For better than a year apparently, Chicago based business Aloha Poke Co has sent cease and desist letters to any business with ‘Aloha’ and ‘Poke’ in their name, according to tweets and reports. It seemed to have recently been boosted into a wider audience with a Facebook video though the actions by this company appear to have been ongoing for some time.
ChicagoEater.com published an article almost a year about about the cease and desist letters being sent to businesses. You can read it from this link.
In a follow up article on the same site, the founder of the company claimed, “Unfortunately, many facts about the company’s name have been left out of the conversation on social media…” and then seemed to not elaborate from the content of the article.
Finally, the Aloha Poke Co. felt that they apologized as suggested by another ChicagoEater.com article here. From the article: “Aloha Poke also claims they’ve sent out letters “in a cooperative matter” and haven’t resorted to suing a business or forced any restaurant to close.” Yet a small family business of Native Hawaiians in Alaska felt threatened even as they complied and changed the name of their business of “Aloha Poke Stop” to “Lei’s Poke Shop”.
The fact that Native Hawaiians felt forced to change business names when some of them were in operation prior to Aloha Poke Co. coming into being is tragic. “Aloha” and “poke” are intertwined in Native Hawaiian culture and “Aloha” most definitely belongs to them.
Would it not be easier for the colonizer founder to change the name of their company out of respect for Native Hawaiians rather than force the people from whom the term “Aloha” originates to stop using their language? Surely there are better names that celebrate his non-Native Hawaiian appreciation that doesn’t appropriate a culture that is not his.
Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter from the hashtag #NoAlohaPokeCo:
@AlohaPokeCo is threatening Kanaka Maoli business owners for using the terms “Aloha” and “Poke”. Excuse me; BUT when a white business owner tells people that they have no right to use their own words and their own food — they can go to hell. #NoAlohaPokeCo
— RogueScholar (@thepellareport) July 28, 2018
A poke bowl shop owner in the Midwest thinks he owns the word “Aloha.” He’s even suing Native Hawaiians. Here’s my response:
— Kaniela Ing (@KanielaIng) July 29, 2018
— mary queen of thots (@CarlyRaePrEPsen) July 29, 2018
So Zach Friedlander (@Zacharydaquiry), a white business owner, trademarked the phrase “Aloha Poke.” He then started suing Native Hawaiians for using the phrase for their shops.
You can learn more by going to the #NoAlohaPokeCo hashtag.
— X (@XLNB) July 29, 2018
@AlohaPokeCo Your sorry apology doesn’t cut it. You use cultural appropriation 4 profit, then set lawyers on kanaka maoli, forcing them 2 pay great costs 2 change their name, even though they were in biz years before you. More colonizer BS & Hawaii is tired of it. #NoAlohaPokeCo
— Jennisys Blackman🤟🏳️🌈🤙 (@akashastrega) July 31, 2018
You’re supposed to live Aloha not trademark it.#NoAlohaPokeCo
— Dariel Riece (@jediriece) July 30, 2018
I am as Casper, mayo on fries eating, craft beer drinking, white as it comes and even I know that’s not a poke bowl. 🤦🏻♀️ Take your racist deconstructed sushi roll and go else where. #NoAlohaPokeCo #noaloha next you’re gonna be putting pineapples in shit they don’t go in
— Marie Vance (@miamiadoll) July 31, 2018
While I support this, please be aware that Zach Friedlander is NO LONGER CEO, and has had no company influence for several months. There is zero need to attack him, as this wasn’t his decision. https://t.co/GWqRSpk1yZ
— ski-mask way (@bdcruz7) July 31, 2018
The interesting about this argument is the fact that these cease and desist letters have been happening for almost a year.
— alden (@aldentanaka) July 31, 2018
gtfo @AlohaPokeCo it should be you that renames your unauthentic poke chain. Non-POC who capitalize on POC food and culture are so ignorant and privileged. #zachfriedlander – get your head out of ass and understand why this angers and hurts people so deeply. #NoAlohaPokeCo https://t.co/KWfRQYLCNn
— Olivia Mekdara (@OliviaMekdara) July 31, 2018