How Fakequity Shows Up in Farming

Today we are featuring a guest blog post by Friendly Vang Johnson. Friendly shares about how fakequity shows up in the farming industry and how it holds back small POC farmers.

You’ll also see a new feature at the bottom of the post. I’m testing out a new line feature that says “Why I wrote/published this.” Hopefully, this gives you more of an understanding and connection to the blog.


Picture of a young girl carrying flowers on a farm. Photo: Friendly Hmong Farms

By Friendly Vang Johnson

Hi! I’m Friendly. I’d like to share my story on what fakequity looks like in farming, and how Black and Brown farmers and communities experience, endure and struggle against it. 

During the height of the COVID pandemic, in conjunction with the Hmong Association of WA, I began a mutual aid effort to help our local Hmong flower farmers. Leveraging a network of more than 40 volunteers and social media, we raised over $500,000 to keep our farmers afloat when the farmer’s markets were closed—their main source of income. We gave out thousands of pounds of produce to address food insecurity and food apartheid in BIPOC and other vulnerable communities. We honored thousands of essential and frontline workers, elders, and other mutual aid and non-profit organizations serving our communities with gifts of food and flowers. 

Today,  with the creation of Friendly Hmong Farms, a social enterprise that works to advance food sovereignty, land reparations, and racial justice. Our community-supported agriculture (CSA) business sources veggies, herbs, fruit, and flowers exclusively from Black and Brown farmers. We continue to reinvest food and flowers to the community (aka gifting). We do all of this, without owning a farm ourselves and without paid staff. We want to own land and have paid staff but systemic barriers and systemic racism prevent us from accessing grants such as the USDA programs that are supposed to help small POC farmers.

In Spring of 2021, I spent countless hours intensively looking for affordable, available farmland in King County,–one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. When I found acreage that could work for our family and community and discovered USDA’s program, I happily announced to my mother that it would be just a matter of time before we could start farming in Washington state. She would be able to continue her decades of farming and our small CSA business would provide her the outlet she needed to avoid having to go to the market everyday as a 67-year old farmer. When I detailed to her the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Direct Farm Loan program, she became blasé and said to not bother, “those programs are not meant for us.” As a first-generation immigrant my mother didn’t believe the program was for her, or for people like our family. I insisted that it was just a matter of paperwork, and I, as someone who has a master’s degree in public policy and works for the federal government as a performance auditor could surely navigate whatever hoops or hurdles they had. I was wrong. 
 
We were not successful in getting USDA loans for land, even though the lending program is supposed to support socially-disadvantaged farmers. One USDA requirement stood (and continues to stand) in our way: an applicant must provide a signed purchase and sale agreement from a seller, before the USDA will even establish eligibility. This race-neutral policy holds back many immigrant and POC farmers. 

I explained to a high-level USDA official that most BIPOC and refugee farmers —do not have access to familial or community relationships with landowners. Historically our forebears were barred from owning land. Red-lining, stealing land from Indigenous people, or harassment in rural areas low wages while working on other people’s land, etc. have kept POCs from farming or owning farmland. Today we are at a disadvantage when bidding on land. Programs like the USDA’s on the surface look like they can help, but as my mom said “those programs aren’t meant for us.” 

It makes me mad the USDA is perpetuating the racism that has kept BIPOC farmers from owning land and saying their hands are tied, because they won’t recognize how their interpretation of the regulations and the way they’ve written their program policies institutionalizes that racism.

USDA’s failure to serve BIPOC farmers means that our farmers are more likely to use predatory lending or other forms of higher-cost financing. It puts our business, incomes, and families at more risk. If I had sought and somehow gotten a business loan, I would have been charged 3 or 4 times the interest rate that USDA’s FSA Direct Loan. That difference in expense operates as a tax on me for being BIPOC and not having the intergenerational or community ties that a White farmer would be more likely to have by virtue of historic racism that has privileged them and their family. 

This difference in the history and lived experience of BIPOC farmers compared to White farmers is especially poignant to me because I am married to the eldest grandson of White dairy farmers who owned and worked 100+ acres of land in Minnesota. Their ability to own the land they diligently farmed and stewarded, meant that they were in a position to send their 10 children to college and retire comfortably; even today their generational wealth accumulation is felt in the family.

This is the price and sacrifice that BIPOC farming families are being asked to pay when we cannot equitably access USDA programs and are kept from owning farmland.

As the daughter of Hmong refugees that has farmed in Minnesota since the 1980s, my experience is grounded in the struggle for antiracism, justice, equity, and inclusion. When I was younger and more naive, I believed that attaining higher education would allow me to participate equally in the American Dream. I thought education would enable me access to programs from USDA, especially those aimed at serving disadvantaged farmers: women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). In 2021, I was reminded of how ingrained racism is and how USDA programs continue to fail our farmers and communities. Reforms are needed for USDA programs to equitably serve BIPOC farmers. BIPOC farmers deserve an equal chance to access USDA programs; it is time for the USDA to reform its loan programs. 

Picture of Friendly on the left wearing a hat with a yellow flower and a young child smiling. Photo from Friendly Hmong Farms

Friendly Vang Johnson runs Friendly Hmong Farms, leveraging her 20+ years of experience in social justice work. Her understanding of the intersection between food sovereignty, land reparations, and racial justice was shaped by a childhood growing up in the Frogtown neighborhood, farming in the summers, and at the markets with her mom and grandmothers in Minnesota. She holds a master’s degree in public policy. She sees her participation in Friendly Hmong Farms as the culmination of her activism as an advocate and community organizer. She is a mom of four and an auntie to eight. Learn more at https://www.friendlyhmongfarms.com/.


Why we published this: I invited Friendly to write this post to diversify POC voices and views on Fakequity. Friendly has first-hand and family experience in farming, an area not often featured in Fakequity. Food diversity, sovereignty, and agency are important to POC experiences.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer, and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end cost, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

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If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up-to-date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Be a Better Meeting Host with Relationship Building Questions

Calming picture of palm tres
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

About a year ago I published a list of questions I sometimes use as relationship-building questions to kick off meetings or gatherings. These are questions that help the group get to know each other a little better so we can build stronger relationships. When we know each other better we can do work more effectively and with more care.

One of my favorite authors and meeting/facilitator icons is Priya Parker. In her book The Art of Gathering she shared:

“Your opening needs to be a kind of pleasant shock therapy. It should grab people. And in grabbing them, it should both awe the guests and honor them. It must plant in them the paradoxical feeling of being totally welcomed and deeply grateful to be there.” -Priya Parker

In creating a welcoming and belonging space, I want everyone to feel like they can contribute to the conversation. Sometimes that contribution is by sharing and other times it is by listening. Both of these skills are practiced when we invite people to share during a relationship builder/ice breaker.

