UH Hilo selected to host TRHT Center

Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 932-7669

For Immediate Release

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo was recently selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to host a Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center (https://www.aacu.org/initiatives/truth-racial-healing-transformation-campus-centers). Established in partnership with AAC&U and hosted by 47 other colleges and universities across the country, including UH Mānoa, TRHT Campus Centers pursue the shared goal of preparing the next generation of leaders and thinkers to break down racialized practices and to dismantle the belief in a hierarchy of human value. TRHT is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism.

Led by a task force comprised from members of the Chancellor’s Committee for Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, UH Hilo’s TRHT Center, known as Waiolama, aims to provide a safe space for the campus community to engage in critical conversations around racial disparities and systemic injustices, both past and present, and promote healing and understanding of shared humanity. Through Waiolama, faculty, staff, students, and community members will be invited to participate in events throughout the year and collectively learn, collaborate, and implement transformative campus and institutional changes.

Waiolama will be celebrating its kick-off event virtually with guest speaker Dr. Valli Kalei Kanuha on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, the National Day of Racial Healing. Kanuha, an indigenous, feminist, activist-practitioner scholar with a focus on gender violence against women and children, and the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender and sexual identity, will speak on “The Beloved ʻOhana: Modern Abolition, Social Justice, Liberation & Freedom.” Registration is required.

“The structural framework for this initiative was inspired by the reflective insight and campus engagement around the Huliau Series, which was first hosted during the summer of 2020,” explained Jenna Waipa, co-chair of the DEI Committee and co-author of UH Hilo’s Waiolama action plan. “Our goal is to provide thoughtful and intentional learning opportunities for all members of our campus community to promote courageous conversations and necessary dialogue around urgent concerns impacting our campus.”

Kekai Lindsey, who also assisted in drafting the action plan, noted the background and significance of the naming of UH Hilo’s TRHT Center, Waiolama.

“Waiolama is inspired by a tributary and marshland inland of Hilo One, once famed for its glistening sands. Waiolama was dredged and filled for ‘economic progress,’ forevermore transforming our landscape, its history and cultural heritage becoming unrecognizable to today’s generation.

“This is one example of a multitude that reflects an imbalance in our perspectives and values and its impact,” he added. “The restoration of water is a metaphor that reflects our experience as Kānaka. It is a reminder of the guiding principles of our objectives to orient ourselves to our past to inform our actions now and hereafter, and to foster an environment that restores our relationship to self, family, community, and to our environment.”


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