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Hibiscus Flower
ILI Fellow muthi reed shares their thoughts and photos from ILI Hawaiʻi.
Aloha. Mahalo. ‘Āina. Hawai’i. Land of sacred relationships thank you for welcoming us home to sovereign sensibility. Home is….. feelings and places of agreement, acceptance, awareness…. healing… sources of purpose….. kinships built from knowing and working side by side. Home is shared between us. Home is complex and difficult and maybe a myth. Regardless, the idea of kinship calls us lifetime after lifetime, in the people we meet, the conflicts we experience, the foods we savor and the places and spaces where we are held. 

Neck donning lei feels like home. Kalo feels like home. Worshiping aina feels like home. Mehana leading us in ho’oponopono feels like home. The unresolve of ho’oponopono feels like home. Preparing, waiting for the slow cook and eating laulau feels like home. A father and son chef family feels like home. Intimate conversations with comrades Roberta Uno and Jeff Chang over a meal prepared by Native women feels like home. Prayer in a circle feels like home. Up in the club sipping mai thai’s and eating the orchids served in them while listening to Soul music sung by a Hawaiian R&B band feels like home. Canoeing feels like home. Jamaica’s ancestral stories feel like home. Honoring complex sensibilities while sharing whiskey & ceremonial weed with a rockin gang of intercultural queerdos feels like home. Banyan tree feels like home. Open toes in the sun feels like home. Island life feels like home. 3 Black queers walking at night on a beach, no problem, feels like home. Native interculturality feels like home. Black interculturality feels like home. Hawai’i for Hawaiians feels like home. Auntie Vicky calling out her children to correct them feels super complicated and disempowering, yet familiar, like home. Auntie Vicky, the big hearted matriarch whose rich vision is life blood for many thriving communities feels like home. Auntie Vicky, anti Blackness, centering Whiteness, Black death, refusal, shaming, inspiring disavowal, tell it to your therapist… home is an ocean I can only imagine the depths of.
Dark open sky all starry feels like galactic home, all our resonances laid out like a dreamy patchwork quilt. A bear hug from J. Ching’s beautiful little Mama feels like home. Improvising on stage with Gwylene Galimard and her piercing soulful scream feels like home. Full sun and picking fresh fruit off a tree feels like home. Cruising through Waipio Valley with love ones feels like home. Offerings for the spirits of where the river and the ocean meet feels like home. Black sand feels like home. Learning how to drink kava in ritual ceremony feels like ancient home. Poi feels like home. Slurping lilikoi feels like home. Cherry can’t get enough lilikoi, yeah we home. Bare chested and immersed in Pacific Ocean waters for ritual clearing feels like home. Smuggling lilikoi across borders feels like home.


My heart broke open during our ILI Hawai’i cohort gathering in Oahu. I so appreciate the work of those who brought us in and took care for us, making us feel like home again. Something in me woke up! Something clarified and freed itself. Black is what Europeans made a colonial disgrace. In our relentless refusal and in the spirit of inventors, Black people took it & re engineered it to be the geo political social conscience for what it means to be human. Blackness is what Europeans could not fathom— the finesse of an assault. The Blackening. Blackness is trans regional, trans cultural, spherical and multilingual. We came before 1492. We were here before 1492. 1492 snapshot America, the white pathology horror show, trauma devised 1000 years in advance. Black death. They even allow us to participate with a census and a vote. By whose memory, map and whose time? By whose shape, vernacular and whose dreams? We arrived from every direction…remember? All the time coming. We are on Native land and Black been Black. It’s not about who named it, it’s about what it can hold. says Sage Crump. More than a skin color, it’s an attitude. said James Brown. Our disruption and disdain for a “pure” thing. Our dirt. It cannot be contained yet it contains multitudes. Black been Native.

Hawai’i held me close n talked with me about trusting the heart’s navigations, listening to plants, migrations, sky and the life happenings that pattern and shape us. Trust his story books less or none at all. Trust dreams and elder speak. Trust the photographs of those great Blacks in the museum lookin like us, and their representative, our tour guide, so proud and matter-of-fact of her Native heritage. No fear of white intrusion, no thought even. Coming from where I am from, my sense of home as a single place of origin outside of my body, my closest kin, and the present moment is always unsure and never right. Home has been an elusive burden. Home is impossible embodiments of disembodied traces of knowing. It’s a lot to muthafuckin hold. Of the road and the great waters, of trees, rivers, side lots, street corners, Alabama, Blackfoot, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Virginia, Veracruz, Panamá, Haiti— anywhere Black hearts been. Home is a continuum… for those who have none and want some, need some, have some just don’t eat our skin…. is plenty soul rhythms for everyone… plenty heartbreak…. tried…. true… disagreements…. smoking ya self… ritual… rotations… good conversation…. bad breaks… ancient… noise…. bitter herb…. strong dreams…. shape shifting presence…recipes for wellness…. older than your mother’s mother’s mother…. new under the sun…. getting free and staying free…. journeying… making space.… owning nothing, no property, no quantum proof. We been here too long for proof.