Author Archives: gregwun

Some of Hawai’i Friends’ board members including left Thom Haia, Cheri Tarutani in front of Thom, Lorenn (director), Erika Hill (intern spring/summer 2018), Rich Turbin, seated from right Lisa Jensen, Ian Crabbe and Daphne Ho’okano in June 2018.

New Prison Release Reentry Guide

Hawai’i Friends, with the help of Root & Rebound, compiled helpful information for those getting out of prison. Our free Hawai’i Reentry Guide is available online now and in PDF.

  • How to get a copy of a Hawai’i Birth Certificate
  • How to get a Certificate of Naturalization
  • How to get a State ID
  • How to get a Phone
  • Employment rights and How to get a Job
  • How to Rent a Place to Live
  • Help with dealing Divorce, Paternity, Child Support and Family Law

Notes From a Panel on the Film Titled Out of State

Hawai’i Pacific University (HPU) School of Social Work: Panel Discussion on Film Out of State

(film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaaL3Jr-soI) (PanelOutofStatesNotes032818.pdf)

March 13, 2018 Panelist Speakers:

Wayne Ka’Ahanui, Student & Formerly Incarcerated

Roshian Lafaele, Assistant Manager, Fernhurst YWCA Women’s Work Furlough Program

Lorenn Walker, Director, Hawaii Friends of Restorative Justice (HFRJ)

Lynette Cruz, Professor, University of Hawai‘i system and Kapuna for HPU

Beau Bassett, Producer of Film & Lawyer

Moderator: Peter J. Mataira, HPU’s MSW Program Director & Assistant Professor

Special Guest: Lady Heeni Phillips-Williams, Barrister & Prison Judge from New Zealand

Observer: Erika Hill, Intern for HFRJ who prepared these notes

Introductions & comments of panelists:

Wayne: 51 years old, formerly incarcerated and currently in college to obtain a degree in social work. Knows people from the film. From the overcrowding, they transition people to the mainland. To touch upon this film, for me it did a wonderful job of showing the two different types of behavior when you get out of prison. Can’t say either is wrong cuz I understand addiction. One was done on work furlough and the other came out with these connections that had burned those bridges. It shows the difference in their success. Work furlough gave connections. I am in the social work program and going to be a therapist. But without the connections, it’s difficult. When you listen to a Kapuna find the deeper meaning, the difference between what they say and what they mean. The interpretation is different. My son was 5 when I went in. It was hard. Mypurpose was to serve the community. They coming out with nothing and now I’m making plans and helping people find others because some need more help than others. All you youngsters are in the right place right now. A lot of these men are trying to transition back into society and there is nothing for them. Some need more than others.

Roshian: Assistant manager for the women’s work furlough program Fernhurst that the Honolulu YWCA operates. It’s through my internship with HPU that I got to where I am. Everything shared in the video is what we work through every day with women. Finally got to see the man’s perspective. Hopefully through the video others can see that there is a lot of work that needs to be done—on the legal side. If you have a drug charge you do not qualify for certain things and if you have a murder charge you do qualify. There is a lot of work that needs to be done with social work. The programs are 6 months and trying to change someone in that amount of time is nearly impossible. It is necessary to help these people gain connections to family to help with addiction, etc. Each situation can be different and if they do not have certain things it can set them up for failure. There need to be programs that help them with different aspects like employment (IDS, etc.), addiction, etc.

 

