“On the Fourth of July, the oldest camper unit at Aloha called Club picks a theme and they dress up for their march to Lanakila. As my Club group was deciding on one, someone mentioned that we should dress up like Soundcloud rappers. Soundcloud was a popular app at the time where unknown artists streamed music, a lot of them singers, many rappers. People loved the idea because it was funny…a bunch of rappers who thought they were good but weren’t. It was more about making fun of them. You could dress in a way that generally represented them or you could pick a specific person you wanted to be. People picked Black and Latino rappers, of course, and started brainstorming how they’d dress. People suggested we dress with chains, tattoos, hats, saggy sweatpants, big earrings, and braids.

It was awkward for me as a brown person to hear this, but I didn’t want people to say I was using race or the “black card” because I had a problem with it. Counselors were trying to tell us it was a problem without actually telling us. They didn’t know how to talk to us about these issues. The one Black counselor present was left to tell us what was wrong with it and she was clearly really upset.

When the counselors came back into the shack I was scared because I already knew they were mad and uncomfortable, and I was ready for them to be straight up, but that didn’t happen. We did a blind count between that theme and another one and it was obvious that the counselors lied about the results to get us to do the other theme.

I was secretly relieved. They were making fun of trends made and followed by Black and Latinos. I thought, ‘It didn’t even cross your mind for 0.2 seconds that this could possibly be racist? You have to be told and have it explained?’

I come to camp to not have to deal with issues a 16-year-old shouldn’t have to deal with..stuff like this.

I’ve felt uncomfortable sitting in a room with all white people before, but that day was on another level. Because this time all eyes were on me…they were looking at me for approval on how to make fun of my race.”

—Aloha, Camper, 2018

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