Here is a new batch of questions to help keep your relationship builders and ice breakers crispy or fresh:

  1. What is the soundtrack to your life right now?
  2. What would your five-word bio say?
  3. If you could get a ticket to any entertainment show (e.g. theatre, movie, music, poetry slam, etc.), premium seats and all-expenses-paid what would you choose and where?
  4. What is your favorite grocery store and what is your favorite splurge purchase to get there?
  5. For virtual meetings: What is an emoji that shows how you’re feeling right now? This is a good one if you don’t have a lot of time but want to invite people to quickly share in the chat box. Be sure to verbally acknowledge what people are posting in the box and invite others to check it out too.
  6. What is something you re-read or re-watched or re-visited lately and how has it impacted you? (Note: Don’t assume everyone reads; practicing inclusion of learning disabilities and understanding not everyone has access to print or other media, broaden the statement to multiple ways people may want to understand this prompt.)
  7. Another Priya Parker quote: “Find a way to honor that person instead of their job description.” Explain you want to honor who is at your meeting/gathering as people, not jobs. Invite them to describe who they are without mentioning their job.
  8. What is a non-work related skill or activity you’re learning right now? (If you use the Color Brave Space meeting norms, you can link this back to the norm of “look for learning and commit to learning in public.” We’re practicing learning in public by sharing what we learn in a less worky way.)
  9. For in-person gatherings, create a matching game – As people enter hand people a card with a symbol, letter (works well if you have half the set of capital letters and lower case), or something meaningful to the meeting, or if you’re out of ideas an M&M (tell them not to eat it). When the time is right, instruct the group to find their partner, such as find someone with the same or different color M&M, same picture or letter, and talk about whatever prompt you give them. This is a way to break up cliques and force people to get to know someone else.
  10. Take the matching game to the next level – Good meetings force people to engage and stretch themselves. Socially engineer which people you want to get to know each other and explain why you paired them. It can be as simple as having index cards with the attendee’s names and under it, writing suggested names of a few others they should meet during the ice breaker.

Closings – Never End Without a Meaningful Closing

In another blog post I’ll write more about why it is important to close a meeting with more than a “bye!” This was another Priya Parker lesson that was reiterated during an online conference I got to hear her speak at. One of my go-to closings is to end a meeting is to explain we just did something meaningful together. We learned together, practiced creating a Color Brave Space, and spent time together. We need to reflect and honor ourselves for that work. I ask people to pause with me and think of a gratitude so this sticks more with us. After pausing, I often count to eight in my head, I thank people and close the meeting. The closing doesn’t have to be uber serious but it should thank and show your group you are honoring that they chose to stick with you until the end.

Thank you for reading until the end, or if you skipped to the end thanks for checking out the ending. Thank you for being a part of the fakequity community, high fives all around.

Many thanks to the colleagues and friends who may have originated some of these questions over the years. I apologize for not thanking you by name since some of these have been used for so long their origins are now lost.


Why I wrote this: I wrote this to provide another set of tools to create better relationships, which hopefully leads to more racially just outcomes.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer, and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end cost, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up-to-date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

“Trying to help the next person is going to get me killed. I’m okay with that.”

Editor’s note: Today’s post is a guest post by Romelle Bradford. I sometimes write about why I feature these guest posts, but today you should read for yourself and not let my words influence you.


By Romelle Bradford

“Who Belongs” Image of two men wearing hats in black and white, back man with his fist up. Art from Amplifier Art by Nicolas Lampert

Many of the Black women in my life taught me generosity and kindness. I also see how society didn’t value them even when they were trying their best and needed kindness back.

Trying to help the next person is going to get me killed, and you know what, I’m okay with that.

On a weekday morning, I decided to shop at the local QFC grocery store. I needed some quick groceries for dinner and decided to run into the store before going to work. While walking into the store, a Black elder was outside stopping people to ask for a handout. Many saw her as a panhandler. When I stopped to listen I heard her asking for food, not money – she was hungry.  

The security guards hired by the store directed shoppers to ignore her. As I walked up to the store, security tried to forcibly remove her by grabbing her arm. Feeling threatened she instantly defended herself with a lighter that she pulled out from her pocket. The situation escalated, and I feared for her safety. I immediately intervened and jumped between her and the security guard.

I asked her what was wrong and how I could help. She told me that she’s 63-years-old and hungry. I asked her what she needed to nourish herself. She asked for bottled water, eggs, bread, chicken, and a donut so that she could quickly address her hunger. I made note of her request and went shopping for the items. The security guard looked at me in anger as I walked past as if I had challenged their authority. During checkout, the look I received from the employees was that of either confusion or abhorrence. 

By the time I secured the elder’s food, four police officers were there. She was in a heightened state as she feared for her well-being. I calmed her down and handed her the food that I bought her. I walked with her away from the store and asked her to please be safe. As I walked back to my car, one of the police officers said by giving her food, I’ll only enable others. I wasn’t even shocked by the response. I simply said, “She’s a person. I empathize with the feeling of being hungry and not being able to afford food. The compassionate thing to do would’ve been to help her,” and I walked away. I shouldn’t have to teach empathy to grown individuals tasked with serving and protecting our community. 

As a child, I felt ashamed that my family couldn’t afford food. Most of my meals were provided by others outside of my home. I remember how I would leave home early to ensure that I would make it to school in time to receive breakfast. At lunchtime, I always made sure my table was clean and cleared in hopes that my class would be the first class to enter the cafeteria. For dinner, my family often relied on the generosity of others. Sometimes my mom brought home the leftover lunch from the daycare she worked at. Other times we used the food that was given to us from local food banks. My experiences struggling with the shame of food insecurity have left a mark that is deeply rooted within me. The woman’s pleas for food were very traumatic for me to hear. I saw her as a hungry person, not a panhandler. I know seeing her in this way put me at risk. The security guard and police saw her as a threat, and they probably saw me as a Black man as a threat even though I was just giving her food and helping her move to safety. 

Unfortunately, my experiences with the police have been less than ideal. I’ve been subjected to racial profiling and unlawful detainment on multiple occasions where I was treated like a guilty animal instead of an innocent American with rights. Twice in my life have I been assaulted and had guns drawn and pointed at me by officers of the law. Both times I believed that I was going to die. Those first-hand experiences have taught me that cops don’t need to be challenged to be hostile. However, those fears do not stop me from doing the right thing, like standing up for someone whose only crime was being hungry and born the wrong color.