Lorenn Walker: Background in education, became Montessori teacher at 18, on my own at 14, in jail at 16, had a baby at 18, got education and help. Almost got murdered at 24 in Waikiki. Was seriously injured and needed surgery, became very depressed, but knew I had a daughter and with a counselor’s help and went to college, went to law school in Boston. Clerked for a criminal judge and became a state deputy attorney general. Represented Hawai‘i in lawsuits, some against prisons. After 10 years returned to school to study public health. 20 years ago learned about Restorative Justice (RJ). People sit in circles talking instead of sitting in front of someone who tells you what to do. Better to engage everyone in dialogue, which I learned from Montessori. The prison in the film is a private for-profit prison. It has an incentive for people to commit crime, not reduce recidivism. The people in prison are our people. Our organization provides RJ transition circles to help people make their own plans for their success. The circles or aspects of them are being used around the world. The circles give power to individuals to decide what’s best for them, the circles bring children healing and reduces recidivism. The State is not interested, but the federal court is. Hawai’i imprisons about 6,000 people when there were only about 25 women imprisoned in 1979. People haven’t gotten worse. We are criminalizing social issues, including criminalizing children for normal childhood mistakes. The film shows Saguaro prison where Hawaiians are imprisoned in Arizona, but not shown are two other private prisons next to it. Prison is an industry. It is wrong and it is harming our state. There are six people, mainly lawyers, who are working as lobbyists for the private prison industry in Hawai’i, which paid them all over $200,000 dollars in 2016 and 2017. The prison industry is ruining people’s lives and hurting our community, while some profit from it.

Lynette: That was a depressing movie. Graduated from HPU, went to the University of Hawai‘i. Stayed in that program before they were about to kick me out. Did volunteer work in the prisons early on. Couldn’t be too political, but we taught history and culture. It was overwhelming; limited to 30 students and the line was endless. Everyone wanted to know what it was to be a Hawaiian. Currently, teach a class and an anthropologist by training. At one point we were okay, we were healthy and well, then someone came by and put their boot all over us and we speak their language and learn their history and lost who we were and no wonder we are not okay and end up in prisons. Percent real number was 85% or 90%. There is kinda like a bounty on Hawaiians. Those prisons are being built for Hawaiians. One thing I think social workers should be aware of is that when you teach a history that doesn’t teach our history then we are left out. The military came and took something that wasn’t theirs. You can build programs and walk around the issue, but need to acknowledge the issue. Kapuna in residence, what is that, I don’t really know; cite some cultural concepts. What does it mean to have aloha or pono? What is the right thing to do? Need to know. Something is wrong with a man going to Arizona and being from Hawai‘i…. 

Beau: There is a lot of shit going down in the prison system. Came from a family where a lot of people struggled and for some reason I didn’t struggle as much. Something was different with how I grew up than them, even though we grew up the same. A big part of my job as a lawyer was to help clients get services that they needed. It was disappointing to see them come back and didn’t have a sense of who they were (Kanaka) or even mixed. I was taught to take care of the ocean. The community, as a whole, doesn’t care about certain values. Value system is lacking. When I see the subjects of our film, I see it as a good thing that they are working on getting to know their roots. My cousin Ciara had the idea for the film and I saw these people coming in and out of prison and thought this idea was good. I have to talk up my clients and present a plan to the person in silky robes. I had to present the value of what this cultural practice brought to this client’s life. They didn’t understand Hawaiian spirituality, they understood the Bible and Christ instead, but not the cultural practices. One of the main reasons I wanted to make this film was to help represent why the practices are beneficial. 

Moderator Peter: Brother Wayne reminded me that we should never stereotype our brothers and sisters that come out of prison. WHERE IS HOME? Could see that in Hale, our brother needs help. The women in prison are our mothers. We are talking about an industrial complex, recidivism is their business model…which is horrifying to hear that. It’s hurting our communities, not just now but in the next generation with children that are not connecting with their mothers and fathers. That needs to change. What does shit mean? It means it sucks, its injustice and it needs to transform. Thank you for reminding us that these are our people. Culture is healing, but that is not what we see in Waikiki, its profitability. Tourism makes money, but how does it help with our brothers and sisters? 

Guest Heeni: Barrister, Lawyer from New Zealand. Appointed as Visiting Justice for three years in Auckland prisons and reappointed in 2015. Formerly a school teacher for 13 years, went back to university after real estate selling. Completed a Bachelor’s degree, Masters of Arts then a law degree. In returning to university met my husband, lawyer and Queens Counsel with my journey heading towards a criminal law, mental health law and civil law path. Am of Maori/ Pakeha/European descent, speaker of the Maori language. See Maori as cousins of the Hawaiian people. Maori women make up a very high percentage of the prison population in New Zealand closer to 80% as do Maori males – about 58%. Our new Labour Coalition Government elected 2017 have philosophy/aims in relation to prison reform similar to our League, named after my late husband i.e. The Sir Peter Williams QC Penal Reform League.  The government wants to ax building a new prison, reduce the prison population, abandon the three strikes law. They previously took the Maori vote for granted. Now they have to prove themselves as a high number of Maori politicians in this party, but significantly high Maori prison population. For Maori from dysfunctional families, poverty, parents lacking skills, lacking education, means more likely to end up in prison – is easy to criminalize social issues.  Education is really important, that is what we should be spending our taxpayer dollars on, not more prisons. 

