What does it mean to teach on Blackness in Oceania and the U.S. during the current momentum of the Black Lives Matter Movement?

Reflections from learners and educators on how recent events have re-ignited the urgency behind Black and Indigenous solidarities within decolonial work.

Facilitated by Trish Tupou

Amanda SullivanLee, Katherine Achacoso and I all met at the University of Hawai’i in Manoa in 2017. At the time, we were each engaged in our graduate studies – all in different phases and in different departments and disciplines. As time passed, and Amanda and I returned to our respective homes, we all remained in deep conversation with one another. When the Black Lives Matter movement saw another wave of momentum in mid-2020, as the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade (and many others) brought Americans to a standstill, events that would usually have seen most taking their frustrations to the streets, instead saw people organising across various social media platforms as well as hosting talks over Zoom. Between Hawai’i, California, and Canberra, I also had multiple conversations with both Amanda and Katherine around educating ourselves as non-black folks, but also on what blackness means in our different contexts. For Kat, as Filipinx who grew up in Tkaronto and now living in Occupied Hawai’i, for Amanda as a hafekasi Tongan in San Francisco/the Bay area living on Ohlone land and myself as a hafekasi Tongan who grew up in Aotearoa but now living in Canberra, Australia on Ngambri and Ngunnawal land.

So here we are, as three friends and educators/learners having a conversation via Zoom and inviting you to listen in and acknowledge the learning that we all still have to do – hopefully together. Ultimately, this short video conversation is a snapshot of the personal and intellectual work being done by two non-black scholars who centre their responsibilities to place and to their students. Highlighting the Black scholars who have taught and inspired them, they share a little bit about what it means to pass those learnings on as teachers. They discuss their process in ensuring they are teaching with care and thoughtfulness; to expose the anti-black rhetoric and structures to students who might not always have access to the literature needed to guide them in deconstructing, nor the language.

This is just one piece of a much larger conversation. We will also be working on a more in-depth publication with our friend and colleague Maeve Powell (Ngiyampaa). This will be to expand this conversation into how BLM is/was understood within all of our various contexts and with all of our different positionalities and responsibilities across the U.S., Hawai’i, Australia, Aotearoa and the broader Pacific Islander diaspora.

In addition to this conversation we are listing resources and bibliographical notes below this video. We will update this post in future with our forthcoming publication with Maeve.

Also, the biggest and warmest thanks to Kat and Amanda for their incredible generosity in having this conversation with me. Though you are viewing a fairly short video, this took a lot of time and energy to create and A LOT of patience. So I want to acknowledge the care that both Amanda and Kat took in sharing with me and with all of you! They have also graciously shared their relevant teaching material with you below.

Lastly, we hope you enjoy!

**I want to note that this was filmed during the Canberra pollen blow up! So I apologise for sniffling throughout and blowing my nose!




Opening and closing music: “Ritual” by Quelle Chris and Chris Keys (feat. Dr. Tennille)

2.00: Positionalities / background

7.00: How Hawai’i has informed our understanding of blackness

14.30: How the process of unlearning anti-blackness has informed Kat and Amanda’s approach to teaching



Open access / teaching resources

Amanda and Katherine’s teaching resources


Are Prisons Obsolete? By Angela Y. Davis (full book pdf)


Black and Blue in the Pacific: Afro-Diasporic Women Artist on History and Blackness (Journal article/full forum pdf)


Hawai’i Review Issue 79: Call & Response (full pdf)


“Hoy! Get out of the sun”: Filipinx Talk Story on (Anti)Blackness in Occupied Hawai’i by Pusong Filipinx organisation (webinar series)

Session one: Hawai’I Filipinx Call to Action: Black Lives Matter!


Session two: Indigeneity and (Anti)Blackness in the Philippines


Session three: Anti-Blackness and Racial Politics in Occupied Hawai’i


Session four: People’s Budget for Peace and Survival: A Filipinx in Hawai’i perspective


Is Prison Necessary? by Ruth Wilson Gilmore (NYT magazine feature)


Over Two Centuries: Black People in Nineteenth-Century Hawai’I by Nitasha Tamar Sharma (Journal article)


Re-Presenting Melanesia: Ignoble Savages and Melanesian Alter-Natives by Tarcisius Kabutaulaka (Journal article)


The Origin of Race in the USA (PBS episode of Origin of Everything)


Theorizing Pō: Embodied Cosmogony and Polynesian National Narratives by Joyce Lindsay Pualani Warren (PhD thesis)


What is Ethnicity? (Episode of Origin of Everything)


Write for Ferguson: Protest Poetry from the Hawai’i Review



For further reading

Banivanua-Mar, T. (2007). Violence and Colonial Dialogue: the Australian-Pacific Indentured Labor Trade. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Byrd, J. (2011). The Transit of Empire: indigenous critiques of colonialism. Minneapolis:

University of Minnesota Press.

Camacho, K. L. (2011). Transoceanic Flows: Pacific Islander interventions across the American empire. Amerasia, 37(3), ix-xxxiv.

Casumbal, M. (2015). The Indeterminacy of the Philippine Indigenous Subject:

Indigeneity, Temporality and Cultural Governance. Amerasia 41(1), 74-94.

Chazaan, M., Helps, L., Stanley, A., & Thakhar. S. (2011). Home and Native Land:

Unsettling Multiculturalism in Canada. Toronto: Between the Lines.

Coloma, R. S., McElhinny, B., Tungohan, E., Catungal J. P., & Davidson, L. (2012). Filipinos in Canada: Disturbing Invisibility. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Hall, L. K. (2015). Which of These Things is Not Like the Other: Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are not Asian Americans, and all Pacific Islanders are not Hawaiian.

American Quarterly, 67(3), 727-747.

King, T. (2019). Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies. Durham: Duke University Press.

King, T. (2016). Racial Ecologies: Black Landscapes in Flux. In Racial Ecologies. Leilani

Nishime and Kim Williams. University of Washington Press.

King, T. (2013). In the Clearing: Black Female Bodies, Space, and Settler Colonial Landscapes, Ph.d. dissertation, University of Maryland.

Mohabir, R. (2015). Ally is a Verb: A Whale’s Song. Accessed from: https://hehiale.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/ally-is-a-verb-a-whales-song/

Sharpe, C. (2016). In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham: Duke University Press.

Sharpe, C. (2020). A Breathing Combat: Against the Toxicity of the Colonial/Racist State. Funamblist, accessed from: https://whitney.org/uploads/generic_file/file/214/Funambulist_excerpts.pdf

Teaiwa, T. K. (1994). Bikinis and Other S/Pacific N/Oceans. The Contemporary Pacific, 6(1), 87-109.

Trask, H. K. (1999). From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’i.

Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999

Trask, H. K. (2000). Settlers of Color and “Immigrant” Hegemony: “locals” in Hawaiʻi.

Amerasia Journal, 26(2), 1-24.

Qolouvaki, T. (2015). The Mana of Wansolwara: Oceanic Art/Story as Protest and Decolonial Imagining. Ke Kaupu Hehiale. Accessed from: https://hehiale.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/the-mana-of-wansolwara-oceanic-artstory-as-protest-and-decolonial-imagining/