The stereotype of the Black people plays into how we’re treated daily. The Black elder needed help, not the police. While some women would be perceived as needing grace, protection, and leniency, these acts of kindness are often not afforded to Black women, especially Black poor women. Black women face a disproportionate amount of adversity in society. Black women have tried to speak up for themselves as they continue to struggle to be humanized – to be seen as people who hurt, cry, and feel. Black women have felt torn down and attacked by those around them instead of supported and uplifted. At what point do we humanize Black women?

Romelle Bradford (he/him) lives in Seattle with his family and adorable dog.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer, and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving pays for back-end cost, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe I’ll appreciate it.

Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, Alayna, Alessandra, Alessandra, Alex, Alexa, Aline, Alison, Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy, Amy P., Amy R., Andie, Andrea J., Andrea J.B., Angelica, Angelina, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara B., Barbara M., Barrett, Beth, Betsy, Big Duck, Brad B., Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C, Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine S., Catherine S., Chelsea, Christa, Christina B C., Christina S., Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Danielle, Danielle, Danya, Darcy, Deb, Debbie, Denyse, Diane, Ed, Edith, Edith, Eileen, Elizabeth K L., Elizabeth U, emily w, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Gail J., Genita, Hannah, Hayden, Heather H., Heather M., Heidi and Laura, Heidi S., Hilary, J Elizabeth, Jackie J., Jaime, Jake, Jane, Janet, Jean, Jelena, Jen C., Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F, Jessica G., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon, Jordan L., Jordan S., Julia, June, Karen, Kate, Kate, Katharine, Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O, Kawai, Keisha, Kelli, Kelly, Kelly S., Kim, Kimberly, Kyla, Kymberli, LA Progressive, Laura B T., Laura G., Lauren, Laurie, Laurie, Leah, Liora, lisa c., Lisa C., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, Maegan, Maggie, Maile, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Matthew, Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Misha, Molly, Nat, Natasha, Natasha, Nicole, Nora, paola, Peggy, PMM, Porsche, Rachel, Raquel, Rebecca, Reiko, Risa, Rise Up for Students, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K. B., Sarah O., Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, Shannon, Sharon B., Sharon Y., Shaun, Shawna, Siobhan, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan M., Susan U., T W, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, Yvette, and Zan

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up-to-date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

South Asian Heritage and History

Picture of Nepal mountains – Photo by Sparsh Karki on Pexels.com

South Asian Heritage Month

South Asian Heritage Month runs from 18 July to 17 August 2022. If you haven’t heard of it, no worries, this is your chance to learn more. South Asian Heritage Month is celebrated more in the United Kingdom than in the United States, BUT just because it isn’t a US thing doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate our South Asian relations.

South Asia is made up of eight independent countries, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Collectively, these countries cover about 12% of Asia, 2 million square miles (5.2 million square km for our metric system counterparts). About one-quarter of the world’s population resides in South Asia, making it one of the most densely populated regions of the world and important for its diversity.

Too often the broader Asian race category hides and overshadows the unique histories, migration stories, racism, contributions, languages, and cultures. Part of my hope is by highlighting some of South Asian history and contributions we can be a more holistic and inclusive country and community. Like my previous blog post about Hawai’i, this history is overly abbreviated – this is a taste of the richness of South Asian American history. As an Asian (Japanese and Okinawan) I want to make sure I am not glossing over other Asian histories; by understanding South Asian stories, I understand my own Asian story more fully. I am not South Asian so please take what I write as my take on South Asian history as a starting point for you to authentically understand and build relationships with South Asian communities. The South Asian community deserves to tell their own stories and write their own histories.

South Asian American History – Short Version

According to the South Asian American Digital Archive, South Asians have been in the US since the 1700s. Early immigrants came from Punjab and Bengal. In the 1800s the number of South Asians grew in the US.

These early immigrants faced anti-Asian racism and restrictions on their seeking citizenship or civil liberties. The men were barred from marrying white women and they were forbidden from bringing over family members (spouses). In California, where some of the men had settled to work the land, and eventually pursued married life with Mexican Catholic women who also worked the field. This documentary Roots of Our Sands explores the interracial marriage between several families.  

More recently, after the September 11, 2001 attacks there was a significant uptick of anti-Asian violence against South Asians – especially Sikh and Muslims. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s reporting xenophobia and anti-Asian hate could be seen across the country.

South Asians in the US and West today

Like the Asian race group overall, South Asian ethnic groups are growing in the US. According to the Pew Research Center several South Asian ethnic groups saw their numbers double between 2000-2019. Pew also has a chart showing ages broken down by ethnic groups. This is important to understand since it impacts which South Asian families you may see in schools and youth programs.

South Asians Leaders

America (or more broadly Western cultures) would not be what it is today without South Asian influences. South Asians have shaped and continue to positively impact our communities and lives.

As an example here is a very short (too short) list of South Asian leaders:

Iman Vellani – Canadian Pakistani actress, playing Ms. Marvel [I’m very excited to see this new movie]

Venkatraman ‘Venki’ Ramakrishnan – Indian born, British and American, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2009

Kalpana Chawla – Indian American, first woman of Indian origin to travel to space

Harry Bhandari – Nepali American, first Nepali American elected to state office

Khaled Hosseini – Afghan American, writer of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns and other books. I’m currently reading his newest book Sea Prayer which is beautifully illustrated and covers the current refugee crisis.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back-end cost, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up-to-date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Hawaiian History – A short overview

Picture taken from ‘Iolani Palace of the King Kamehameha statue across the street- 2022, photo Okuno

I was born, raised, and went to school in Hawai’i. It is a place that is important to who I am, especially since I am a colonizer and not a Native Hawaiian on their land. It is the place where I learned to deeply respect people of color, Indigenous relations, our diverse histories, and wisdom. Growing up I learned Hawaiian history. It is taught in fourth and seventh grade, and being in Hawai’i we learn it from simply being part of the community and listening to our kapunas (elders).

It occurred to me many people outside of Hawai’i don’t know Hawaiian history – understandable since it is a small island state/nation in the middle of the Pacific. However, you should know this important history since it is American history too, and for those who choose to travel to Hawaii for vacation or business, it is important to learn and respect the land, its people, and histories.  

