Offering a DEI real experience for folks to learn from if you do not identify as indigenous. Based on my lived truth and undeniable experience last year. #indigenouspeoplesday #ally #DEI
SITUATION: I met with a DEI compliance manager in an effort to network and learn from her professional experience as senior leadership.
BEHAVIOR: At the end of the conversation I thanked her for her time and wished her a happy Indigenous People's Day. She asked "Is wishing someone good things on this day appropriate?" and proceeded to explain to me that this day is not necessarily a day of celebration.
IMPACT: In this moment, a White woman, a colonizer, and an outsider to indigenous struggles was unknowingly explaining to me, a fourth generation Uchinanchu/Shumanchu (indigenous Okinawan), that Indigenous People's Day was not necessarily positive. Her actions prioritized her good intentions over her unintended harmful impacts. Her bias of what an indigenous person looks like informed her choice to assume that I was unfamiliar and inexperienced on indigenous matters.
She employed her best DEI practices to educate me on Indigenous People's Day as she saw fit from a DEI ally and colonizer's mind set. At the end of the day she could go home to sleep in peace that she had shared her "woke" view with a young professional on how this holiday was not exclusively a positive holiday.
To the best of my knowledge, I am Uchinanchu/Shumanchu with lineage from Uruma (Gushikawa) village of Okinawa. As an indigenous person, I chose self care in this situation. I decided it was not my responsibility nor obligation to explain how her single question erased and minimized multi-generational trauma in my family based on American and Japanese colonialism, genocide, and land occupation in Okinawa. Learn about USA military occupation here: https://lnkd.in/dnBGB_xz
I joyfully choose to celebrate this day in remembrance of the lives lost, sacrifices made, and outstanding resilience of my ancestors. Today I tell my living family and indigenous friend that I see them and I am grateful for them. I encourage them to continue practicing our indigenous cultures and speaking our languages as the next generation of indigenous elders.
For non-indigenous folks, please take the time today to learn whose land your professional organization occupies and how you can partner with them for a mutually beneficial relationship. Before engaging with indigenous folks take the time to do your research to pronounce names correctly and acknowledge the space you take up as a colonizer. When engaging with indigenous folks please remember that we hold no obligation to share our cultural knowledge with non-indigenous folks and we do not exist to be tokenized in ERGs or volunteered to coordinate DEI programming.
Hanashi hangaku / We learn through the stories of others. - Uchinaaguchi Proverb