Kakau, tatau, or tattoo and the specialist

About a year ago one of my specialists highly recommended another guy to work for BPI Security.  He talked this guy up and all of his experience and how he would be an asset to the company.  Then he said, “The only problem is that he has a lot of tattoos.”  I could appreciate his concern about the appearance of the ink, however a huge part of me was not bothered.

I come from a culture where kakau, tatau or as you call them tattoos are acceptable.  In the Polynesian culture our tattoos tell a story of our lineage, family, demi-gods and rank.  I have a chest plate that connects to a 3/4 sleeve on my right side that is specific to me and my Hawaiian heritage.  I also have one that is on my right leg from my ankle to my knee.  As a side note I also have 11 brands.  My tattoos are a Hawaiian story and to the naked eye it’s art.  The only other ones that I have is a head shot of Ali’i Nui King Kamehameha and an additional one on my left shoulder that says “Maka u’ole” which means fearless.

As long as tattoos are not tasteless and offensive it does not bother me one bit, however in the end I have to consider the culture of the specific client we are working and the possibility of them seeing the tattoos.  If we are in short sleeve shirts with a corporate CEO and a specialist has a USMC tattoo on his arm I am not bothered.  But if the same specialist has any derogatory ink that will be exposed, I will have to make a decision. Given that same derogatory ink this same specialist would, in most cases fit right in with a music  industry protectee.  Different client culture different outlook.

Tattoos are like billboards and in my culture they all have a meaning.  The purists in the Polynesian culture are even very particular on who they go to in order to get the ritualistic work done.  We believe that the person that does the work passes his/her mana [spiritual powers] onto you.  There are people who have a series of tattoos on their bodies that have no meaning and their bodies look like graffiti.  If this is you, you may have a hard time with placement on a detail where they may be exposed.  If you are working high threat/PSD it really won’t matter.

Understand that cultures [client and geographic] can dictate how acceptable they are.  In fact, if you go to a hotel in Maui and approach the front desk, the concierge may have half of his face tattooed with a Maori design and that is fine in that culture.  That same concierge would have difficulty in job placement at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC.  In this case his working environment and client environment are not as giving as it would be back home on Maui Nei.


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