Below is a greatly abridged version of Hawaiian history to give you a small taste of how complex and rich the full history of Hawaii is. I hope you will read it and then take it upon yourself to learn more from credible sources, especially from Native Hawaiian scholars, activists, and historians.

History of Hawai’i

Hawai’i, sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is made up of over 100 islands, but most people only know of the eight main islands — Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi. King Kamehameha, originally named Paiea and hidden at birth in 1758 to protect his life from warring clans, unified the islands. In several great battles including the battles of ‘Iao Valley in Maui and Nuuanu Pali on O’ahu, Kamehameha, assisted by Captain James Cook’s western machinery, unified the previously independently ruled islands. Captain Cook was the first white person/European to contact Hawai’i in 1778. He was killed the following year at Kealakekua Bay on the Island of Hawai’i.

King Kamehameha unified the islands in 1810. This was important because it created a more unified front for Hawai’i to withstand Western pressures. The Kamehameha dynasty reigns from 1795-1874. There was a succession of rulers during this time, but I will skip over this part of Hawaiian history.

In 1874 King Lunalilo, the grandnephew of King Kamehameha I, died of tuberculosis without an heir – he was 39 and had ruled for 1 year and 25 days. He was the first ruler of Hawai’i elected and was known as “The People’s King” because he was well-liked.

In 1820 Protestant missionaries arrived in Hawai’i. These and subsequent missionaries heavily influenced Hawai’i. The missionaries’ primary purpose in Hawai’i was to spread Christianity. Along with the spread of their religion(s) they also brought written language (prior Hawaiian language was oral, it is easier to spread Bible teachings when people can read the Bible), cultural beliefs, built churches, and illnesses and endemics.

In 1874 after King Lunalilo died, King Kalakaua is elected ruler starting the Kalakaua dynasty. Queen dowager Emma (married to King Kamehameha IV), a part of the Kamehameha dynasty, attempted to retain the ruling line but was not successful. She acknowledged the defeat and calmed her supporters; American and British troops were in Honolulu as well and quelled dissent.

King Kalakaua traveled the world establishing diplomatic relations with many rulers. Hawai’i was a strategic trade point in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Ships would need to stop in the islands to refuel and take on new supplies. Only countries that had diplomatic relations with the sovereign nation of Hawai’i could dock. As a Hawaiian historian told me “Other countries needed Hawai’i more than Hawai’i needed them at this point.”

In 1882 construction on ‘Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States, began. King Kalakaua had traveled the world extensively and wanted ‘Iolani Palace to be as grand as other palaces he had visited. ‘Iolani Palace had electricity and telephones before the US White House. While the palace was never the primary residence of any of the monarchs, they choosing to live in other cottages or residences close by, the Palace played an important role in Hawaiian history.

The center quilt boxes were sewn by Queen Lili’uokalani during her imprisonment at ‘Iolani Palace. Photo Okuno

Bayonet Constitution

In 1887 King Kalakaua was held at gunpoint by a militia of mostly American citizens/white settlers known as the Honolulu Rifles and forced to sign a new constitution for the Kingdom of Hawai’i. The Honolulu Rifles were aligned with the Hawaiian League (the Committee of Thirteen) which sought to overthrow the monarchy and succeed several years later. [Side-note — there is a whole sordid history involving the Hawaiian League/Committee of Thirteen and their actions. Too long for this post, but I hope some of you go down that rabbit hole of history.]

The Bayonet Constitution stripped the monarchy and his cabinet of power giving it to the legislature which was more aligned with white business and white settler interest. The document was signed by Kalakaua under duress and brought upon the end of the monarchy. Many believe the King would have been killed if he hadn’t signed.

In 1891 King Kalakaua dies in San Francisco. His body was brought back to Hawai’i on the USS Charleston escorted by the US Navy and Army at the direction of US President Harrison. After his death, Queen Liliuokalani assumed the throne. Her reign was short-lived.

Queen Lili’uokalani was placed under house arrest and imprisoned in a room at ‘Iolani Palace in 1893. The sovereign Kingdom of Hawai’i was illegally overthrown. In 1898 the United States annexes Hawai’i. Queen Lili’uokalani protest this move, as seen in this letter to Congress. In 1900 Hawaii becomes the Territory of Hawai’i under United States control. The monarchy never returned to power. Queen Lili’uokalani dies in 1917. In 1959 Hawai’i becomes the 50th state in the United States.

Why this History Matters

I just glossed over Hawaiian history in about 750 words. I know I did a disservice to the deeply intricate, important, and moving history of this once thriving and important nation-state. This is also modern American history. A Hawaiian story keeper mentioned that if you talk to people in Hawaii and reach back about two to four generations you can find a connection to someone who was alive during the monarchy. This could be a great-grandparent or great-great-grandparent — that is how recent some of these events are. Please take time to learn more and do your part to be in solidarity with Native Hawaiians.

Suggested sites to continue learning about Hawaiian history:

  • ‘Iolani Palace tour – If you are in Honolulu, sign up for the docent-led tour at ‘Iolani Palace. You’ll hear about the history of the monarchy from a seasoned storyteller and historian.
  • Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen – Lili’uokalani (book)
  • Merrie Monarch Festival – This is a celebration and preservation of hula and Hawaiian language. Last year I was able to watch it streamed online which was wonderful. I hope they continue to stream it online for those of us outside of Hawaii. The analogy I use to describe the importance of Merrie Monarch to people is it is like the Olympics of hula. The best hula dancers compete in this festival and it is a joy to watch.
  • Preserve Hawaiian language. I just learned about Ni’ihau Hawaiian, which is closer to the original language thanks to the island of Ni’ihau being more of a closed community. About 200 people still speak Ni’ihau Hawaiian. Make sure to learn about Ni’ihau and how it was bought and sold.
  • In the 2.00 a.m. haze of writing I forgot to add one of the best new books I’ve read about visiting Hawai’i — Detours. This book is the only travel guide you should read when visiting Hawai’i. Written by kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) it covers what Hawai’i means to them and what they want non-Natives to know. (Added 7/8/22)


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back-end cost, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up-to-date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Protesting with Kids

Crowd standing behind a barrier at a rally. People holding signs. Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

Facebook memories reminded me on this date in 2018 many were protesting the separation of parents from children at the US – Mexico border. In subsequent summers many have rightfully protested the murders of Black people by law enforcement, and most recently the Supreme Court’s abhorrent overturning of Roe v. Wade and taking away a fundamental right for families and people with uteruses.

