Learn About, Teach About And Confront Racism - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

Shawn Malia Kanaiaupuni

Shawn Malia Kanaiaupuni, Ph.D., is CEO and president of Partners in Development Foundation.


Partners in Development Foundation joins our brothers, sisters and friends across the nation and the Pacific who are committed to social change and realizing a just and equitable world, and who are fighting to overcome centuries of dehumanization and systemic racism faced by Black people, Indigenous people and other communities of color.

This is the time to raise our voices and stand together.

We must raise our voices in solidarity to combat what we otherwise condone by remaining silent. We must identify and name the problems in order to own them and address them. We must acknowledge that racism pervades our lives in insidious ways, sometimes unrecognizably because it is painted as the norm.

End Racism painting on the bottom floor of building at the intersection of Kaheka Street and King Street. June 25, 2020

We must not allow ourselves to look away from the stark picture of systemic racism, as this painting on a building at the intersection of Kaheka and King Streets reminds us.

We cannot be silent about it; we cannot fail to see it. This is a time to stop and think about what is pono — what is right.

The data reflects the realities of racism and injustice, from the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 within communities of color to the egregious examples of race-based violence and police brutality that continue to surface across our communities.

The ingrained cycle of what led to the wrongful deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and countless others must be known. These examples further highlight a fundamentally flawed criminal justice system that repeatedly fails to provide justice for all.

We must not allow ourselves to look away from the stark picture of systemic racism. Cultural restorative traditions would call us to come to the table openly, with humility, willing to accept accountability, with the intent to face issues within ourselves and outside ourselves to make them right.

Facing the issues is the first step to creating change. We must learn about, teach about, and confront racism in our educational and governing systems so that we can recognize and end it. Ignorance is not an excuse; silence is not acceptable.

Don’t look to those who are in denial, look to the face of those of truth.

As a closing thought, in Hawaiian culture, our kupuna lead by the values of aloha and lokahi, magnifying the principles of love and compassion and uniting harmony, humility, and perseverance.

Partners in Development Foundation is committed to these values. We continue to envision a world that is just and equitable for all. We are committed to strengthening communities and families, to leading with love and the conviction that everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive.

Although the gravity of the injustices across our nation are immense, we believe in the power of community, the possibility that comes when we work together, and that love will overcome hate.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.


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About the Author

Shawn Malia Kanaiaupuni

Shawn Malia Kanaiaupuni, Ph.D., is CEO and president of Partners in Development Foundation.


Latest Comments (0)

If we as individuals can tap into an inner sense of respect and curiosity, then I wonder if venues of personal story-telling might be a means to evercome ignorance, prejudice, and doubt: your story, my story, our neighbor's story. Couple that with plate lunches and progress is bound to establish better understanding if not acquaintances leading to friendship to mutual respect. Idealistic? Of course. It's a start.

DanSSharp · 1 month ago

I'm totally in support of stopping deliberately harmful and racist actions/policies, but what policies are being referenced within our educational and government systems? That is, what specific policies in modern day favor one homogeneous racial/ethnic group over another?Things like slavery, segregation, native cultural suppression in Hawaii in the 1800s, and Japanese internment were racist policies/actions in the past just to name a few. Wouldn't it be more practical to say the individual in the position of authority is "racist" rather than paint the entire governing system as a racist institution? Otherwise thorough evidence of specific racist policies would need to be produced rather than the actions of individuals within that system.

basic_citizen123 · 1 month ago

Question,  Is it racist that we have person named "Chinky" and a small Hawaiian island called "Chinamans Hat".  Should we in Hawaii also do the right thing and do away with Racism, or is this a Local thing, or a Luna making fun of a culture?  We have always made fun of each of our race, funny, but is it Pono!

keoni808 · 1 month ago

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