Q&As

Comment from student: formerly incarcerated transsexual woman, thank you and good for you Wayne. I’m a fan of this movie because they depict such a big view of the culture. I’m a social worker and have been trained in RJ (by Lorenn) and work with state of Hawai‘i. Have the highest caseload and I’m still cool and it’s from learning things from Social Work and was open to learning many things. Need to learn from people who think out of the box and do many things, like RJ is one of the most interesting things in the world.

Q: Statistically, do you find that those who participate in the work furlough program as opposed to those that walk out have a better chance or is it more a behavior issue?

A: It reduces recidivism

Q: What do you suggest for programs?

A: It is hard to access funding, some allows certain things, some don’t allow for people with a history of Meth or Sexual problems, there is not a lot of housing or clean and sober for people. Some go from parole from prison straight to the shelter.

Q: Is there any bill or push to get others assistance?
A: YWCA does push for housing, bill for auditing, 250 million a year and now they’re looking for extra money, they need to be audited—they are against it. Bill number maybe 2047

Q: How are lobbyists setting the agenda determining the terms?

A: Hawai’i needs fewer prison beds. Need rehabilitation. $150 to keep one person in prison and then they don’t get an I.D. wtf? They need to work on identification before they get out, a bill for a pilot was “passed” so hopefully, we will actually see it.

Q: How do we allow people to grow out of certain narratives while they are young, especially when they feel trapped and stuck when they are young?

A: we should ask what is going on in Hawai‘i? Why are Hawaiians ending up in prison and homeless in their own homeland? I think we are in the way, we protest when people want to build on sacred land, can’t speak our language in court.

Comes down to education, changing down the narrative to something that is broader.

Proponent of history, need to learn why there is rage. Need a place to express. Gotta find out what happened to Hawaiians, nobody believes it, we have our own language, we are suffering loss, it’s not our fault or your fault. Not taking shit no more, if I express myself I end up in prison, how do I express cuz I feel depressed. Untangle ourselves from a system that never really worked and once we do that we can move forward.

Notes from Movie:

Alaka’i-leader

Kuma Hula-Native Hawaiian Hula teacher

Kanaka-Native Hawaiians

Mana-Powerful

‘Uhane-Spirit

‘Ikaika-Strong

He’e-Playboy

-“We are not waiting for permission to be indigenous people. We are indigenous. We gotta stand up and say it.”

-“My mistake: I’d rather be respected or feared in life, today is opposite.”

-“You have to be able to let go.”

Second Community Circle Report on Race

Ali‘iolani Hale, Hawai’i Supreme Court December 6, 2017

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.  — John Lennon

Event background: Hawai’i Friends of Restorative Justice (HFRJ) held a third community talking circle, the second one on race, December 6, 2017 at Hawai’i’s Supreme Court Ali‘iolani Hale (which was constructed in 1872 with the help of imprisoned people http://www.jhchawaii.net/aliiolani-hale/).

The first community circle was held April 13, 2016 concerning justice in Hawai’i, which Dr. Angela Davis participated in. The second circle was held May 30, 2017, which focused on the concept of race and how people have been affected by it. The third circle that this report concerns, was continued discussion of race with a focus on what could be done do to prevent racism and prejudice. The circles concerning race were provided in collaboration with the Hawai’i Judiciary’s Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Twenty-nine people planned to attend the December circle, and twenty-two were able to participate. Individuals ranged from people who provide social programs, high school and college students, lawyers, community advocates, feminists, and people on parole and formerly incarcerated. A list of the participants is attached. Many individuals had participated in the previous two talking circles.