Public protesting has brought many important social changes. Gathering and being vocal brings media attention, elevates important issues with policymakers, and as social beings, many find comfort and connection by being part of a common cause. I also recognize public protesting isn’t for everyone. For some being in a crowd is mentally and physically too hard to participate – that is fine there are many ways to be part of social movements (in another post I’ll include ways to support protests in other ways).

While there aren’t any huge protests planned at the moment (or at least that I know of), now seems like an apt time to prepare. Earlier today Anti-Racism Daily (ARD) published a Protesting 101 guide too. Make sure to subscribe to their daily emails too.

Anti-Racism Daily covered the basics of protesting, so make sure to read their guide. My post will focus more on how to involve kids in protests. These are tips I’ve gathered over the years from friends, colleagues, and other sources. Many thanks to people who contributed to this over time.

How to Include Children in Protests

Before you go:

VERY IMPORTANT – Make sure the protest/march/rally you’re attending is appropriate for the ages of your children. Not every event is comfortable for all ages. Use your judgment and decide your tolerance level for taking your children.

Explain before you’re going what the protest or rally is about and have the child relate to it in their own way. Watch a kid-appropriate video (e.g. YouTube, etc.) about the topic, read a book – Let the Children March, We March, ¡Sí, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can!: Janitor Strike in L.A., and Enough! 20+ Protests that Changed America are a few to preview – make sure to read them alone before sharing them with kids so you can judge if they are right for your kids, share personal stories so they understand the topic.

Explain why it is important to use the voices, bodies, and collective voices to protest. Protesting is often about putting bodies on the line and taking physical risks for something we believe in. Recognize this might not be for every child and respect their discomfort.

Have your kids make a sign to take with them – kid artwork is great to see at gatherings.

Let your kid ask questions and answer as honestly as you can about the topic. For children of color, the questions may be very different than white children, especially based on reading historical events (i.e. civil rights Children’s March) – will the police dogs bite, will they put you/me in jail for being at the protest, will people help me if I get hurt? Remind them it will be a peaceful protest and you will do everything you can to keep them safe.

Put together a transit plan – don’t count on driving and parking to the event site. Do you plan on walking/marching the full route or stopping mid-route? Make sure to have a plan.

Talk to your kids about what to do if you get separated. Where should they meet up with you. Don’t count on cellphones to find each other. Have a plan and coach them on what to do if they get separated – who are people they can find who can help them – police or firefighters (caveat for law enforcement below), go into a store and talk to someone in a uniform, or another plan that is right for your family.

Day of Prep:

Prepare a backpack with snacks, water/juice, sunscreen, cash, baby shampoo (more on this later), umbrella, tissue or toilet paper, and medication(s) for you or your kids if needed during the day anticipate being out longer than you think, just in case you get stuck. Backpacks or bags that allow you to keep your hands free are good. Check with the organizers to make sure the event allows bags and what the size regulations are.

Don’t carry anything you don’t want to lose – leave valuables at home. Explain to your kids not to bring extras toys/stuffies either.  

If attending as a family wearing matching colors could be helpful. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. If you are attending a protest without kids that might be confrontational read the ARD advice about wearing black and not standing out.

Take a picture of your kids in their outfits and text or email it to a friend/family member – sending the picture to a friend/family member is helpful in case your phone is lost or disabled and you need the picture.

Use a Sharpie (permanent marker) to write your kid’s name, contact phone number, and other important info (e.g. allergies, medical, etc.) on their arm/leg/stomach. Make sure it is covered in case people take pictures in the crowd. Put the Sharpie in your bag in case you need it later that day. For adults, ARD recommends writing a legal support number on you in case you get arrested.

Give your kids a signal or a code word to signal they need to pay attention and possibly leave. If you say “we need to go,” they know they need to leave now and not argue or ask to stay longer. Explain this before the rally.

Remind them how important it is to stay with you – it is a large crowd with a lot of people, and you don’t want to lose each other. Remind them of the safety and separation plans you discussed earlier.

Use the bathroom before you leave the house and again at the staging area if you see one. Have a plan for what to do in case you or your kids REALLY have to use the bathroom during the event. This is a funny/helpful Twitter thread. Don’t forget to pack some tissue or toilet paper, just in case.

Remind your kids protests/rallies/marches are often fluid events that may not start on time, or if they are large events it may take a while for your portion of the march to start. It is part of the experience and being uncomfortable is part of how social changes happen.

At the Rally/March/Protest:

Stay towards the sides and back of the pack. These areas are often calmer and easier to step aside. It is perfectly fine to stand on the sidewalk and support the march from there.

If your kid wants to tap out respect that and leave. This is about sharing an experience with your kid, not your agenda as a parent. If it feels right set reasonable expectations for participation ahead of time, such as “we’ll walk until XXX point and decide if we want to stop there” or “We’ll stay for an hour, then see how we feel.”

Do not offer personal information to anyone at the rally.

Do not count on law enforcement to protect you or your family at the protest. The police are not there to protect you or your family. If approached by law enforcement – stay calm, keep your hands visible, tell your kids to stay with you and stay still. You do not have to consent to bag or phone searches unless they have a warrant or probable cause. Read the ACLU’s guide for more details.

Cellphones – Read ARD’s notes on having a cellphone at the protest, think about digital surveillance. As a family decides if having your personal cellphone on you is the right thing to do. Some organizers recommend bringing it because personal safety is important; you can always turn it off or put it on airplane mode if you don’t want your cellphone signal tracked, however, this prevents incoming calls/texts from reaching you.  Make sure to have backup plans with other adults that DO NOT rely on cellphone communication. Often cellphone signals might be disrupted because of the number of cellphones in the area or other disruptions. This guide to prepping your cellphone before a protest is helpful too.

Trust your judgment and be aware of the energy of the crowd. If you sense the event is getting violent tap out. Many events are intended to be peaceful, but periodically the event may be infiltrated by people who want to incite violence.  

According to @DGlaucomfecken, an ophthalmologist (via Twitter) Pepper spray is oil-based, baby shampoo (no tear formulas) will help to remove the pepper spray. DO NOT rub your eyes, immediately blink as much as you can to wash it out with your own tears. Then wash your eyes with baby shampoo and lots of water. Remove contacts right away, it is safer to wear glasses at protests.

After the Event:

Debrief with your kids about the protest. Answer questions, have ongoing conversation, and remember one protest isn’t going to change bad policies and practices – ongoing work for racial justice is needed.

Before posting pictures to social media, make sure your pictures do not ‘out’ anyone else attending the event. While it is a public event, law enforcement has been known to go through social media to find people who were at the event, including using facial recognition technology to identify people.

