HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 808 Skate shop in Kailua is a skater's dream: boards, accessories and apparel crowd the small space. However, there's one piece of clothing that's causing a huge stir.
"This is our Anti Haole tee shirt". The store's owner, Chuck Mitsui, points to a black tee shirt with yellow lettering that reads simply: Anti Haole.
It's a jarring sight, but as Mitsui explains, it's not a racist slur---it's an inside joke.
"There's a company called Anti Hero which is a skateboard company that's really popular. One of the owners, Julien Stranger, had been coming to Hawaii a lot last year, and in the skater of the year, Thrasher magazine, they had mentioned him as the 'anti-haole'. We thought it was kind of funny, and thought, why don't we make an anti haole shirt in honor of Julien."
When comparing the Anti Haole shirt to the Anti Hero skateboarding logo, one can immediately see the similarities. The fonts are the same, and the lettering is bordered identically.
Though the shirt was meant as an homage to an industry acquaintance, Mitsui can see how some can misconstrue its intended meaning.
"I can see where the outrage comes from, but I urge people to be a little more open minded about it. I think when people react to things it's where their mind is. Skateboarders---they're going straight to [the] Anti Hero [brand]."
Mitsui is unapologetic about living the skateboard subculture. He says it's one of acceptance and camaraderie. He's also half-Japanese and half-Scottish, and dismisses the notion that others may think him racist.
"I really hope people don't misunderstand this and see it for what it is, see life with a little bit of humor and respect the subculture of skateboarding."
Thursday afternoon Mitsui released the following statement:
I am sorry if you are offended by the 808 Skate Anti Haole tee.
There is a skateboard company called Anti Hero and is run by a man named Julien Stranger. He has been visiting Hawaii quite a bit and was quoted in Thrasher Magazine as being the "Anti Haole".
We enjoyed the humor of the quote and wanted to pass that humor along. We are not saying that we are against Haoles, I myself am originally from San Francisco but have lived her for over half my life, it was more a play on words. Similar to an anti hero, who is the opposite of a hero, we intended this graphic to celebrate people like Julien who are not from here but are embrace by the local skateboarders.
I understand how this might be seen as offensive by someone not familiar with the skateboarding culture, but to our customers this is an inside joke that has been enjoyed by skateboarders of all ethnicities. We will be releasing an online video series with this graphic that features visiting skateboarders, Anti Haoles, who have been embraced by the local skateboarders.
Skateboarding is a subculture with it's own humor and way of looking at life. We are often judged by our actions without people trying to understanding our motives. Similar to us skating in the street for transportation and being judged as reckless delinquents. Skateboarders are one of the most accepting groups of people I have ever experienced. As a culture we celebrate the similarities we find in each other and not the differences of race, age, or social background.
I hope you can understand where we are coming from with this.