Over-teaching the Civil Rights Movement to prevent further change

I remember distinctly one day in a high school history class when we were about to start “learning” about the Civil Rights Movement…again. You could almost hear the collective unvoiced groan of the class. I had leaned over and said to a couple friends, “I think the Civil Rights Movement is the most over-taught thing in school. Yeah, MLK was a great person..we get it already.” They were all nods and yeahs.

While at the time we were just reveling in our (armchair) defiance of the education system, I realized today that this sentiment was actually an indication something deeper. The over-teaching of the Civil Rights Movement de-sensitized us to what had taken place. Continue reading “Over-teaching the Civil Rights Movement to prevent further change”

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Balancing Ideologies with Identity & Embracing Change: a reflection on the film “My Dinner with Andre”

My Dinner with Andre is one of those rare films that overtly questions the ideologies we have accepted as the norm, the truth, and the system to live by. Though it is an older film (and focuses on the experiences of two middle class Americans who live in New York City and work in the theater), I think there are some timeless questions and ideas that apply to any individual struggling with identity or discontent in their lives. Continue reading “Balancing Ideologies with Identity & Embracing Change: a reflection on the film “My Dinner with Andre””

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What the Saimin?

tl;dr – Find out where food/dishes came from. Eat more kalo.

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I’ve been inspired recently by Dåkot-ta Alcantara-camacho who is opening up conversations about the Chamorro language – pointing out influences of Spanish colonization and promoting the actual indigenous word/phrase.

So here’s my bit for today about food words/names used in Hawai`i:


Today a haole bought a grab-and-go noodle dish, and asked if it should be eaten hot or cold, “because I know sometimes saimin is eaten cold,” he said. The type of noodle was 米粉… which is never eaten cold (unless it’s leftovers and I’m too lazy to warm it up). I was confused.

Finally looked it up. First, he was wrong. In all the ways.

But also got some cool background – the name comes from the Cantonese pronunciation of 細麵 (literal translation “thin noodles”), the food saimin is similar to ramen…which is apparently is itself a Japanese pronunciation of Chinese 拉麵 (la mian – in Guoyu not Cantonese).

So…saimin, manapua, spam musubi, chicken long rice, stuffed uhu, etc. All twists on dishes from immigrant/settler’s cuisines, making do with what was available and influenced by the melting pot. Possibly similar to American Indian frybread.

I know a lot of locals are proud of these foods, but as Jack Gray put it, “Being ‘proud’ is not the same as being ‘cognizant’. Collapsing cultural complexity into a happy brown puddle is akin to erasure.” Jack was responding to a Chamorro person who was saying Chamorro people should embrace and be proud of their Spanish last names because “it is a part of who you are.” …ok. (for the full conversation, click here. It’s in the comments.)

In the case of food in Hawai`i, I assume that most people just use those names without knowing the origins and stories behind them (and also sometimes use names in the wrong situation, like mandoo for any dumpling even if it’s not Korean, or mochi for anything made with glutinous rice) – which ends up reductively representing or erasing the distinct and diverse cuisines/cultures that inspired those foods. Same thing happens stateside – with the erasure of the African origins of “Southern” cuisine and white people claiming it…also tacos, bagels, pizza, etc. And all over the world…yay globalization.

So what to do? Learn the stories behind these food, acknowledge their origins, and how different names/phrases are used in the actual language. But honestly, these foods still perpetuate settler colonialism and erase Native Hawaiian culture, by maintaining dominance of settler food instead of promoting Native Hawaiian food.

Conclusion: We can just avoid this whole “happy brown puddle” mess by eating more kalo.

(image source:

Food and Power in Hawai’i – Summary and Reflection

I just finished reading Food and Power in Hawai’i: Visions of Food Democracy. I disagree with the framing of the book around “food democracy” as opposed to “food sovereignty” (see below for why), but there are some very useful insights to be gained from the book about conversations we need to have and actions we can take to improve food security for Hawai’i. Continue reading “Food and Power in Hawai’i – Summary and Reflection”

Hip Hop as cultural resistance, rebuilding, and global solidarity

This past week, I’ve encountered three examples of hip hop being used as creative forms of cultural/social resistance and also rebuilding. Continue reading “Hip Hop as cultural resistance, rebuilding, and global solidarity”

Why the word “feminism” isn’t enough

How the word excludes men, non-binary, and transgender people from the movement, and can cause people to overlook how the situation has changed and new issues that have arisen. Continue reading “Why the word “feminism” isn’t enough”

On “Political Correctness” and “Truth”

I realized recently that “political correctness” is a complete misnomer. First, it has nothing to do with politics. It’s social. Continue reading “On “Political Correctness” and “Truth””

Random Structure


I’m showing a collection of drawings at Coffeehouse Northwest in Portland, Oregon, for the month of March. The opening reception will be on March 3. Continue reading “Random Structure”

Making Tempeh

For our first attempt at mold fermentation, we decided to make tempeh. I bought the tempeh starter at a local co-op. This starter from Cultures for Health contains rhizopus oryzae cultures, although it seems like rhizopus oligosporus is the more common type used. Continue reading “Making Tempeh”

Fermentation explorations

Recently I’ve been experimenting with fermentation, using Mastering Fermentation by Mary Karlin and The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz as references. Check out some of the things I’ve tried!

Sauerkraut Continue reading “Fermentation explorations”

First attempt at making beer

Oregon Fermentation Festival

We went to the Oregon Fermentation Festival on Sauvie Island a few weeks ago and tasted everything from sauerkraut to salami, kombucha to kefir, cheese to chocolate (yes there is fermentation involved in making chocolate!).  We had already been trying out some simple fermentation, but after seeing all this cool stuff, we decided it was time to step it up…with beer!

Continue reading “First attempt at making beer”

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