Alex Tizon is so much like me it’s almost laughable.
He was a Filipino American journalist writing in Seattle with a specific aim to uplift the narratives of those most marginalized from society. He wrote long-format philosophical essays driven by a need to deeply understand himself, others, and the most foundational parts of our humanity. He delved into themes like invisibility, complicity, and authenticity without shying away from the most difficult emotions like shame, guilt, and pain. He had two daughters. His Lola — the subject of his award-winning piece in The Atlantic — even shares my last name, a fact that my in-laws assure me is merely a coincidence.
Learning more of my ancestral language during this pandemic has been a powerful gift. The ability to say I love you in Lushootseed, brings deeper warmth and nourishment to the vastness of love. Indigenous love grows from a place of compassion, an understanding that I concern myself with others, and they concern themselves with me. This week of Thanksgiving I am reflecting on how my liberation, my joy, my health is always tied to yours. We are together, wherever we are.
by Clear Sky Native Youth Leadership Council interns Kayla Harstad, Lailani Norman, Tim Shay, and Akichita Taken Alive
Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.
During Native American Heritage Month, we have a unique opportunity as Native teens to reflect on what the world expects from us and hopes for us. It can be overwhelming and exciting to think about what the future holds and the responsibilities we might take on, but one way we’ve each been able to gain clarity is through our involvement with the Seattle Clear Sky Native Youth Council, a youth-focused and directed program of the Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA). Clear Sky provides opportunities for deepening our connections with our intertribal community, while also affirming our cultural values, worldview, and traditional knowledge systems as well as empowering us to navigate racist colonial systems through advocacy, activism, and action. As individuals, we are teenagers, students, siblings, daughters and sons, and grandchildren as well as neighbors and friends to all in our community. But together, we have joined with our peers to take advantage of lessons in order to build the knowledge we need to stand in our truths as future elders.
The Seattle Globalist was a daily online publication that covered the connections between local and global issues in Seattle. The Emerald is keeping alive its legacy of highlighting our city’s diverse voices by regularly publishing and re-publishing stories aligned with the Globalist‘s mission.
Imagine this: You’re working 12,000 miles from home. There was a recent election in your home country, and the corrupt leadership was replaced by someone new, hailed worldwide as the one who will lead your country back to its rightful place as a world power. The losing party refuses to concede their loss, but the new leader is determined to return stability and grace to your people. To that end, the new party pursues the completion of a large infrastructure project that will revolutionize access to sustainable energy for everyone, especially those in rural communities. Your cousin, who lives there, has been excited about this new project and the new leadership. There was hope in the country for the first time in many years. But after a long visit with you, your cousin returns home to find disorder in her country.
One day your cousin texts you that a rebel force loyal to the former ruling party has launched an attack on a government installation. People are traumatized. People die. The attackers block all roads leading into the region surrounding the government installation and take hundreds of people hostage.
Sound familiar? The MAGA insurrection as seen through the eyes of Americans living abroad? No. Although the parallels are uncanny, this is the story of the last 18 months in Ethiopia, as a group of domestic terrorists have been trying to unseat a duly elected government.
The Solidarity Budget, proposed by a coalition of more than 200 organizations in the city, has a vision of Seattle that matches the times we face — from the climate crisis and calls for Indigenous sovereignty to the collective need for more resources dedicated to child care, digital equity, and more. The Solidarity Budget reminds us that a city’s budget — in deciding which issues are worth investing in — becomes a moral document of its people’s priorities, a document that attempts to concretize the values and visions that brought us protesting into the streets not too long ago. As the Seattle City Council concluded budget season last week, with a councilmember majority that last year publicly pledged to invest in community over police, it is crucial to uplift and support the Solidarity Budget’s timely demands.
Years ago, during a time in my career when I was working with children and families who had encountered abuse and who were involved with the foster care system, I made a new acquaintance who later became a good friend. When my occupation came up, she looked me squarely in the eyes, and asked, “Why on earth would anyone want to do that??”
My friend, no stranger to hardship herself, was asking me in a straightforward manner why I would elect to put myself in the face of abject misery. It’s a reasonable enough query, if the job was in fact full of misery, which it is not. But my friend’s question raises a fallacy about mental health work that I am here to dispel: That the work of mental health is drudgery and despair. That it is raking through the muck of degradation, tragedy, and sorrow.
Ongoing police brutality toward People of Color — particularly Black, Indigenous, and Latino people — and efforts to shed light on the racism baked into our legal systems are contributing to a heightened public conversation of the purpose and impact of policing and prisons. A lesser-known part of our criminal legal system, however, is its sprawling network of fines and fees.
These fines ensnare people interacting with this system in devastating cycles of debt and create massive barriers to post-conviction livelihood — and they must be eliminated. Throughout Washington State and the West Coast, there is growing momentum on this issue, and legislation before State lawmakers would begin to make critical progress.
There are times in my life when I try to protect myself from things I know will cause me pain. Sometimes I do this consciously, like when I see another Black or Brown body has been killed by the police. I may deliberately choose to not view the video, if there is one. Other times I protect myself unconsciously, as I have been with my lack of attention to the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. The trial is important, of course. But I am all too aware of how the justice system works to fully tune into an outcome I may or may not be prepared for. Because I know that justice in this country is rarely achieved, especially when matters of race are at play.