We urge Taiwanese Americans to stand in solidarity with those protecting Mauna Kea.
Today, we reflect on our own island nation’s Austronesian ancestry; the many times she was confronted with imperial and colonial violence; the work of our own indigenous peoples resisting foreign and local rule. We admit that the Taiwan we know today — vibrant, progressive, technologically advanced as she is — exists in imperfect parallel with other colonized lands: historical and holy grounds turned into tourist destinations. Dress, language, and tradition flattened to performative motifs. Heartache and loss embedded into every family’s lineage, no matter their origin or how they’ve grown to intersect.
As we support the Taiwanese people in their right to self-determination, and the indigenous people especially in their right to declare what kind of country Taiwan should be, we support the Native Hawaiians and their allies protesting the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope on their sacred mountain.
Solidarity, I think, looks like this: using our own histories and stories to inform our compassion for those of others. In our language, we call this 概念 (gai nian / kai liam): how we conceptualize another’s suffering by finding its likeness within ourselves. Can Taiwan, the long-lost Oceania sister, summon the due familial courage to show up for Hawai’i?
I’d say yes, and close with this: as Taiwanese Americans, we are always looking for ways to fit in. Our dual identities sometimes feel like burdens, appendages that prevent us from appearing the proper shape. But they can also be how we uniquely offer ourselves to the world: our two-sided 概念, the depth of a double inheritance. Mauna Kea, we stand with you today and every day.
L. Chen, EIC