“Native Hawaiian #Ownvoices:” The Non-Fiction Edition

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It’s November 9th.

Perhaps you don’t know, but on November 9th 1938, Nazis launched the Kristallnacht. Never forget! Today Neonazis are marching and celebrating.

And today, Americans voted a fascist into office. Today, Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States.

I’m so worried for you, my friends! This is horrifying and I know you will be hit the hardest. I wish I could at least be there for real hugs!

I have thought about not posting today, you need time to mourn to steal yourself for this even more explicit racist society you’re living in. I have decided to go ahead, because I still believe that diverse literature can effect real change. And so I want this blog on November 9th, 2016, to push PoC lit by focusing on indigenous #ownvoices literature.

Wonderful Brendon at Reading and Gaming for Justice is hosting the “Native Hawaiian #OwnVoices” blog event, to promote Native Hawaiian voices, to educate ourselves on our own blind spots (settler colonialism for example). Read all about it here. I have decided on non-fiction, to get you all to put some of these on your #nonfictionnovember lists and because I think, like myself, you perhaps also need some background literature. I know many of the are academic texts and there are concerns of accessibility. But I hope many of you can and will give these a try. I hope I’ll find some more accessible texts in the future, but I also love to discuss because often understanding texts happens in group discussions.

aloha-betrayed

gr-picAloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance o American Colonialism by Noenoe K. Silva

In 1897, as a white oligarchy made plans to allow the United States to annex Hawai’i, native Hawaiians organized a massive petition drive to protest. Ninety-five percent of the native population signed the petition, causing the annexation treaty to fail in the U.S. Senate. This event was unknown to many contemporary Hawaiians until Noenoe K. Silva rediscovered the petition in the process of researching this book. With few exceptions, histories of Hawai’i have been based exclusively on English-language sources. They have not taken into account the thousands of pages of newspapers, books, and letters written in the mother tongue of native Hawaiians. By rigorously analyzing many of these documents, Silva fills a crucial gap in the historical record. In so doing, she refutes the long-held idea that native Hawaiians passively accepted the erosion of their culture and loss of their nation, showing that they actively resisted political, economic, linguistic, and cultural domination. (Duke UP)

a-nation-rising

gr-picA Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land, and  Sovereignity by Noelani Goodyear-Ka’opua, Ikaika Hussey, Erin Kuhanawaika’ala Wright, eds.

A Nation Rising chronicles the political struggles and grassroots initiatives collectively known as the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Scholars, community organizers, journalists, and filmmakers contribute essays that explore Native Hawaiian resistance and resurgence from the 1970s to the early 2010s. Photographs and vignettes about particular activists further bring Hawaiian social movements to life. The stories and analyses of efforts to protect land and natural resources, resist community dispossession, and advance claims for sovereignty and self-determination reveal the diverse objectives and strategies, as well as the inevitable tensions, of the broad-tent sovereignty movement. The collection explores the Hawaiian political ethic of ea, which both includes and exceeds dominant notions of state-based sovereignty. A Nation Rising raises issues that resonate far beyond the Hawaiian archipelago, issues such as Indigenous cultural revitalization, environmental justice, and demilitarization. (Duke uP)

seeds-we-planted

gr-picThe Seeds We Planted: Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter School by Noelani Goodyear-Ka’opua

The Seeds We Planted tells the story of Hālau Kū Māna, one of the only Hawaiian culture-based charter schools in urban Honolulu. Against the backdrop of the Hawaiian struggle for self-determination and the U.S. charter school movement, Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua reveals a critical tension: the successes of a school celebrating indigenous culture are measured by the standards of settler colonialism. (UP Minnesota)

voices-of-fire

gr-picVoices of Fire: Reweaving the Literary Lei of Pele and Hi’iaka
by Ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui

Stories of the volcano goddess Pele and her youngest sister Hi‘iaka, patron of hula, are most familiar as a form of literary colonialism—first translated by missionary descendants and others, then co-opted by Hollywood and the tourist industry. But far from quaint tales for amusement, the Pele and Hi‘iaka literature published between the 1860s and 1930 carried coded political meaning for the Hawaiian people at a time of great upheaval. Voices of Fire recovers the lost and often-suppressed significance of this literature, restoring it to its primary place in Hawaiian culture. (Minnesota UP)

hawaiian-blood

gr-picHawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity
by J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

In the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) of 1921, the U.S. Congress defined “native Hawaiians” as those people “with at least one-half blood quantum of individuals inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778.” This “blood logic” has since become an entrenched part of the legal system in Hawai‘i. Hawaiian Blood is the first comprehensive history and analysis of this federal law that equates Hawaiian cultural identity with a quantifiable amount of blood. J. Kēhaulani Kauanui explains how blood quantum classification emerged as a way to undermine Native Hawaiian (Kanaka Maoli) sovereignty. Within the framework of the 50-percent rule, intermarriage “dilutes” the number of state-recognized Native Hawaiians. Thus, rather than support Native claims to the Hawaiian islands, blood quantum reduces Hawaiians to a racial minority, reinforcing a system of white racial privilege bound to property ownership. (Duke UP)

native-men-remade

gr-picNative Men Remade: Gender and Nation in Contemporary Hawai’i by Ty P. Kawika Tengan