The event was held from 1 pm until 3 pm. Participants were invited by email. They were sent Harvard’s implicit bias survey link (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html) before the circle if they wanted to measure any implicit biases they might have. Invitees were also sent the link to Dorothy Roberts’s TED Talk on racism in medicine (https://www.ted.com/talks/dorothy_roberts_the_problem_with_race_based_medicine/footnotes?c=99907).

“Acknowledge that you use your background to make choices, but use discernment without being judgmental.” ~ circle participant

Large circle process After participants signed in and everyone was seated in a large circle, HFRJ president, Rich Turbin, Esq., introduced Hawai’i Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. Chief Justice Recktenwald opened the large circle by giving an encouraging talk. He spoke of the need to recognize implicit biases and the work the Hawai‘i Judiciary has done to help people become aware of their biases. He shared his belief in the value of openly discussing difficult topics, including race. Justice Recktenwald also thanked many for helping provide the talking circle and said that his participation in HFRJ’s annual Parole Completion Celebration “is one of the most inspiring things” he does every year.1

The 22 participants participating in the second circle on race, each said their names and any affiliation they wanted to share with the group. The large circle took about 20 minutes total time.

“Listen more, speak less.” ~ circle participant

Small circle process Rather than have the small circle facilitated by a select individual, the small circles were “self-facilitated.” In the large circle, before the small groups were convened, the participants were instructed that about one hour was allotted for the small sessions and that everyone in the small groups would be responsible for ensuring there was shared discussion among all the participants. After the large circle, the 22 participants re-grouped into small groups with up to four participants. The small groups were made ahead of time to make them as diverse as possible according to reflect each participant’s sex, age and ethnic identification.

“Conflict can lead to resiliency and strength.” ~ circle participant

Reconvening large group Participants had about one minute each to report on whatever they wanted to share that they learned or thought was valuable from the small group discussions. Topics shared by the large group participants that they said were important included:

  • Early education – start as early as possible teaching youth all are equal
  • Education is the key to prevention
  • Involve critical thinking – practice listening and considering other’s perceptions
  • Provide classes w/ people from different ethnicities
  • Don’t be complacent
  • It’s an elephant in the room & needs to be recognized and discussed to change it
  • Recognize everyone needs a sense of community & self-worth
  • Take a pledge to treat all with equality like social workers often take
  • Think about race and discrimination systemically to make real change
  • Develop language skills to address situations
  • Need to build self-esteem young
  • Starts with parents & teachers
  • Develop proactive positive ways to create
  • Need healing, health, language, & communication
  • Build a loving community where you are empowered to contribute
  • Address these issues head on but in a culturally appropriate way
  • Continue good discussions
  • Examine our own thoughts – what are we telling ourselves & our part in it
  • Acknowledge that you use background to make choices, but discern w/o being judgmental
  • See our own biases & prejudices
  • Acknowledge individual evolution
  • Teach kids to meditate & develop skills, but don’t let it distract us from doing the work to address the system that’s putting them in that place
  • Dismantle the systems so we can be in a more
  • Don’t be complacent – call it out when it’s not ok
  • It starts w/ us personally, and consider the context of the systems
  • Pay attention to what comes out of our own mouths… it starts at home & lead by example
  • Listen more speak less
  • Justice starts with the truth
  • Look at life in the way that appreciates all different flavors and be open to combining things that you may never think would be good together
  • Hold a safe space for collaboration
  • Surround ourselves with good leaders
  • Invest in programs instead of prisons

Other concepts that were discussed in more detail included:

  • How race has affected us at different times of our lives
  • How lucky we are in Hawaii, being so much better
  • It’s entrenched in our systems
  • Discrimination can be very subtle & subconscious but still powerful
  • Ageism is real
  • Role of privilege
  • Oppressors will never give their power away
  • It’s part of humanity, how we engage w/ each other & address our fear
  • There are good people helping others as advocates who were oppressed
  • Language plays a big role
  • Conflict can lead to resiliency and strength

Future conversations

It is recognized that more opportunities are needed to discuss this topic. Participants suggested we meet at least four times in 2018. Every effort will be made to convene at least three more talking circles about race next year. We plan to hold one again in the spring, at the end of summer, and in the winter.

