Letter to the Editor: UP community members respond to "From an Unapologetic Hawaiian"

By Anaceli Mejia and Danielle Dillard | April 13, 2018 3:10pm

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Anaceli Mejia (left) and Danielle Dillard (right). Photo courtesy of Anaceli Mejia.

In the opinion submission, “From an Unapologetic Hawaiian,” our fellow student, Kilohana, expresses their desire for intercultural dialogue, and the inclusion of marginalized voices in cultural events.

As people of color, whose experiences are often overlooked, we are supportive of the author’s desire to voice their opinions about larger social issues — issues that resonated with many non-dominant members across campus. However, we are disappointed by the dominant community’s response, or lack thereof, to an article that emphasizes the importance of engaging in respectful practices.

Some members of the UP community suggested that those wishing to invoke change should become directly involved in club leadership. However, we believe that those in positions of power should be willing to engage in productive dialogue with marginalized groups and individuals. The distribution of power and privilege should not be from the bottom up. Rather, we must consider who we are excluding from conversation, who lacks positional power, and how that positionality contributes to the silencing of non-majority voices. Thus, an effective leader must utilize their privilege to include and amplify the voices of marginalized communities.

Moreover, the negative responses to the article reflect a dynamic in larger society: people of color are often silenced when they critique the actions and ideas of dominant groups. Rather than silencing non-majority perspectives, student leaders should be encouraging of dialogue that raises important questions for our campus community and practices that are university-sanctioned. To ensure that our campus community is inclusive for all people of color, long after we are gone, we must be united and supportive of one another.

For those who read the article and felt uncomfortable or offended, please consider how you can be a productive participant in the conversation. As students committed to equity and social justice, we ask student leaders and others in positions of power to be intentional and critical of our values and actions.

Signed, 

Jezeth Zaragoza on behalf of SASW, Student Association of Social Workers President

Brandon Cruz, Guam Club President

Tyler Bautista, Guam Club Treasurer

Miguel De Leon on behalf of MEChA, MEChA President

Aracely Mejia, MEChA Vice President

Justin Low, FASA President 16-17, Diversity Coordinator 15-17

Sabrina Bernaldo-Olmedo on behalf of FDG, Feminist Discussion Group President

Marisa Johnson, MEChA member

Diana K. Salgado Huicochea, FGEN Student Ambassador and Mentor 17-18, Rural Immersion Coordinator 17, Diversity Coordinator 17-18

Danielle Dillard, Black Student Union President 15-17

Lydia Heye, Diversity Coordinator 15-17, Intercultural Coordinator 16-17

Marissa Torres, Native American Association President 16-17, Diversity Coordinator 15-17

Anaceli Mejía, SASW member

Emma Martinez, Border Immersion Co-Coordinator 17, Social Justice Coordinator Kenna 16-17

Jennifer Chu on behalf of International Club, International Education Week Coordinator 16-17

Anaceli Mejia is a senior Social Work major. She can be reached at mejiaa18@up.edu.  Danielle Dillard is a senior Social Work and Spanish major. She can be reached at dillard18@up.edu

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