The Honolulu Biennial closed March 8-May 5 2019 with the theme To Make Wrong / Right / Now and I was very happy to be a part of it, both as a volunteer bearing a pohaku in Bernice Akamine’s opening installation piece at Aliʻiōlani Hale, to being a docent and to being a speaker in the public programming on Wahi Pana and my Color Bridges series.
At one of my favorite installations at the YWCA, at the entrance to the Patsy Mink Center, a millenial docent patiently explained the pieces before my boomer generation girlfriend, and its significance. I thought the works had been chosen for its relevance to Patsy Mink and her struggle against racism, sexism, and everything in between. He didn’t know who she was. I blurted out: ‘She was a local politician, first woman who ran for governor in Hawaii, first Asian American…ah…well, she changed our world!” Our guide looked kindly at me and repeated: ‘Changed our world? I am sure she did alot but…” His point was clear—how important could she have been if nobody knew her? My friend loyally supported me by insisting that “Yes, she did indeed change our world, she drove Title IX”, something every man woman, boy, and girl takes for granted now.” After he listened to us explain what Title IX was (he had heard of Title IX), he declared, “I guess you’re right, she did change our world. How is it possible nobody knows about her?” We all agreed.
The internet is full of imagery and stories but lost in a sea of anonymity by the sheer mass of humanity drowning all but the voices of the trolls out…this is my tribute to adding a voice in the hope that someone might google Patsy Mink and appreciate how we stand on those tiny shoulders today.
At the YMCA in downtown Honolulu there is the Patsy T. Mink Center for business and leadership that helps everyone become a successful entrepreneur. They have helped non-profits and for profits of all ages, ethnicities and dreams to become drivers in their communities. Taking a walk through the Capital District you can see her statue in front of the Main Public Library and admire the architecture of the YMCA at the center. Sometimes taking walking tours to see what names are left behind and doing a little digging helps us understand those who went before us to help us move forward into our future.