Additional resource: If you re interested too, here is a link to an excellent TED Radio Hour podcast on Dialogue and Exchange, by National Public Radio, about the importance of communicating with others of differing views and how we can increase those skills https://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/558307433.

Please contact me at lorenn@hawaiifriends.org if you wish to attend a future community talking circle or if you have any comments or questions about any aspect of the work that Hawai’i Friends does.

Aloha, love & mahalo,
Lorenn Walker, JD, MPH
Director, Hawai‘i Friends of Restorative Justice
December 19, 2017

 

Participants able to attend (highlighted) community circle on race December 6, 2017 Ali‘iolani Hale, Hawai‘i Supreme Court, with Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald opening:

1. William (Willy) Domingo – Hawai’i State District Court Judge

2. Rich Turbin, Esq, Pres. Hawai’i Friends of Restorative Justice

3. William Harrison, Esq.

4. Sandra Simms, Retired Circuit Court Judge & Chaminade adjunct professor

5. Fred Hyun, Chairperson State Parole Board

6. Kat Brady, Director Community Alliance on Prisons

7. Henry Curtis, Director Life of the Land

8. Jan Cockett, MSW student UH & Hawai’i Friends intern 2017 – 2018

9. Cheri Tarutani, UH Social Work Instructor 10.Kathleen Algire, Director YWCA Public Policy & Advocacy

11. Kacey Chong, YWCA intern

12. Mike Town, Retired judge & parole board member

13. Nancy Aleck, Retired Director Hawai’i People’s Fund

14. Toni Bisson, Director Pu’a Foundation (reentry services for women)

15. Daphne Ho’okano, Director Beacon (half way house)

16. Zea Billet, UH undergraduate student

17. Roger Epstein, Esq.,Vice Pres. Hawai’i Friends & Co-host HI Forgiveness Project

18. Robyn Pfhal, Esq.

19. Lisa Jensen – Treasurer Hawai’i Friends

20. DeMONT Conner, Founder Ho`omanapono Political Action Committee

21. Momi Conner, Community Activist 22. Michael Knott, State Parole Officer

23. Matt Taufetee, Director First Lap (half way house)

24. Innocenta Sound-Kikku, Chuukese Community Advocate

25. Ceceilia Chang, Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution Director

26. Jeanie Lum, Retired UH English professor & chair Hawai‘i Peace Day

27. Keahe Davis, Judiciary History Center

28. Chris Santomauro (DOE teacher)

29. Lorenn Walker, Director, Hawai’i Friends

30. Gracieuse (Grace) Jean-Pierre, Kokua Kalihi Valley

31. Mackson (Maxx) Phillips, Kokua Kalihi Valley

32. Anne Marie Smoke, Judiciary Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution

Restorative Community Conversation on the Concept of Race

May 30, 2017 – Ali‘iolani Hale, Hawai’i Supreme Court

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race.”

~ Sonia Sotomayor, United States Supreme Court Justice, Schuette v. BAMN, dissent 2014

Race Circle

Background on organizer and the event

Hawai’i Friends of Restorative Justice (HFRJ) was incorporated in 1980 to develop alternatives for youth on probation with the Hawai’i state family court in Honolulu. Since then it has evolved to develop, provide, study, and publish research findings on public health, restorative justice, and solution-focused approaches to promote healing and peace to broad audiences. HFRJ has collaborated with many individuals and organizations including courts, prisons, law enforcement, schools, public housing communities, and a variety of non-profits and government agencies. Its work is referenced nationally and internationally, and it has both a global and local reach. Over 60 papers have been published about its projects and several film productions also feature HFRJ’s work.

In 2016, HFRJ began providing community conversations concerning justice issues affecting O‘ahu residents. In an effort to generate more community understanding and address racism, HFRJ collaborated with two state judicial organizations, the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, and the Judiciary History Center to provide a conversation held May 30, 2017 at Ali‘iolani Hale, the state Supreme Court. Thirty-nine people participated in large and small conversations concerning the “concept of race.” Individuals who participated ranged from judges, people who provide social programs, graduate students, lawyers, community advocates, feminists, and people on parole and formerly incarcerated. A list of the participants is attached.

