Week 2

I am glad both of these articles were assigned with each other. Laenui’s seems so simplistic and hopeful and that is countered by Tuck & Yang’s saying that all of those metaphors are a bad thing. Not to say that Laenui only spoke in metaphors; I think the stage of mourning was very concrete. But the stages of rediscovery/recovery and dreaming are pretty out there. All the while, I see why they are so necessary. In her intro, Alysa wrote about how decolonization cannot occur if we are using the same templates that the oppressors have created. I could not agree more.

After reading both articles, I am hesitant to pinpoint where I am in the decolonization process (after all, the Tuck & Yang article said I would be). I feel like me talking about decolonization is as inauthentic as it gets. I am white, I am privileged, and I feel like I do not deserve a part in any of it. In essence, I am harming others just by being “me”. Reading both articles took me back to a Peace and Justice studies course I took at Tufts in undergrad. I vividly remember talking about the injustices of the world (I understand that making it a metaphor further perpetuates the colonizer mindset) and looking around the room and realizing that it was such a one-sided conversation with a bunch of yuppies “playing Indian”.

Sure, I would love to be a part of the conversation. And yes, I think I have something to offer as, sometimes, my conscience is burdened with these thoughts. I honestly don’t know if decolonization makes sense for me at this point in time. Whatever I try to do in the process of decolonization will never be enough and will never be seen as being truly authentic. My son was given a Hawaiian inoa by my aunty (my best friend’s mom) who is Native Hawaiian. I’m not native Hawaiian and neither is my husband. Although we were born and raised here, and my husband’s family has been here for 7 generations, it still seems like a farce to call him by his Hawaiian name. To me, this is sad because we were given it at a gift and the meaning has really grown on him. And yet, this will always be considered cultural appropriation to most.

I also think of the de-occupy movements and where I fit in (or don’t fit in for that matter). If you’ve ever lived on Oahu, you have seen those green “Keep The Country, Country” bumper stickers created by the Defend Oahu Coalition, which campaigns against aspects of colonization. I love this organization and am very close friends with some of its founders. In high school, I had that bumper sticker on my car and proudly drove it around. Meanwhile, my dad was the primary investor in the Turtle Bay Resort, one of the main things the Defend Oahu Coalition was against. The money he made developing that project is what bought me that car I had the sticker on and sent me to school for all these years. How can I reconcile wanting to be a part of the movement if I am the number one thing exploiting it?

In short, I don’t think I am in any process of decolonization. I am realistically still in the first stage of colonization. I am aware I’m the problem and yet, totally perplexed as to how I can be a part of the solution. Perhaps, my idealist actions like having a Hawaiian name for my son or putting that bumper sticker on are more steps towards reconciliation than decolonization. As a colonizer, it almost lets me get away scot free as if I am doing something to help mend the problem. Part of reconciling is wondering where, exactly, do I fit if decolonization means getting rid of me.

One of my favorite sections of the Tuck & Yang article talked about colonizers’ modes of control. There are many, ranging from prison to common core curriculum, but the one I’m really interested in is the medical system. I wrote about being a birth enthusiast in my introduction blog and a little bit in Joshua’s. His daughter’s birth story is an amazing example of decolonizing birth (Josh, can I please share the link to the story April wrote?) I believe natural birth should be normalized (think of this as a “de-occupy my uterus” movement of sorts) and medical birth reserve for true emergencies. This doesn’t necessarily mean taking down the medical industrial complex (another day), it just means a re-awakening of control and power, taking back birth to a normal, everyday event. Over the last century, the Western medical system had dictated how women should birth and now, slowly, there is a movement to transform birth back to how it’s been since the dawn of time: with women in the driver’s seat. That is just my little spiel about babies… I find that taking the information from this class intertwining is with other aspects of my life helps me to process it a little better. Hope this works for you too!

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6 thoughts on “Week 2

  1. Heavy thoughts. I can relate to NOT relating to decolonization in Hawai`i.

    The pink elephant in the room is that a majority of us are colonizers either generationally (you) or newly (me). Many others are partially colonized and partially indigenous. When thinking about decolonizing Hawai`i, I believe that it’s very natural to go to the place where we ask ourselves “where does that leave me?”

    The Tuck and Yang article describes that full support for decolonization is when colonizers put the needs of indigenous people first and foremost without concern for their needs. I think it’s against human nature to completely ignore your needs. I wish I could say differently, but the fact of the matter is that the decolonization of Hawai`i would result in many of losing our sense of place and “homes.” That’s hard to support.

