Week 1

Born and raised in Honolulu

Kailua-Kona transplant six years and counting

I am

Filipino-American, mamma extraordinaire, one of nineteen first cousins, Katherine’s little sister

I am a learner

Right now, I think I have a pretty narrow conception of what colonization/decolonization is. When I think of colonization in Hawaii, I think primarily about the annexation and statehood. I hope to learn about how far reaching colonization was and still is in Hawaii and be able to pick up on the subtler ways colonization can occur.

I am a teacher

It’s an honor to be able to contribute a different perspective to this class. Although my story is not unique, it is certainly my own. My maternal grandparents emigrated from the Philippines when they were recruited by HC&S to work in Puunene, Maui. Their story is such a part of my identity and it is the lens in which I view a lot of Hawaii’s history. I hope that my perspective can enhance the conversation we have about colonization/decolonization but I also hope I will be able to separate the two and see things in a new light.

My starting point

When I think of decolonization I think of amending wrongdoings that foreigners, missionaries, and settlers have done to indigenous people knowingly and unknowingly.  Decolonizing can mean anything from relearning a native language, calling place names by their original names, integrating old spiritual beliefs and rituals, protecting and reforesting native plans, and eating pono.

The word “anti-establishment” also comes to mind when I think of decolonization. Primarily because much of the establishment is made up of colonizers changing the original landscape. “Anti-establishment” can sound a little harsh but I don’t think it has to be too extreme. I think for many people decolonization can simply mean to seceded from the government. There are many scales in which decolonization can occur. To me personally, decolonization looks like breastfeeding my son and feeding him locally sourced, organic food. As a wannabe doula, this is protecting native birthing practices and natural remedies and medicine. And as a board member for my local food bank, this is starting a program that supports our local farmers by buying their excess produce and being able to feed the community something other than canned Spam.

Where Social Work Ties In

The effects of colonization are long-lasting. Although people may have felt more of an impact while major colonization was actively happening, its effects are multi-generational and can still be felt today. Social workers in Hawaii need to be sensitive to this and attuned to how it will influence the people they work with. Understanding the importance of decolonization will inform our practice and help us better serve the community.


10 thoughts on “Week 1

  1. Lauren–I’m right there with you on the forefront of “decolonizing” the notion that we must hide ourselves when we breastfeed in public. Although you say that you don’t have too much of a background in the colonization/decolonization, I see the base of knowledge that you currently possess as a very excelled standpoint to start from. I like the point that you made about the process of decolonization, which very much relates to Laenui’s article about Decolonization. It breaks my heart to think that natural childbirth and breastfeeding in public have become seen as something that only “savage” people do or people without “ethics” or “morals.” I think our culture in America is the “savage” ones with the oversexualization of the woman’s body; thereby making breastfeeding one’s child in public seem unnatural and society makes it feel like we’re wrong.

    I’ll jump off the soapbox (for now)…that’s a topic that can get my blood heated because I see so many indigenous cultures and people from other foreign countries doing these things without fear of being ostracized from their own culture and nation.

    Anyway, I’m so glad to have you by my side throughout this class–there’s so much to learn about one another (ex: I had no idea you’re Filipino), and I’m excited to take this journey with you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Aloha! Nice to “meet” you as well! I really enjoyed your perspective on colonization and decolonization as it relates to your family and heritage. I like that you associated “decolonization” to “anti-establishment”. As of right now, that makes up my understanding of decolonization. The process of returning to a persons roots usually conflicts with the establishment currently in place. I like that you already touched upon some things that you are currently doing to “decolonize” yourself. I’m still thinking about ways that I can decolonize in my life and you’ve given me some great examples! It doesn’t have to be drastic change; it can be as simple as using local sources like you mentioned. Thank you for your post! I look forward to reading more as we delve deeper into this topic!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Lauren! Yes, your comments as others have mentioned is a great starting point for understanding colonization and decolonization. It is so important for us to understand that colonization is not a thing of the past and is something that still occurs today globally. It is also part of our minds and not just indigenous or people of color. Hopefully, I’ll be elaborating more on this in my own blog. Mahalo for your contribution and great to meet you! Mike

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aloha Lauren. As Sharla and Ashley posted, I also really like your use of the term “anti-establishment.” Since the word and construct of decolonization are new to many of us, I think your term sums the concept up in a familiar language.