Many indigenous Hawaiian men have felt profoundly disempowered by the legacies of colonization and by the tourist industry, which, in addition to occupying a great deal of land, promotes a feminized image of Native Hawaiians (evident in the ubiquitous figure of the dancing hula girl). In the 1990s a group of Native men on the island of Maui responded by refashioning and reasserting their masculine identities in a group called the Hale Mua (the “Men’s House”). As a member and an ethnographer, Ty P. Kāwika Tengan analyzes how the group’s mostly middle-aged, middle-class, and mixed-race members assert a warrior masculinity through practices including martial arts, woodcarving, and cultural ceremonies. Some of their practices are heavily influenced by or borrowed from other indigenous Polynesian traditions, including those of the Māori. The men of the Hale Mua enact their refashioned identities as they participate in temple rites, protest marches, public lectures, and cultural fairs. (Minnesota UP)

Apparently critiques by Hawaiian women will be discussed as well, I certainly hope so!

from-a-native-daughter

gr-picFrom a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’i
by Haunani-Kay Trask

Since its publication in 1993 From a Native Daughter, a provocative, well reasoned attack against the rampant abuse of Native Hawaiian rights, institutional racism, and gender discrimination, has generated heated debates in Hawai’i and throughout the world. This revised work includes new material that builds on issues and concerns raised in the first edition: Native Hawaiian student organizing at the University of Hawai’i; the master plan of the Native Hawaiian self-governing organization Ka Lahui Hawai’i and its platform on the four political arenas of sovereignty; the 1989 Hawai’i declaration of the Hawai’i ecumenical coalition on tourism; a typology on racism and imperialism. Brief introductions to each of the previously published essays brings them up to date and situates them in the current Native Hawaiian rights discussion.(UH Press)

This one comes highly recommended by Alice Walker and is somewhat of a classic in the field.

finding-meaning

gr-picFinding Meaning: Kaona and Contemporary Hawaiian Literature
by Brandy Nalani McDougall

In this first extensive study of contemporary Hawaiian literature, Brandy Nalani McDougall examines a vibrant selection of fiction, poetry, and drama by emerging and established Hawaiian authors, including Haunani-Kay Trask, John Dominis Holt, Imaikalani Kalahele, and Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl. At the center of the analysis is a hallmark of Hawaiian aesthetics—kaona, the intellectual practice of hiding and finding meaning that encompasses the allegorical, the symbolic, the allusive, and the figurative.

Throughout, McDougall asserts that “kaona connectivity” not only carries bright possibilities for connecting the present to the past, but it may also ignite a decolonial future. Ultimately, Finding Meaning affirms the tremendous power of Indigenous stories and genealogies to give activism and decolonization movements lasting meaning. (U of Arizona Press)

a-chosen-people

gr-picA Chosen People, a Promised Land: Mormonism and Race in Hawai’i
by Hokulani K. Aikau

A Chosen People, a Promised Land explores how Native Hawaiian members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints negotiate their place in this quintessentially American religion. Using the words of Native Hawaiian Latter-Day Saints to illuminate the intersections of race, colonization, and religion, this book examines Polynesian Mormon faith and identity within a larger political context of self-determination. (U Minnesota Press)

asian-settler-colonialism

gr-picAsian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai’i
by Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Y. Okamura, eds.

Asian Settler Colonialism is a groundbreaking collection that examines the roles of Asians as settlers in Hawai‘i. Contributors from various fields and disciplines investigate aspects of Asian settler colonialism to illustrate its diverse operations and impact on Native Hawaiians. Essays range from analyses of Japanese, Korean, and Filipino settlement to accounts of Asian settler practices in the legislature, the prison industrial complex, and the U.S. military to critiques of Asian settlers’ claims to Hawai‘i in literature and the visual arts. (UH Press)

And finally, this work is not edited by Native Hawaiian people, but the book has two sections: Natives and settlers, so you’ll find their perspectives inside. I also think it is important for settlers to work through their position and so I have chosen to add this book to the list. Read the introductory chapter here!

I know it’s a horrible time, please take care and practice self-case! I’m here for hugs and talking!

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Diversity & Nonfiction: Writers of Color as Experts

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So here’s something I’ve been mulling over recently:

Where are the writers of color in non-fiction?

