Over 100 community members packed into the small basement event space of the Elliot Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, September 19, to celebrate with Sharon H. Chang the launch of her newest book and first memoir, Hapa Tales and Other Lies. Sharon kindly invited me to perform opening and closing ceremonies as well as share a couple mele (specifically, a couple hula performances). This experience was powerful, inspirational, and fulfilling regarding womxn and femme power, a force of indigeneity, vulnerable sharing and deep cultural exchange, a multi-racial community's pains and triumphs, and a breath of fresh intellectual enlightenment and prosperity.
I feel so blessed to be in the company of greatness. Sharon's excerpts chosen in her book reading were equal parts eloquent and down-to-earth, simultaneously humorous and bluntly painful. Although she and I have very different relationships to Hawai'i - I being Native Hawaiian and she being mis-identified as such - I find my questions and emotions completely seamless with her own. For example, she questions the changes in expectations and justifications from having dark skin in the tropical places where she had grown up - she in California while I was on O'ahu - but now living as a light-skinned mixed person in cloudy Seattle. People treated us differently than when we had been growing up elsewhere. We have been identified, misidentified, claimed, and disowned and singled out. Where is home?
I can't wait to sit down and read voraciously through this memoir. Stars Marian Macapinlac, Selena Velasco, and Moonyeka feel the same. Marian's voice began the set of performances with sweet rock and roll - her voice echoing smooth melodies throughout the room. Selena's slam poetry piece with artistic interpretive dance moved me - her vulnerability is her strength; her body is her own, now. And so is mine. And Moonyeka smashed onstage with a super-chill-cool dance set and disturbingly great video montage. Watch them. These individuals, led by the community Sharon H. Chang is drawing together, will shake the world as we know it.
Mahalo nui loa to Sharon for the opportunity to share in such an incredible night I will always remember. Me ke aloha e ku'u 'ohana hou!