    I am so with you regarding the colonized healthcare system. I like your perspectives on “de-occupying the uterus,” and giving woman more power and choice in their birthing decisions. I think doctors do try to control our care and choices to avoid liability. Liability opens up another discussion on colonized healthcare—and colonized patients. It’s difficult to practice non-evidence based medicine, natural interventions, and holistic methods due to accountability issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Lauren,
    as always, your words are very articulate and you’re able to share your thoughts and feelings in a way that I’m always able to follow from start to end.
    I think it’s so interesting how we all respond differently to the material presented. As we each filter the articles through our own experiences, knowledge, and background I continue to be fascinated with what comes out of each of us. It helps me see the world in a way I don’t usually see it even when sharing with people I think are very similar to me (since we are all pursing MSW’s I believe we probably share pretty similar world views and value).
    I really felt more drawn to the Laenui article exactly because it wasn’t concrete when compared to the Tuck and Yang article. I think it’s pretty impossible to walk away from the Tuck and Yang article feeling positive about any aspect of our place in the process of colonization since even indigenous populations were found at fault for perpetuating the system. I must say I enjoyed the article but didn’t think it was very balanced. I like to think that there is some good and positive aspects to every situation. In every crisis there is also an opportunity. I also don’t think that all “colonizers” came with the conscience intent and express purpose to annihilate and desecrate all the land and people they could set their greedy little hands on. People are flawed and imperfect. We make pour decisions often. But that’s intricately connected with our wonderful ability to grow and change. So I’d like to grab that thought about you harming others by just being yourself out of your pretty head and toss it out the window. We all need to be more gentle with ourselves. You are here and you are contributing to a very important step in the decolonization process. I’d say let that be enough – for know.
    Sandra
    P.S. totally love your “de-occupy my uterus” stance. couldn’t agree with you more.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lauren-Great post.
    Below is the link to the Article that April wrote about my daughters birth.
    I just wrote a lengthy narrative about her birth in response to your article and it disappeared into thin air. i have no doubt that it is due to the forces that guard her experience and keep that sacred part of her protected. the one comment have to laugh about the most was i wrote that after her tide pool birth April told us how many people had wanted to do what we had done but it never came together for them. she said that people in costa rica where she had lived previously did it as a regular practice but that we as a colonized community lived n too much fear, expectation, “level of standards” thought process to actually pull it off. My daughter picked two parents who were right for the job and we were blessed. We engaged the local community, asked permission of the Kumu’s and spent hours and hours with the land and people of the area making sure it was ok. After her birth i wanted to tell the world but listened to her being, i believe, and she said no. Let me stay simple, pure and “decolonized until i pick which things are important to me. Im still trying to keep it simple for her so she can make her own choices instead of choices being pushed on her . I feel very privileged in this way to have the opportunity to choose. i will say though that the choices most regularly are to have less not more and to live a less colonized lifestyle whenever possible.

    With that said i am still a white male and the product of the mainland. i was fortunate enough to create a life for many years where i traveled the world. it opened my eyes and the people i met were kind and patient enough to help me unwind the colonized patterns that had been placed into me simply for living in a colonized land.

    or maybe it was the small creek i grew up on that still ran through my soul that would and will eternally remind me of the simple pure and uncolonized ways of life. if so thanks to the water i guess and our creator for giving it to us…

    thanks for being who you are

    Josh

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Your blog was very insightful and personal. Feelings of guilt is what I hear from my non-Hawaiian friends and I continue to remind them that they are not responsible for the actions of their ancestors. However, in the same token, I ask for their independent education of the history of Hawaii and the issues that we now bring to the forefront. If they can agree with our stance on independence or at the least, recognize our position as credible and legal, I only ask that they support our cause and stand with the native population on this very personal issue. I have never, however, blamed this generation for what has happened generations ago. I think you bring a very interesting discussion to the table as a non-native. and I would be very interested to further hear your feelings and thoughts as the process of this class proceeds. On the topic of an inoa; if it is given, you are correct, it is a gift. But you are correct, for some, it can be a source of discomfort and resentment. I say this because I was not given a Hawaiian name from my grandmother. I have been hurt from it since. When I asked her why not, she told me that having a Hawaiian name would not benefit me when I entered a profession and that a “Japanese” name would be better! (My mother was part Japanese). For me, it has been a painful reminder of what my kupuna suffered and remained with her till the end of her life and that because of this forced mentality, I lost what a part of my inheritance. What you feel is neither right nor wrong and I appreciate your sensitivity. I come from a partially indigenous and assimilated mentality so this whole process will be an emotional and enlightening experience for me as well. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Lauren! I think the role of non-indigenous people is to be an ally, as Selena describes. Similarly, I hope to be an ally as a straight male to unravel the hegemonic forces of patriarchy and heteronormativity. The outcome may in fact mean that I somehow lose power and privilege and the gains may lead to a happier life not only for myself but for all. If we only think about what we lose from decolonization, then the movement will die, because we need everyone to be involved, not just indigenous people. Additionally, everyone’s view of the outcome differs. In my vision of a decolonized Hawaii, there is a place for all people, indigenous and allies alike.

    Liked by 1 person

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