Tuesday, April 6, 2021

For Iremamber Sykap

 I am preparing for a class on environmental racism when I see the headline

“a 16-year-old boy has been murdered by the Honolulu police department”

That’s what I see, but we know that’s not what it reads.   

The police and mainstream media will first call this child a man. 

Call this murder a “police involved shooting”. 

Will call this “incident” an inevitability

chief Ballard will say, 

We have no further information as the officers involved are “consulting with their lawyers”

“They have been put on a four-day administrative leave”

That is the “normal policy” 

Ballard will admit That there were no weapons found at the scene 

While she hints that maybe one of the 14 or 16-year-old boys (she says men) tossed them

And now the whole internet is engaged in a public debate about whether or not a child deserved to die

And I am weeping, in awe of the magic of this misdirection 

We are having all the wrong conversations 


I am preparing for a class on environmental injustice

Where we will discuss that the most accurate predictor to environmental harm is race

The ordinary topics in this kind of conversation are about toxins, improper waste disposal, and water contamination 

But I think about how our hunger, lack of shelter and healthcare – along with the obscene presence of police SERVAILENCE must be a part of this environmental equation

The math that leads only to our displacement and death 


KITV lets out a hint 

3 of the 6 boys were unsheltered (they say homeless)

Facebook comments will call these children guilty of a lack of worth ethic

“they should have been in school, better yet, had jobs” 

Even from our own lāhui, calling out bastardizations of hawaiian values without context 

“hewa nō, make” 

The worst of us will debate “choice” from our moral high ground

our bellies bloated with privilege


I get caught in the black hole of Facebook comments 

But I cant stop wondering how long it might have been since any of these boys have felt safe, full, protected

I think 

How terrifying it must have been

These kids 

Younger than the age of my baby sister 

The full force of the honolulu police department in pursuit 

And firing 

To me 

This fear is so human

And so I see their faces before a single picture has been released

I know these ʻōpio- they are not strangers to me


And so of course when the news drops I wait for the revelation of what we already know 

The faces of these boys will look like ours
and if we have resisted the forgetting 

Paid attention to the carving of our ocean into digestible, colonizable, categories 

They will be familial 

Sons of our ocean 

Our moananui

The only blue that with ever be worthy of our backing 

If we hold thse genealogies as sacred 

As self evident 

They will remind us 

Of us

And so for just a moment 

the 16-year-old chuukeese boy, named iremamber 

Who was murdered by the Honolulu police will be our





Someone who’s life might matter far beyond the sum of mistakes made under the weight of a society that has already marked him as unworthy 

His brother says, 

“the police hate micronesians for doing what we do... surviving” 

And I think, 

I know that feeling 

Of being a target for elimanation 

A nusence in the neoliberal promise of progress 

living under the crushing weight of a failing state


I said it before

We are having all the wrong conversations

We are examining all the wrong “facts” 

We are engaged in a debate that promises only to strip us of what little is left of our collective humanity 

While a 16 year old boy, born of our moana lays dead 

So instead 

Maybe we could take a moment to pay attention 

To mourn 

To aceept our culpability 

And do anything other than cower, paralized


Watch the way the police will position the murder of a boy as inevitable

Watch the way our lives and the lives of ones we love have become disposable.

Watch the state pivot away from the root cause of crime—use this as a justification for more force against us

Watch the ways the state will justify all this violence 

While calling itself protection 


We must know now

More than. Ever that we much Watch out for eachother – becasue we are our only defense

We are our only chance of survival