By: Danielle Fielder
Janelle Wells, an HCC Language Arts instructor, is interested in creating a place where students feel open to discuss ethnic problems they have faced, ask deep questions, and feel empowered to be themselves.
That’s why Wells is helping to organize an event called “Flip this School: Legacies of Imperalism and Decolonization,” a series of talks, film and open showcase on campus this month to address how being part of a colonized race affects the way people behave in and view the world.
“Thatʻs the thing with being part of a colonized race, right? We are basically trying to manuever in a world that is not always kind to you,” Wells said, explaining why the event matters.
In Fall of 2017, when Wells went to a suicide prevention workshop, she heard a brief discussion on suicide rates in the islands and found that although the state of Hawaii has a low suicide rate, the rate amongst native people is quite high. But even with this knowledge, Wells says “there are no studies really being done on colonized people and eradicated races.”
Not long after taking part in that event, Wells saw the movie “Black Panther” with her family. Wells loves the movie and even admits she lets her daughter believe in Wakanda because to the young girl, everything beautiful comes from Wakanda. Inspired by the Marvel movie and the suicide prevention workshop, Wells decided to delve deeper into the issues that imperalized races have faced and teach others what imperialization and colonized races are.
When discussing the event, Wells said that Flip this School: Legacies of Imperalism and Decolonization would be a four-part event, with each event day being held on a Wednesday in February. The first event day, Feb. 6, will be a lecture by Kumu Alpaki Luke, associate professor of Hawaiian Studies at HCC, who will be discussing the colonization of the Hawaiian people and their land.
On the second day, Feb. 13, a film entitled “Dark Girls” will be shown. This movie is about colorism and the stigma against women with dark skin and how it impacts the perception of self.
Then, the third event day, Feb. 20, is a lecture and performance given by a mixed-race music group called Angry Locals. The group talks about their form of resistance to colonization and awareness as to who they are.
Finally, the last event Feb. 27, is a showcase in which students are welcome to express themselves. whether it be through art, photography, poetry, fashion, or so on. Wells hopes that students will feel inspired by what they learn throughout the month and decide to take part in the open mic showcase.
The events are sponsored by Committee on Social Equity. All the events are free and open to all students. The first three events will be held in Hawaiian Center, and the showcase will be held in the cafeteria.