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The Conversation: Black Lives Matter in Hawai'i

Keisa Liu
Maui activists Maya Marquez (center) and Keisa Liu (right) protest on behalf of Black Lives Matter in Maui

To mark the first day of Black History Month, we hold a roundtable discussion on the experience of being Black in Hawai'i. While Hawai'i has often been lauded as a "racial paradise," our conversation with guests Sergeant James Terry, activist Maya Marquez, and musician Kamakak?hau Fernandez investigates the complexities of their experiences here in the islands.

Sergeant James Terry  is a twenty year veteran of the Maui Police Department. He's been a member of the Crisis Intervention Team and PEER Support Division and has worked with the Special Olympics.  Sergeant Terry has also spent his off time coaching girl's basketball, air rifle, football, and martial arts at Maui High School. Sergeant Terry has a degree in Psychology from the University of Oregon and was a researcher and contributor for the fifteen volume anthology of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University.  

Maya Marquez moved to Maui with her son nearly four years ago from her hometown Los Angeles in hopes of a safer life for her son. She is a masseuse and a birth-and-death doula. When her son asked her what he could do to not be killed by the police after the death of George Floyd, she stepped into the territory of political activism. Since then, Maya has organized several events in support of Black Lives Matters on Maui, and become a voice of advocacy for her community, exploring the relationship between the Black community and Maui Police Department. She is a descendant of the Berber tribe, and uses her roots to help guide her  Black and African advocacy in Hawaii.

Kamakak?hau Fernandez. Kamakak?hau is an accomplished musician best known for his Hawaiian falsetto. At just six weeks old, Kamakak?hau was adopted by a family living in Hawaii. Fluent in his adoptive tongue, Kamakak?hau has won several awards, including a coveted Na Hoku Hanohano award. He identifies as Hawaiian and often says he has an African-American exterior and Hawaiian interior.


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Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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