Sure, you might argue that there’s a lot of nonfiction available written by people of color, just look at Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Between the World and Me or Just Mercy. These works are – very deservedly getting attention and accolades. However, they are narrative non-fiction and memoirs or works about race and racial justice. And because there is always someone: I love such works and I do not want to take away from these achievements at all, I am simply trying to make different point. Suffice it to say, that ‘the personal is political’ applies to people of color, too, and what is more, other less rigid genres and non-Western formats might work better for the things we want to say.

Thinking about the non-fiction I tend to read, two things stand out: One, I focus on social justice works written by women and people of color, and two, when I read other non-fiction (bees, Monsanto, dinosaurs) the authors are almost exclusively white. So let me  rephrase my earlier question: What is the place of writers of color in non-fiction?

People of color have claimed the right to be experts on our own experiences and the fight has been long and is not over by a long shot. In literary fiction, this right is being re-claimed again and again under the hashtag #ownvoices. In non-fiction (including  academic texts), there is excellent work being done in nearly all disciplines, demonstrating the intersection of for example food justice and racial justice or architecture and racism. But we can also see plenty of cases like white scholars putting together research groups on Blackness without any Black people or white ethnologists producing the narrative on Black urban communities.

There are plenty of reasons for people of color to write about issues of race, we want to tell our own stories and we need to be there and fill these roles of authority. Looking at the work being done in non-fiction by and about people of color is such a joy! But another aspect is, are we allowed to be experts on anything else? Will we ever be allowed to be experts on the human condition? On ballet or on the planetary system?

We have had this debate about women writers (and it keeps popping up), and all campaigns to shove white men off the expert throne are very welcome, but stopping at this point reproduces the same tired old power relations that work to keep marginalized voices out of positions of authority. And non-fiction is about authority, oftentimes taking on the mantle of logic, rationality and facts that present us with the ‘master’ narrative. We cannot leave this up to those ensuring our oppression! So what would hopefully be the benefits of diversifying by having nonfiction writers of color writing not on issues of race: Sharing in the building of archives of knowledge, demonstration of our humanity and complexity – we contain multitudes, prevention of for example biologically essentialist science (at least as the truth).

I’ve put together a list of six titles by writers of color writing about space, pandemics nd business. It’s an attempt at finding diverse authors in nonfiction by focusing on mostly US (and not generally Chinese, or Indian authors, because PoC is not the same as non-white) scholars and scientists of color, but of course we need to highlight other voices as well. Sometimes, it’s a bit more difficult to find out how authors identify, but hopefully I will find time soon to do this, or perhaps one of you will give it a try?

Tyson-death by black hole

Death by Black Hole (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

shah_pandemic

Pandemic (Sonia Shah)

(recommended by Jenny)

The Gene

The Gene (Siddhartha Mukherjee)

Liquidated-Ho

Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street (Karen Ho)

Khan- next pandemic

The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers (Ali S. Khan)

Khan-Adapt

Adapt: How Humans are Tapping into Nature’s Secrets to Design and Build a Better Future (Amina Khan) – Will be out April 2017 from St Martin’s Press

chu songbird

Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds (Miyoko Chu)

(recommended by Debi)

cosmopolites

The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen (Atossa Araxia Abrahamian)

(recommended by Sharlene)

michio kaku future of the mind

The Future of the Mind (Michio Kaku)

(recommended by Naz and Vishy)

connectome

Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes us Who We Are (Sebastian Seung)

emerging mind

The Emerging Mind (Vilayanur Ramachandran)

gathering moss

Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Moss ( Robin Wall Kimmerer)

(recommended by Stefanie)

What are your thoughts on writers of color in non-fiction? Do you have any titles to add?

Building an Archive: The #DiverseBookBloggers Directory

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More exciting #DiverseBookBloggers news: We now have a directory up and running! It’s still a work in progress but please stop by and if you’re a diverse book blogger make sure to add your blog! And send me a photo of your header for example if you’d like one included. Also, we have badges! Stop by and make sure to grab one for your blog/space and link back to the directory. There’s also an “I support”- badge for allies, we’d appreciate the support and spreading of the word 🙂

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There’s a resource page, where we list book lists by bloggers that highlight for example Mexican-American authors or Chican@ Speculative Fiction etc. Please let me know if you have created such a list on your blog, we’d love to add it to the directory! An index page with categories for easier navigation will be up soon.

The directory will hopefully function as an archive and a resource for bloggers, authors and publishers. We’d like to make an impact collectively! So please stop by, browse, add your blog and follow us! I’m admin, so feel free to contact me with any concerns and questions you might have.

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In other #DiverseBookBloggers news, Whitney at Brown Books & Green Tea has started a fantastic new feature in which she will spotlight diverse book bloggers. She was kind enough to ask me to start things off and asked me some tough questions. Thanks so much, Whitney! So if you’re still not tired of hearing from me, make sure to read what I had to say here. And make sure to follow her for smart and in-depth reviews of diverse books!

What’s the last diverse book you read? Let me know in the comments!