Hedreich Nichols

The PI in AAPI

Although I hate the fact that we celebrate certain cultures only during certain months, I acknowledge that so much of the country sees diverse Americans as adjuncts, and with no group is that as profound as with Pacific Islanders. Admittedly, it is the group of Americans that I know least about, so I’m excited to learn, and to share my new knowledge with you.

As I talk with educator Kecia McDonald, I realize how little I know about our nation’s 50th state. Let’s start with the most famous word, Aloha. So much more than a salutation, the Aloha Spirit brings each person to the self and is the foundation for projecting positive feelings to others. Starting with the word Aloha, one can immediately see that what most Mainlanders know about Hawaii has been reduced to eliminate a depth, beauty and almost hallowedness that seems to flow throughout the island–if you’re looking closely enough.

My next big line of inquiry–as a person of color–has been, “who are all the brown people?” So much diversity! Resisting the urge to run up to people asking, “what are you” (CRINGE), I could luckily rely on my friend Kecia to learn more about our nation’s #1 most diverse county. What fun it was learning names of cultural groups I have never encountered. Polynesian peoples from Enewetak, Bikini, Rongelap, Kwajalein, Majuro, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae enrich the culture of the Hawaiian islands. For me, learning these new words, a few new (for me) cultural hallmarks and traditions, as well as geography and migration stories has been an incredible way to spend time and further anchor my work.

As you listen, here are some resources to deepen your knowledge and to help you, your families and your students build cultural literacy, especially around the PI in AAPI.