White People and White families Attending Rallies – Especially Racial Justice Events:

Follow the lead of Black and Brown people.

Put yourselves closer to the police, do not incite violence.

Act as human barriers when needed for Black and Brown people.

Deescalate law enforcement.

Bring extra masks, hand sanitizer, and other COVID19 protections to share.

This isn’t about you, this is about being an ally for people of color. Your job isn’t done after one day or after one rally. Be in for the long haul.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back-end cost, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up-to-date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Summer BINGO

A note: No blog post for the next two weeks. I’ll be back in July.

It is June and summer is kinda here — it rained hard in Seattle today. My friend Bao makes BINGO cards for each month. I thought I’d riff off of her idea and make one for Fakequity for summer. This BINGO board has different suggestions for things to do, experience, or learn about. My goal for this blog post is to help us explore and think differently about topics during the summer.

Since the graphic is not screen-reader friendly, the text from the squares are below. I’ve expanded on some of them to explain why they made the BINGO board.

Finally, I hope you have fun, relax, and enjoy summer. Reflecting back on the first six months, including the COVID omicron wave, atmospheric rivers of rain in the Pacific Northwest, or really hot and dry days in other parts of the country, the invasion of Ukraine, and too many mass shootings, we need to also reflect on the good and where we can learn and make an impact too.

BINGO Board Squares Text

Learn the Indigenous place name of where you are or where you will travel

Learn about Juneteenth – Don’t think of this as a holiday, learn about the history of Juneteenth and why it is important to Black and African Americans

Wear a mask while at a summer event – COVID is still a thing

Attend a summer POC festival/event online or IRL

Watch a film by a POC filmmaker – There are a ton of great films by POC filmmakers. A few suggestions: 13 by Ava Duvernay, Everything Everything All at Once – Michelle Yeoh is a badass in this multiverse film, as a family we’ve been revisiting the Hayao Miyazaki films, including watching a documentary on his films.

Get a COVID booster or take someone for a COVID booster – Protecting yourself from COVID protects the community, including POC communities

Read a book by a POC author – If you need suggestions, check out some previous Fakequity posts

Make a dish from your ethnic background, and research it – Connecting with your own heritage and culture is an important part of supporting POCs

Research a social justice topic from a POC perspective

Write to a policymaker telling about a topic you care about – Policy changes happen quicker when people advocate and share why they believe in a topic. Take a moment to share your thoughts with a policymaker.

You watch a gov’t meeting – learn more about how policy is made – Government meetings are often fascinating if you are interested in the topic. Find a meeting (many are recorded) and watch it to learn more about the topic. Learning how policies are made or adjudicated is an important part of influencing policy. Just today the January 6 – Insurrection hearing was held in Congress, watch that one if you need to learn about a topic.

You have a close encounter with COVID – Please continue to be COVID careful.

Donate blood / Help someone donate blood – Advocate for a diverse blood supply. In my city many of the blood drives are not held in diverse neighborhoods, I will be making an ask of the local blood bank to host blood drives in my neighborhood where there are many more POCs. The FDA (and blood banks) should eliminate the ban on men who have sex with other men. It is discriminatory.

Register to vote for the August primary – if you’re registered remind someone else to register

Drink water – Give thanks for that clean water. Clean water is not something everyone has access to. — Learn about access to clean water, especially as it relates to POC communities. Think about Native Americans – Standing Rock protest, reservations without clean water, lead contamination in Flint, Michigan, or the water contamination by the US Navy in Hawaii.

You congratulate a graduate – Find a graduate and congratulate them on growing their minds and hearts. Preschool, kindergarten, high school, college, or beyond, or maybe a graduate of something else, we all deserve congrats when we accomplish something great.

Reflect on what you appreciate from the past six months – What from the past six months do you want to keep, what do you want to release, what can you do to be a better ally to POCs?

Support a POC farmer – Buy fresh produce, flowers, or other products from small POC farmers. BONUS – learn more about POC food sovereignty.

Your Choice 1 – Have fun!

Your Choice 2 – Share what you’re doing with someone else.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back-end cost, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, AlaynaAlessandra P., Alessandra Z., Alexa, Aline, Alison F.P., Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy H., Amy H.N., Amy K., Amy P., Andie, Andrea, Andrea J., Angelica, Angelina, Ann, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara, Barbara B., Barrett, Becky, Beth, Brad, brian, Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S. x2, Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christa, Christina, Christina S, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Daniel, Daniellex2, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Diane, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Eileen, Elizabeth, Elizabeth U., Emiko, emily, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Erin H., Evan, Francis, Gail, Genita, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jackie, Jaime, Jake, Jane, JJanet, Jason, Jean, Jeanne, Jelena, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Jordan L., Julia, June, Karen, Kari, Katharine, Kate C., Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelly S, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kim, KymberliKimKimberly, Krissy, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, LA Progressive, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lindsay, Liora, Lisa C., lisa c., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, MaeganMaggie, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Michele, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Nicole, Nora, Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Reiko, Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah O., Sarah O. (2), Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, SEJE Consulting, Sharon, Shannon, Sharon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan M.x2, Susan U., T., Tallie, Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., Tyler, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvetteand Zan

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up-to-date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander books

Picture of palm tree silhouette at sunset. Photo by Thomas on Pexels.com

I meant to write this post last week to wrap up Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, but the shooting in Texas and needing to reflect on that took precedent. To wrap up an extended AANHPI heritage month, let’s talk about our Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander relations.

Asian Americans Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are often grouped together. While there is strength in numbers we must remember Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders need their own justices and visibility to bring these justices forward. When we are grouped together Asian Americans often overshadow their unique contributions and stories.

A few years ago, a large Asian American Pacific Islander organization asked if I would promote their book club. When I reviewed the material the list had amazing Asian authors lined up to speak, but no Pacific Islanders that I could tell. I wrote back to explicitly ask if any of the authors identified as Pacific Islanders and they gave me a weak runaround answer. I declined to share their material. The following year another intern from the same organiztaion reached out with the same request and once again the list appeared devoid of Pacific Islander authors. The poor intern got a crash course on inclusion, and was probably thinking “I’m just doing as I’m told…” I was disappointed this large organization with influence and reach did not do their homework around including Pacific Islanders. If you have Pacific Islander in your name or mission, then do your work and include authentic Pacific Islander representation. I’m pretty sure I won’t get an invitation to this organization’s swanky black-tie event – boo for me. Others have made similar Asian and Pacific Islander lists and forgotten, overlooked, skipped, or ignored including Pacific Islanders.

