Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

a basket of writing from author Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Ally is a Verb: A Whale’s Song

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Beautiful writing from a friend on what it means to be an ally amidst the Mauna Kea movement, and how it’s linked to cultural erasure in poetry and in personal landscapes

KE KAUPU HEHI ALE

“Humpback Whales” by Christopher Michel is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Ally is a Verb: A Whale’s Song
by Rajiv Mohabir

I have had my land erased from me, he is being erased from his own land. When I was younger my family called my Raimie—a British name. When I first went to India I started going by Rajiv, my Indian name my parents gave me. I wandered my traditional fields feeling out for the calling of where they buried my ancestors’ navel string.

Bryan refers to himself as Kamaoli when he speaks Hawaiian.

*

To ally I must pectoral slap and fluke thrash against the ideas of “ally” and “settler.” These are convenient terms—they should be verbs. To ally: an action. It must be intoned in active voice.

These terms don’t hold the complexities of identity in assemblages—but they are a place where I can start my migration.

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Author: Kathy/Dede

Kathy Jetnil Kijiner is a Marshallese poet and activist. Her writing highlights the traumas of colonialism, racism, forced migration, the legacy of American nuclear testing, and the impending threats of climate change. Bearing witness at the front lines of various activist movements inspires her work and has propelled her poetry onto international stages. She has performed her poetry in front of audiences ranging from elementary school students to most recently over a hundred world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit, where she performed a poem to her daughter, "Dear Matafele Peinam". Currently she lives and works in the Marshall Islands, where she teaches Pacific studies courses full time at the College of the Marshall Islands. She is also Co-Director of the youth environmentalist non-profit Jo-Jikum, which empowers youth by educating them on the importance of environmentalism and mobilizing them to work toward solutions for environmentalist issues. Check out their website: www.jojikum.org

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