“Aloha Poke” Controversy Sparks Conversation on Cultural Appropriation
Aloha Poke Co., a Chicago-based fast food chain that serves poke, a traditional Hawaiian dish, sparked controversy last month. The company sent out cease-and-desist letters to business owners with both the words “aloha” and “poke” in their titles. The letters claimed that the phrases “Aloha” and “Aloha Poke” belonged to the company, and any use of them by other businesses infringed on its federal trademark. One indigenous-owned company in Hawaii received the letter, sparking a social media outcry. Activists were outraged that Aloha Poke Co., a company owned by non-Hawaiians, would claim ownership over their language and culture. In Chicago this past weekend, activists protested outside of Aloha Poke. Hawaiian advocacy groups plan to build a legal case against the Chicago eatery. Joining us to discuss cultural appropriation is Hannah Ii-Epstein, a Chicago-based playwright, and James O. Young, professor of philosophy at the University of Victoria, Canada.