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Family Activism

Social activism in our family was first planted while I was still a young single college student in the early 90’s attending UCLA. That is where I participated in my very first protest and hunger strike to get the César E. Chávez Center for Interdisciplinary Instruction in Chicana and Chicano Studies. That experience forever ingrained in me the importance of mobilization and the power of peaceful demonstrating.

Fast forward many years later and I’m married with our daughter. When she was a toddler, we attended the Kū I Ka Pono march in Waikiki commemorating the one year anniversary of the original March in 2003. I told my husband that we are heading into Waikiki to show our unity in the mobilization effort for Kanaka rights that were being challenged at that time. I explained to my husband that I had every intention in raising our family to be social activists and that they know that their voices have power and can always be used to advocate for social justice. I wanted to raise our indigenous babies to know that they carry with them the legacy of peoples who have had to resist to exist and now they must carry on that responsibility.

Our daughter was just shy of 18 months when she first marched that day on September 6, 2004. My son was all of three months old when I placed him in the double stroller next to his then two and a half year old sister on August 6, 2005 and pushed them up Nuʻuanu Avenue on my 32nd Birthday while my husband was at work. This march was from the State Capitol to Mauna Ala and to protest the change in admissions policy for Kamehameha Schools. I knew I had to lead by example and that this needed to be the norm for them.

My mother always raised me with the phrase “Hay que empezar en la casa primero” (you should always start in your home first). With that in mind, our family has been involved in many local protests such as lack of funds for Hawaiian language education, GMO land leasing, Mauna Kea, windmills in Kahuku and Hūnānāniho. Our involvement in these protests vary from cause to cause, from signing petitions, buying t-shirts and other items that give 100% proceeds to causes, to actually sleeping on Mauna Kea with our gas masks and ear plugs ready to join the line. There is no right or wrong way to get involved in a cause and never be intimidated to lend your voice to causes that benefit our most vulnerable.

Now 15 years later, I can tell you that those seeds we planted when our children were young are now sprouting. There was a period in their early adolescence where they would hem and haw about having to march and hold signs in the hot sun but those years went by quickly. Now I am happy to say that both our teens are aware of local and global issues and we discuss them and talk about ways to support those causes that we hold close to our hearts. Just recently, my now 17 year old daughter drove herself to her first protest for Black Lives Matter and met up with her friends to march.

Every family has their own set of values and principals. For us, one of the top ones is social justice issues and advocating for those whose voices are not being heard. Our hope for our children is that they become global thinkers who act and work on the local level first and foremost. With so much injustice around the world and even in our backyard, it is important to prioritize in order to avoid burnout. Make it a family affair and spread the responsibility among family members. Lead by example and know that there is no effort too little to not be appreciated.

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