When I wrote the original “Last Stand,” I never intended nor expected to have it stretch over a series of posts. But the series needs some closure before I put the kibosh on it. So, this will be the last time that I make a post about API Cares. This is the time where the fat lady sings, and all the wild geese are cut loose from my house. And for a fitting reason. Changes are on the way at API Cares. Because the changes are still in the works, there is nothing much I can say about them publicly at this time. As far as my understanding goes, I do have the ability to discuss specific changes in-depth with any Pacific Islander leader or mentor on a one-on-one basis. What I want to focus on today is what accountability to Pacific Islander communities means to me.
Let’s get serious. “Mr. Kaimana, graduate of the UW, why have you been making posts about API Cares now?” As I mentioned previously, this summer quarter (2020) is the first time in my opinion that API Cares have taken up the issue of disaggregating Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders more seriously. At the time of writing the first “Last Stand,” I wanted PI student leaders and mentors to be aware of how I responded to the issue. But I didn’t want for subsequent posts in “The Last Stand” to turn into something where I’m merely documenting back-and-forth discussions between me and API Cares. In fact, for parts II and III, I felt I had a responsibility to uplift Pacific Islander organizations and leaders who tackle different angles of decolonization and healing for the PI community.
Each post isn’t one of the same things. In Part II, I centered Research Family, a student-led group that actively works towards decolonization and healing for the Pacific Islander student community. In Part III, I referenced work by Joseph Seia, a well respected Sāmoan activist who is also adamant about the incommensurability of Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Neither of these follow-ups were made without the understanding that I’m not the only person in the community who shares these sentiments. As Seia points out, this is neither about you or me alone. This is about working towards Pacific Islander autonomy and leadership in spaces where non-PI persons and institutions in power actively deny such aspirations for the community.
That is all I’m accountable to when I write “The Last Stand.” Because of that, any of my fellow Pacific Islander leaders and mentors could have gone on to criticize me for my work and question my alignment with the goal of decolonizing institutions. And I would absolutely welcome that. Part of the reason I do this is because I learned to become more comfortable in my own skin and because I wanted to open myself up to criticism. But throughout “The Last Stand,” I received nothing but positivity and love from my fellow Pacific Islander peers and mentors who share a lot of the same sentiments when it comes to the tokenization of Pacific Islander leadership. For that, I wanted to express my appreciation for their attention to the matter, and for letting me know how much they care about me in bringing forth these issues. As a graduate of the UW, I just hope my peers will continue past my footsteps and advocate on these issues.
With that said, I’m still engaged in the nitty-gritty of doing work alongside Pacific Islander communities. I became a contractor for the Republic of the Marshall Island’s National Nuclear Commission as a graphic designer, with the hopes of launching an educational campaign about a specific nuclear issue in the Marshall Islands. Keep an eye out soon. And of course, I will still be writing here on this blog to tackle different social justice issues, current events, and hopefully fun content too.
Thank you once again for bearing with another one of my long posts. That’s it. Take it easy everyone.