    While getting to know you this past semester, I observed that your passion for mothering and nurturing is remarkable. This passion is apparent in your post and commitment to the practice of breastfeeding and nutrition; you have even managed to connect breastfeeding to decolonization. I’m impressed since I would probably never have thought the two are related. Your views have challenged my ignorance. I envision you doing HUGE things in social work relating to breastfeeding, parenting, maternal wellness, and child rearing. I look forward to you being a part of my journey and me in yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with your comment that decolonization can mean different things to people. You gave a good example how it applies to you and how you choose to raise your family. I have read everything available with regard to the sovereignty issue here in our home and we all have different ideas of what decolonization can look out. For me, I view it as being able to afford individuals an option to choose from. Choices; freedoms within the law as how one wants to live; freedom from materialistic and capitalistic values without judgment; freedom from the status quo without condemnation; and etc. I commend you for choosing what you believe is best for your family despite outside pressures to conform to other’s opinions. Nursing our babies is the most normal thing in the world and I don’t understand how it became unnatural to do so in public. Again, when I think decolonization, I consider the choice to live traditionally without outside interference and negative comment. Looking forward to sharing with you in class.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Lauren!
    Thank you for that photo. You’re family is beautiful!
    I am very happy to be in a class with you again. The way you articulate things has always helped me to understand class topics. Your work has always reflected your intelligence and I am really looking forward to learning more about your family’s experience in Hawaii. It sounds fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Between the ways you choose to nourish your son and the program you’re starting as a local food bank member, it sounds like you’re already a successful participant in decolonization processes Lauren.
    I resonate with the your hope to utilize the insights from the lens of our history while also developing new perspectives from which to view colonization/decolonization.
    Your mention of “the subtler ways colonization can occur” got me thinking of the micro aggressions/mosquito bites video. Some of those those “bites” seemed they could happen rather subtly, especially if delivered and/or received unconsciously.
    The way you mentioned multigenerational effects of when colonization was active made me wonder about what things can be decolonized, and what things are non-decolonizable.
    I look forward to learning more with you throughout this class and semester.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Lauren! I am so glad we are in this class together. You always have something witty and intelligent to offer. First, I loved both of your photos. A four generation pic is something to be cherished and I love that your son is so comfortable (and adorable) in the water!

    I find it fascinating that your grandparents came to work for HC&S, such a massive portion of Hawaii’s history. Your comment about decolonization as a form of making amends really caused me to think because I had only viewed it as a way to move forward and do better, but not as a way to acknowledge the “wrongness” of it all. Thank you. I also liked how you provided examples of what decolonization can look like. Anti-Establishment is another concept I had not thought of and I agree. I moved here in 2008, in 2009 there were a group of retired people from the mainland who were trying to tell the locals they could not sell their fish, fruit, etc. on the side of the road. I was completely floored and horrified by that and your statements on Anti-Establishment brought up those intense emotions again. I am grateful to be in this class and help tear down those who wish to continue to decolonize.

    Your doula aspirations are super cool and I tremendously respect you being on the Food Bank board! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Lauren- Me and my daughter just visited Manila and went to the most amazing Ocean Park there in the city. The thing i liked the most about the city though was the chrome transportation mini buses. Not sure what they are referred to over there but at first sight I wanted to ship one back to Hawaii. I was amazed as well at how far the dollar went and how great the food was. I hope that the new administration settles a little as it seems the country was or is in a little bit of uproar/difficulty due to the new policies in place over there. We had a blast for our short visit. My daughter still sings
    “Philippines Airlines, heart of the Philipino.”
    Nice to meet you and good luck this semester.

    Liked by 2 people

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