this world occur posthumously.