How About Preserving Obama’s Childhood Home? - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Jonathan Likeke Scheuer

Born and raised in Hawaii, Jonathan Likeke Scheuer is a consultant who helps clients manage environmental conflict.

With our masks on and our hearts open, what might we do, here and now?

How might we in Hawaii act in relationship to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the following and ongoing protests and violence?

What should we in Hawaii do about the ongoing violence towards black lives and bodies in the United States?

What might we do that responds to this moment, in a way that moves us all forward — and honors our home’s complex history around race?

Are there actions that might simultaneously honor our home’s relationship to these issues elsewhere in the United States?

President Barack Obama waves to audience after foundation speech at the East West Center.
A childhood home of Barack Obama on Oahu could be turned into a historic home. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

One very small thing (for individuals moved) would be to donate to one local organization that engages in these issues.

In their own words, the Popolo Project “is a Hawaii-based nonprofit organization that redefines what it means to be Black in Hawaii and in the world through cultivating radical reconnection to ourselves, our community, our ancestors, and the land, changing what we commonly think of as Local and highlighting the vivid, complex diversity of Blackness.”

One slightly larger thing we could do as a community: purchase the home Barack Obama lived in from ages 3 to 6, which is on the market. Perhaps some COVID-19 economic development funds could help, along with small and large donations.

Sharing Black History

The purpose of the acquisition would not just be preservation, an important objective on its own for this historic home. Ideally, a state, county, or nonprofit purchaser would also then dedicate the space to sharing black history in Hawaii and helping current related programs.

One key related activity should be to serve as a locus for digitally collecting the voluminous evidence of President Obama’s birth in Hawaii. By necessity this would also involve documenting the racist vitriol claiming that he was not (some of which was perpetuated by the current president).

Perhaps some COVID-19 economic development funds could help.

Attacks against the people of Hawaii due to our ancestries, which question our ability to be full members of national and international communities, have been ongoing since before the establishment of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

The coordinated attacks against Obama’s birth inevitably were embedded in the history of these earlier assaults on the racial make-up of the islands and our capabilities.

This act to protect his childhood home and document the common sense we all know about his origins would also be a collective statement about ourselves and our role in the world.

After Hawaii’s failed (and always aspirational) bid to host the Obama presidential library, we have been strangely silent in our pursuit of local honors for our last president. It seems that this action now would be a good start, our next most elegant step during a tumultuous time.

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About the Author

Jonathan Likeke Scheuer

Born and raised in Hawaii, Jonathan Likeke Scheuer is a consultant who helps clients manage environmental conflict.


Latest Comments (0)

Honoring President Obama is a great idea. I think it would be an even greater honor to have a full size statue as well. However, this should be done by voluntary contributions. Not by the use of taxpayer funding. 

WaikikiBill · 2 years ago

When a people start treating Presidents like a monarch or a rockstar, they deserve TrumpFor crying out loud, we are a republic. Ask Obama if he wants to preserve his childhood home, and if he says yes, give him the bill. He can afford it. 

CitizenX · 2 years ago

Laughable idea for a state/county that can’t decide what to do with the natatorium.

WhatMeWorry · 2 years ago

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