Born and raised in Honolulu
Kailua-Kona transplant six years and counting
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.