UPDATE: We are happy to announce that Ramin Bastani and the others responsible for this app have changed the name to Healthvana. We do believe that it’s a valuable app and now support it. For more information, please visit http://www.healthvana.com.
This entire incident however has made it very clear to us that so little is understood by the majority of the population on the continent about the people, history and culture of Hawaii, that we feel it necessary to keep this Open Letter online and accessible to the general public. The following should be taken as more an expression of our feelings at the time, and in no way reflect how we currently regard Mr. Bastani and the rest of the Healthvana team. We are extremely grateful that they’ve changed the name and wish them all the luck in the world with their very noble – and now inoffensively named – app.
— Chad Kukahiko (Sept 11th, 2014)
an Open Letter to Ramin Bastani, Founder and CEO of the offensively named “Hula” app:
Dear Mr. Bastani,
Who do you think you are to claim the name of our sacred dance? We Hawaiians are not cartoon characters for you to mock. The name Hula does not belong to you.
Kumu Hula spend years and years earning the right to teach real hula to their students, and yet with a couple of legal filings and a press release or two you suddenly you think you can claim the entire word as your own? I don’t care how “useful” your STDs app may be. I don’t care how much “understanding” you claim to be “gaining” about our culture. You have no right to ownership of a word which does not belong to you, just as I have no right to move all my stuff into your home or condo or apartment in Los Angeles and claim that as my own.
As you can tell, I feel no obligation to be civil in this matter because I see your offensive presumptuousness as equally lacking in civility. I am disgusted and livid beyond words, that we as a people and as a culture matter so little to you that you think you can mock our culture and history with impunity. I’m sure by now you have an inkling of how many Native Hawaiians were wiped out by venereal disease in the early years of western contact, but do you also know the history of the sugar cane plantations or the Honolulu ghettos of the early 1900s or the awful story of Thalia Massie and Joe Kahahawai? Do you have any idea how few full-blooded Hawaiians exist today? European culture nearly wiped out our entire language and we barely saved that in recent decades, but here you are laying claim to one of our one remaining sacred forms of art – our most important cultural possession?!
Change the name, Mr. Bastani. Please for God’s sake see how offensive this is and correct this mistake now.
If you are as disgusted as I am about this … please sign the petition and tweet to @GetHula & @RaminB: “#NameItAfterYourMom”