Here is a short list of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander authors. I’ve read some of these books and others have been recommended to me by friends that have read them.

Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel (Samoan) – A friend raved about this book for its coming of age story and how relatable it is for those with connections to the Pacific Islands’ way of life.

Song of Exile by Kiana Davenport (Native Hawaiian) – Davenport is well known for her book Shark Dialogue. In this book, Davenport writes a tale (fiction) through key moments of Hawaiian history.

Maori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood by Witi Ihimaera (Maori) has an expansive resume and career. His other well-known book and subsequent movie Whale Rider has brought the Pacific Islands to a broader audience.

From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii Revised Edition by Haunani Kay-Trask (Native Hawaiian) – The author is well-known and was her activism and teachings have shaped Hawaii and the broader region. This collection of essays shares her thoughts on Native Hawaiian rights and other topics.

We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang (Asian and Native Hawaiian) – This book isn’t about the author’s Native Hawaiian experience. I’m including it because the author is Native Hawaiian AND Asian AND an expert on race. His other book on culture is amazing too. I once heard him speak at a conference and was blown away at how he was the only presenter to infuse pop-culture references (i.e. Beyonce’s Lemonade vid) into his presentation.

IEP Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner (Marshallese) is a book of poetry I found on the shelf of the Seattle Public Library. I’m glad I picked it up. The poet covers everything from her island used for nuclear testing to being on a Pacific Island and reading Little House on the Prairie.

I hope this list gives you a start to being more inclusive of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander authors and books in your reading rotation. I hope to see more Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander writers included in book lists when the heading says API/AAPI/AANHPI – do the work and be inclusive.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back-end cost, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

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If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up-to-date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Creating a Culture of Care

Artwork by Koy Suntichotinun from Amplifer Art. ACT! Fear Has No Place In Our Schools! People on a megaphone.

A POC friend shared with me a thought that has been rolling around in my brain since I heard it. She said, paraphrasing, “Erin, when I am in a relationship with someone and I care for them, I deeply care.” She isn’t talking about a romantic or familial relationship, she meant a relationship between friends, colleagues, and community members. As we come out of a week, month, year of extreme violence we need to return to a culture of caring for others.

Today, I had a conversation with an experienced Latino educator. He’s taught in middle and high schools, and has family members who are educators across the country. Over tea, he quietly said he is afraid of the violence that he is starting to see return. He shared how in the past he saw kids start gangs right in front of him, and he doesn’t want to see that happen again.

Creating Belonging and Care

COVID life, repeated violence against communities of color, economic inequality, and personal and community stress has strained many communities and people. In the early days of COVID we saw and participated in amazing acts of community care and resilience. Much of this is still continuing; out of the COVID disruptions came new ways of taking care of people. And we know there are still people who are not connected or feel like they belong.

The recent wave of violence against the Black community in Buffalo, the shooting of Koreans in Dallas, and now a school shooting impacting the Latino community in Uvalde, TX is reinforcing that we need to acknowledge the brokenness and care for others – including people who are not like us.

Caring for others means doing the deeper work. My friend shared with me that when she cares for someone she invests in the relationship. She works and expects the other person to build trust back, this is part of her personal and racial value system. Racialized trust can be difficult to navigate, but when we care deeply, we can get through it.

Who Belongs

A friend reminded me of the song Fast Cars by Tracy Chapman, she played it at her wedding — “And I had a feeling that I belonged, I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.” Everyone wants to feel this.

Belonging is simple and hard to cultivate. When we create spaces where people belong, it often means we have to exclude some. This is a hard juxtaposition to come to grasp with since it antithetical to belonging. Yet we can create spaces where people belong AND we can help to cultivate spaces where everyone feels belonging. The notion of sharing, not resource hoarding, and seeing ourselves as part of a broader community that cares deeply and mutually for each other is called for.

Here is a practical example. At my kid’s school, there is a strong Chinese immigrant community, Latino immigrant community, and a Black community. I want these communities to thrive. Their thriving does not take away from my feeling of a sense of belonging to the school community. They deserve their space to be comfortable without having to accommodate outside needs. Racial equity also allows for these groups to have different resources when they need it – some of these groups may need money to accomplish projects, others relational capital, and others time together. While many of us in dominant positions may feel FOMO of wanting to belong to their groups, we shouldn’t – this isn’t about us.

We also need to create belonging in ways where those who are traditionally left out can find their own belonging. Sometimes this means getting out of their way, other times it is supporting the effort, and sometimes it is helping to cultivate the space. Being specific is important to allow this to happen.

We all need to belong to someone and something beyond ourselves. Let’s create that space for each other while caring deeply.

Our broken hallelujahs may be the thing that heals us.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back-end cost, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, AlaynaAlessandra P., Alessandra Z., Alexa, Aline, Alison F.P., Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy H., Amy H.N., Amy K., Amy P., Andie, Andrea, Andrea J., Angelica, Angelina, Ann, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara, Barbara B., Barrett, Becky, Beth, Brad, brian, Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S. x2, Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christa, Christina, Christina S, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Daniel, Daniellex2, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Diane, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Eileen, Elizabeth, Elizabeth U., Emiko, emily, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Erin H., Evan, Francis, Gail, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jackie, Jaime, Jake, Jane, JJanet, Jason, Jean, Jeanne, Jelena, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Jordan L., Julia, June, Karen, Kari, Katharine, Kate C., Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelly S, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kim, KymberliKimKimberly, Krissy, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, LA Progressive, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lindsay, Liora, Lisa C., lisa c., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, MaeganMaggie, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Michele, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Nicole, Nora, Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Reiko, Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah O., Sarah O. (2), Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, SEJE Consulting, Sharon, Shannon, Sharon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan M.x2, Susan U., T., Tallie, Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., Tyler, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvetteand Zan

If you subscribe to the blog, thank you. Please check fakequity.com for the most up-to-date version of the post. We often make grammatical and stylistic corrections after the first publishing which shows up in your inbox. Please subscribe, the sign-up box on the right sidebar (desktop version). To see what Erin is reading and recommended books check out the Fakequity Bookshop.

I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.

