“We don’t ignore the past. We live with the past every day. And so this idea of ignoring difficult past subjects really doesn’t make too much sense for me. How will you learn if you don’t talk about it?” –Kamalani Hurley
Listen in as Kamalani advocates for the importance of speaking about hard topics, recognizing your identity and the identity of those around you, knowing your culture, and telling the stories that history wants to erase. A thoughtful conversation filled with powerful commentary and reflection.
Today’s Picture Book: Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Floyd Cooper.
Today’s Guest: Kamalani Hurley is a Native Hawaiian writer from Honolulu. After many years of teaching college linguistics and writing, Kamalani writes stories for and about her indigenous community. She grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Pālama near Chinatown and is a proud graduate of the venerable Hawaiian institution, the Kamehameha Schools. An avid reader and gardener, Kamalani lives in Hawaiʻi with her husband, their daughters and grandkids, two beach-loving dogs and a very large extended family. Kahoʻolawe, The True Story of an Island and Its People, is Kamalaniʻs first children’s book due Fall 2024 from Lerner. Kamalani is represented by James McGowan of BookEnds Literary Agency.
Book Description: Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa's Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.
News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.
Please consider supporting your local independent booksellers by purchasing Unspeakable. Find a store here: https://www.indiebound.org/
Other mentions in this episode:
The saying Kamalani mentioned: I ka wā mamua, i ka wā mahope which is roughly translated to mean we use the past to guide our future.
Kahoʻolawe, The True Story of an Island and Its People: Kamalani’s forthcoming debut picture book, illustrated by Harinani Orme. Read the Publisher’s Weekly announcement here: (scroll down to the near end)
Questions/Activities for further engagement based on the discussion:
1. Ask ourselves, “Why are we so afraid to talk about our past, to talk about our history?”
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