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Monday, May 18, 2020

HSTA Human and Civil Rights Committee chair reflects on SY 2019–20

Chair Jodi Kunimitsu looks at the committee's work over the past year and what lies ahead

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

During the Hawaii State Teachers Association's first-ever State of Our Union broadcast on May 16, Human and Civil Rights Committee Chair Jodi Kunimitsu, a Maui High School math teacher, reflected on the committee's work over the past year and what lies ahead.

Below you'll find a transcript of her speech with links to more information.

Click here for more on HSTA's HCR Committee


Aloha! My name is Jodi Kunimitsu, and I’m a math teacher at Maui High School. This was my first year as chair of the Human and Civil Rights Committee. It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun.

Throughout the year, we participated in several community events. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we participated in parades on Maui and Oahu. Mahalo to the students at Waianae High School for painting our new banner.

We also celebrated Pride events on Kauai, Maui, and Oahu. We conducted an online campaign so educators could show support for LGBTQ+ students. And on Oahu, for the first time, we were able to provide a bus so students from GSA clubs on the Leeward Coast could join us in the parade. Their presence was incredible, and we hope to bring in students from other parts of the island.

In October, Molokai Chapter held its first Social Justice Youth Summit. I was there, representing the committee, and saw the impact it had on the community and our keiki. We hope the chapter makes this an annual event, and that other chapters are inspired to plan similar events.

Our main Social Justice Summit on Oahu was scheduled to take place earlier this month. But of course, we had to postpone. We had planned breakout sessions on foster youth rights, human trafficking, Micronesian culture, and much more. Student groups were also ready to present. When this is all over, we promise you an amazing summit, so stay tuned!

Now for our Pono Award. HCR has the honor of granting this award to a member who is a passionate advocate of social justice. Let's meet her now.

Thank you, Mili, and congratulations again! To view our full conversation, check out HSTA’s website and social media.

We also want to congratulate Scot Yamashita for winning our Friend of Youth Award! Scot has been volunteering as an AYSO soccer coach for 14 years. He was nominated by Central Chapter member Sharel Kasai, who says Scot has guided more than a thousand players, not just as a coach but as a mentor who instills respect, self-esteem, and friendship. Mahalo, Scot, for all you do!

Now looking ahead, we are working on several new and exciting projects.

First, we want to encourage our HSTA members to become true advocates for racial and social justice issues in Hawaii. Our plan is to develop a social justice PD course for our HSTA members. These members would work with community partners to take issues like cultural competence, trauma informed care, and restorative justice, and apply them to school and classroom settings. We’d call it CARE: Culture, Advocacy, Race, Equity.

We’ve also started working with the Government Relations Committee to develop an opening protocol that can be used at all HSTA meetings and events. And we plan to work more closely with GR moving forward to support legislation and policies related to human and civil rights in education.

Finally, I would like to thank and recognize the hard working members of our HCR Committee. I am so grateful for their support and dedication. I would also like to thank our union staff and leadership for their support. To all our members, keep an eye out for future HCR events, and please, join us!

Together, we can accomplish amazing things. Mahalo.

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