This past weekend, I went to Oakland, California, to attend the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice‘s annual conference, this year titled, “Moving Restorative Justice from Margins to Center: We’re The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For.” It was a truly incredible experience. I’m grateful and humbled to have been able to learn from some seriously visionary and creative activists. This conference was where you can find the people who have ideas so big and daring, it’s a little bit scary. It’s definitely scary to people who are invested in the status quo, which is what made it so awesome! Here are some of the lessons from the conference that resonated most strongly with me, and that I imagine will stick with me for a really long time. Continue reading moving restorative justice from margins to center: what i learned
I can’t count the number of times people have mispronounced my last name. (Hiyama. Hee-YAH-muh.) I’m shocked if someone says it correctly the first time. My 93-year old grandpa has pronounced it wrong on purpose for a lot of his life so he doesn’t have to constantly correct people. It’s really not hard to say once you know how to say it, and people generally get with the program quickly, but there is still something that feels crappy about having to explain myself and how I came to be whenever my last name comes up.
Our names beget our personhood and confirm our existence. To have a name that is consistently fucked up by other people is to always feel like you’re abnormal, other, less. You feel simultaneously conspicuous and invisible. Everyone notices the difference, but nobody sees beyond it. In the United States, family names are important, but as an unapologetically individualistic nation, our first names are even more essential to our being. So as much as I identify with that experience of people mispronouncing my last name, it is a wholly different experience to not only have people mispronounce your first name but also to make fun of it. And while anyone can have a name that is tricky to pronounce by American English standards, names are racialized and the mockery is certainly a racialized experience. Continue reading on the importance of names and jimmy kimmel’s sweet embrace of white supremacy
Though it is still a relatively new area of thinking, there are now many books, articles, thinkpieces, and movies about the toxicity of masculinity and the fact that men- in addition to cis women and trans and gender nonconforming folks- are also negatively impacted by sexism and misogyny. Though I wish people with privilege were ready to commit to movements for social justice that don’t address them, it is an extremely important and powerful message that puts the responsibility for emotional, psychological, and intellectual healing from sexism on everyone, regardless of gender. Men, in addition to those marginalized by gender, have to negotiate the harm that has been done to them by sexism, and then together, no longer victims, we will move forward into a new, better era (we hope). Continue reading what white people gain from racial justice