Who is Seen as American

REBIRTH – Valarie Kaur, by Shepard Fairey. Art from Amplifier Art

I’ve been following the news stories about the Buffalo, NY shooting. It is beyond heartbreaking and wrong. This post isn’t about the shooting or an analysis of it; others much smarter than I have written about it. In listening to podcasts and reading the news about the motives behind the shooting, specifically the racist “replacement theory,” made me think about, who gets to be an American and who is seen as American. If you are outside of the US, replace American with your home country – Canada, Australia, China, Mexico, South Africa, etc.

“Coming to America”

Several years ago, I was invited to share my family’s migration story to the US at a fundraiser. It was a lighthearted event, as a board member for Neighborhood House. I was happy to share my story and why it connected to their services. My brother saw a picture of the event and quipped “Was that your ‘Coming to America’ presentation?”

The highlights of my migration story, aka Coming to America piece, are I’m third- or fourth-generation Japanese American depending on how you count. The exact details of some of my ancestor’s arrival in the US are lost or buried in archives. A reasonable assumption is it had to do with economics and probably pineapples or sugar cane crops – both were big industries in Hawaii.  

Being third or fourth generation means I am thoroughly American. I was born in the US, educated in US politics and history, my frames of references and thinking are engrained in Americanism. Yet I know depending on whom and where I am people do not automatically or see as American. They first see an Asian person and then judge how much belonging they are willing to afford me.

A few years ago, I was talking to a colleague. He shared his family immigrated to the US during WWII. They were fleeing Europe and persecution there. As he shared his story I had I flash of recognition that even though I am younger than him, generationally my family has been here longer. As an older white cis male, he is seen as more American and never/rarely questioned about his place here.

Who is Seen As American

The targeting of Black people in the Buffalo shooting, attacks on Asians, the fixation on immigration on the Mexico border, and other small daily acts of racism reinforce the notion of who is American. It is rarely white people who are questioned en masse about their place in the country. As an example, Ukrainian refugees are granted permission to enter the country because of the violence in Ukraine. Yet refugees from other countries, primarily Black and Brown people, are rarely afforded the same blanket permissions. Most recently we saw this in Afghanistan during the US withdrawal of forces and the chaos that ensued as people raced and begged to be evacuated. We need to see Black and Brown people as belonging to the fabric of America.

The American Dream

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said in a eulogy on the death of four Black children: “They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.”

I want to believe the American dream belongs to all of us – Black, Indigenous, Brown people – included. In order for this to happen individuals must question the system, the ways of life, and philosophies that question who is American, who belongs, and rewrite those narratives. Americanism is not a static notion, it belongs to all of us and we can claim it and rewrite the defintion.


Thank you to our Patreon subscribers. At this time I don’t offer ‘extras’ or bonuses for Patreons. I blog after working a full-time job, volunteer and family commitments thus it is hard to find time to create more content. Whatever level you are comfortable giving helps to keep the blog ad-free, pay for back-end cost, research costs, supporting other POC efforts, etc. If your financial situation changes please make this one of the first things you turn-off — you can still access the same content and when/if you are able to re-subscribe we’ll appreciate it.

Abby, Adrienne, Agent001, Aimie, AlaynaAlessandra P., Alessandra Z., Alexa, Aline, Alison F.P., Alison P., Allison K., Amanda, Amber, Amira, Amy, Amy H., Amy H.N., Amy K., Amy P., Andie, Andrea, Andrea J., Angelica, Angelina, Ann, Ashlee, Ashlie, Avery, Barb, Barbara, Barbara B., Barrett, Becky, Beth, Brad, brian, Bridget, Brooke B., Brooke D.W., Cadence, Caitlin, Calandra, Callista, Cari, Carmen, Carol Ann, Carolyn, Carrie B., Carrie C., Carrie S., Caryn, Catherine L., Catherine S. x2, Cedra, Celicia, Chelsea, Christa, Christina, Christina S, Christine, Clara, Clark, Claudia, Claudia A., Courtney, Crystal, Dan, Daniel, Daniellex2, Danya, Darcy, Darcy E., Deb, Denyse, Diana, Diane, E., Ed, Edith B., Edith B. (2), Eileen, Elizabeth, Elizabeth U., Emiko, emily, Erica J., Erica L., Erica R.B., Erin, Erin H., Evan, Francis, Gail, Hannah, Hayden, Heather, Heidi, Heidi H., Heidi N and Laura P, Heidi S., Hilary, Hope, J., Jackie, Jaime, Jake, Jane, JJanet, Jason, Jean, Jeanne, Jelena, Jen, Jena, Jenn, Jennet, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Jennifer S., Jennifer T., Jennifer W., Jess G., Jessa, Jessica F., Jessica G., Jessica R., Jessie, Jillian, Jody, John, Jon G., Jon P., Jordan, Jordan L., Julia, June, Karen, Kari, Katharine, Kate C., Kate G., Kate T., Kathryn, Katie D., Katie O., Kawai, Keisha, Kelly S, Kelley, Kelli, Kellie H., Kellie M., Kelly, Kim, KymberliKimKimberly, Krissy, Kirsten, Krista D.B., Krista W., Kristen, Kumar, Kyla, LA Progressive, Laura T., Laura G., Laurel, Lauren, Laurie B., Laurie K., Leah, Lindsay, Liora, Lisa C., lisa c., Lisa P.W., Lisa S., Liz, Lori, Lori N., Lyn, Lynn, MaeganMaggie, Maka, Maki, Marc, Mareeha, Marge, Marilee, Mark, Marki, Mary, Matthew M., matthew w., Maura, McKenzie, Meghan, Melissa, Melody, Meredith, Michael, Michele, Michelle, Mickey, Migee, Mike, Milo, Mindy, Miranda, Misha, Molly, Myrna, Nancy, Nat, Natasha D., Natasha R., Nicole, Nora, Norah, Norrie, Peggy, PMM, Polly, Porsche, Rachel G., Rachel S.R., Raquel, Raquel S., Rebecca O., Rebecca S., Reiko, Risa, Rise, Ruby, Ruchika, Sandra, Sarah B., Sarah H., Sarah K.B., Sarah K., Sarah L., Sarah O., Sarah O. (2), Sarah R., Sarah S., Sarena, Sarita, Sean, Selma, SEJE Consulting, Shannon, Sharon, Shaun, Shawna, Shelby, Shelley, Skyler, Steph, Stephanie, Stephen, Su, Susan, Susan M., Susan M.x2, Susan U., T., Tallie, Tana, Tania DSC, Tania T.D., Tara, TerraCorps, Terri, Tim, Titilayo, Tracy, Tracy G., Tracy T.G., Tyler, virginia, Vivian, Will, Willow, yoko, Yvetteand Zan

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I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.