Invitation to participate
People were individually emailed an invitation describing the event as:

This will be an engaging experience with you sharing in small groups your experiences concerning the concept of race, what it means, and how it has affected your life and community. You will also have the opportunity to consider and express how you would like the concept of race to be addressed by others.

People were invited to share the invitation with others who might be interested in attending. Those who said they could attend the event, were emailed the following information and instructions beforehand:

The dialogue will begin in a large circle with Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald opening it, and each of us quickly introducing ourselves. Then we will re-form into assigned groups of five. In each small group, one person will act as facilitator/timekeeper to ensure everyone has equal opportunity to express themselves.

The small groups will address: 1. How has the concept of race affected you? and time permitting: 2. How would you like people to view the concept of race?

To prepare for the dialogue please take a free Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT) concerning race, skin-tone or an ethnic group https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html to learn something about any implicit racial biases you may have. Your survey results are confidential and will only be discussed at the dialogue if you want to. Here is a short New York Time 2016 article on implicit biases: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/07/upshot/were-all-a-little-biasedeven-if-we-dont-know-it.html?_r=0

Basically, we all have implicit biases. These are biases that we learn from our culture, which we may not be aware of and which may not concern race—we may be biased about age, religious beliefs/disbeliefs, people’s weight, sexual preferences, political parties, etc. Implicit biases exist regardless of our ethnic backgrounds, education, or economic status. Besides taking the survey on racial biases, you may also take additional surveys concerning many other areas as the Harvard IAT website provides.

The two hour dialogue is scheduled as:

25-30 minutes Chief Justice Recktenwald’s opening & introductions in large circle
60 minutes small groups
30 minutes large circle again with any concluding comments from each person (if 46 people attend as currently listed that would give each person about 40 seconds equal speaking time).

Large opening circle
Rich Turbin, Esq., HFRJ president, introduced Hawai’i Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, who opened the large circle with all participants. Justice Recktenwald provided a short inspiring talk about the importance of racial equality in our country and community. The 39 participants then provided their names along with a brief description of their activities. The large circle took about 30 minutes total time.

Small-facilitated circles

Eight people coming to the event, agreed to act as “informal facilitators” of one of the small circles. They were told: “You are mainly tasked with making sure everyone gets time to speak and no one takes up all the time (including you).” After the large circle, the 39 participants went to a pre-assigned small group with one of the facilitators. The small groups were chosen earlier to reflect participant diversity in sex, age and ethnic identification.


Sharing personal stories and generating more community cohesion

In the eight small groups, individuals shared their personal stories about race. Most of the small group facilitators prepared a short report on participants’ comments and many participants expressed how the event was for them during the large circle.

“Hawai’i is the best place to address racism. We are multicultural.” ~ small group participant

Comments of several groups indicated that growing up, some felt like “the other” because they appeared different from the majority, which could also be light skinned in Hawai‘i. How one’s race is viewed has the potential to create difficult feelings including alienation, not belonging, and being outside of the community.

One person noted that protection from racism could come from “safety in numbers” for those with a similar appearance. Some appreciated their resiliency: “Facing obstacles (discrimination, racism, judgment, oppression) based on race have made us stronger!”

Insufficient melting pot and the need to assist Micronesian people

Several participants noted that there is a tendency to view Hawai’i as a melting pot, with a successful multicultural population living in harmony. This concept is challenged by experiences including the over representation of Native Hawaiians in the justice and prison system. Many participants noted that currently Micronesian people are especially prone to suffer bias and discrimination in Hawai‘i. The observation was made that in Hawai’i, people are aware of bias hardships Micronesian people currently face because all ethnic groups have experienced prejudice at some point in Hawai’i. Several people voiced the hope that more people from Micronesia could attend future community conversations like this one.

Recognition of the importance of values

Appreciation of values was a consistent theme in the facilitator’s reports and expressed in the large group.

The value of cooperation, which was described as “fundamental in Hawaiian culture,” rather than competition, was discussed in a small group, and also mentioned in the large circle.

Some noted a preference for living in Hawai’i because there is more acceptance for ethnic diversity in the community.

Hopeful messages

Despite the covert, overt, internal and external discrimination and bias, and problems of the racial, economic, and social class intersections, the circles and conversations provided the opportunity to express and to hear about hope and optimism.

In one small group a participant discussed a cooking program that its agency offers. The participants cook food from different cultures, which helps them recognize and value their differences.

“We had a very good discussion on race that was meaningful and hopeful.” ~ small group participant

The potential of bridge kids was discussed in the large circle: “There is value in recognizing that children of multiple ethnicities are bridge kids and can work toward closing the gaps that separate us based on race.”

Participants indicated that finding ways to expose individuals, especially children and youth, to experiences with people of different backgrounds and appearance is important. Diversity helps eliminate bias and discrimination.

After one hour of the small groups discussing race, about 25 minutes remained for a large circle to close the event. Participants in the large circle shared quickly how the conversation was for them. Comments were all positive.

Large closing circle and concluding comments

It was noted that people in conversations both “laughed and cried” about the subject of race and the stories shared during the conversations.

A suggestion that a participant made, which others noted they too would like to see happen, is that each individual in our community take “personal responsibility” for developing insight, healing and love for themselves, to help others.

One person stated:

I think the exercise went extremely well, better than planned or expected. This was deeply personal to each one in the room and their stories were powerful and empowering. Most importantly the discussion motivated each one to move forward in action. The sharing at the end was a great culminating activity so that the idea of fighting racism was a shared value among the participants and they left with many ideas from a diverse group, including white participants.

Future conversations

It is recognized that more time is needed to discuss this topic, including explore solutions, and that the May 30th conversations only “scratched the surface.”

Another dialogue is planned for early November, which participants will be invited to attend.

Lorenn Walker, JD, MPH

Director, Hawai‘i Friends of Restorative Justice

Revised June 8, 2017
____________________

Participants of the conversations about race at Ali‘iolani Hale May 30, 2017

  1. Leslie Kobayashi – Federal Judge
  2. William Domingo – Hawai’i State District Court Judge
  3. Jackie Young – Chair Judicial Selection Commission
  4. Rich Turbin, Esq, President Hawai’i Friends of Restorative Justice
  5. Tanya Ng – Advocate for Imprisoned Women
  6. William Harris, Esq.
  7. Tim Ho, State Public Defender
  8. Sandra Simms, Retired Circuit Court Judge
  9. Kat Brady, Director Community Alliance on Prisons
  10. Henry Curtis, Director Life of the Land
  11. Cheri Tarutani, UH Social Work Professor
  12. Nanci Kreidman, CEO Domestic Violence Action Center
  13. Nancy Aleck, Retired Director Hawai’i People’s Fund
  14. Lea Jimenez, PhD., Counseling Psychology, Co-Founder CompassBlu
  15. Tammy Martin, UH Social Work Phd Student
  16. Talia Cardines, Manager Fernhurst YWCA
  17. Toni Bisson, Director Pu’a Foundation
  18. Erendira Aldana, UH Doctoral student Community and Cultural Psychology Program
  19. Sanna King, UH Doctoral Student in Sociology
  20. Robyn Pfhal, Esq.
  21. Lisa Jensen – Treasurer Hawai’i Friends of Restorative Justice
  22. De Mont Conner, Legal Assistant & Community Activist
  23. Momi Conner, Community Activist
  24. Ana Kaleopaa, MBT MSW Candidate 2017
  25. Michael Knott, State Parole Officer
  26. Madonna Perez, Legal Assistant Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i
  27. Matt Taufetee, Director First Lap
  28. Merton Chinen, Director Office of Youth Services
  29. Keahe Davis, Judiciary History Center
  30. Chas Williams, Director WorkNet Hawai‘i
  31. Cecilia Chang, Director Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution
  32. Innocenta Sound-Kikku, Chuukese Community Advocate
  33. Sophia Henager, AmeriCorps, Asset Protection Unit, Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i (LASH)
  34. Kara Doles, LASH
  35. Jacklyne Moses, LASH Fair Housing Outreach Specialist
  36. Marissa Okazaki, LASH
  37. Allison Jacobs, JD, Legislative Assistant & Community Advocate
  38. John Martin, Reverend
  39. Lorenn Walker, Director HFRJ