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Inspirational People of Seattle-Ish

by Kellie Komorita | Jan 18, 2019 | Opinions

2018 was exhausting. Honestly, it felt like a decade, didn’t it? While it was easy to fall into hopelessness at times, we found encouragement in the people who really stepped up. All of these local folks have inspired us in 2017-2018 by tenaciously challenging the status quo in a way that helps us envision a more just, equitable, and beautiful future.

Dae Shik Kim Hawkins Jr.

Journalist, Activist

A staunch advocate for Seattle’s homeless community and grassroots journalist, Dae Shik Kim Hawkins Jr. tracks and reports on the county’s homeless sweeps (when law enforcement comes into homeless encampments and forcibly removes people from the area with little warning). We’re continually impressed with his ability to rally and organize the surrounding community to assist the homeless to gather and protect their belongings during the sweeps. As a grassroots journalist, he reports on the struggles our homeless population grapples with without losing sight of their individual integrity and humanity, and isn’t afraid to shine a light on those who are actively hurting the community. In his boldness, he challenges Seattle to be the best version of itself.


Hari Kondabolu

Comedian, Actor, Filmmaker

Hari Kondabolu once lived here… His recent Netflix special was filmed at the iconic Neptune Theatre, so we count him as a Seattlite. You might know him as the guy who stood up to the creators of "The Simpsons” with his recent film “The Problem with Apu”. In this documentary, Kondabolu examines Apu and the cultural ripple effect the character had on the Indian-American community. With wit, self-awareness, and a dark sense of humor, as a comedian he is as hilarious as he is insightful. His standup routines seamlessly weaves in and out of personal anecdotes, race relations, dick jokes (gotta pay them bills), and hilarious stories about his Mother. Next time someone who’s not Native American asks you why they can’t wear a headdress, honor Kondabolu and respond with, “Genocide. Because genocide.”


Ijeoma Oluo

Writer, Activist

There are few people on this Earth who have the social media and writing prowess to effortlessly communicate complex thoughts and ideas in comment sections while deflecting trolls with a sharp wit. With unbelievable grace, patience, and boldness, Ijeoma Oluo bravely speaks out about race, gender, and sexuality online and offline. We so appreciate the intentional and thoughtful labor that Oluo brings to the table. We don’t deserve her. Oluo’s book and New York Times bestseller, “So You Want to Talk About Race” has become required reading in our office.


Nikkita Oliver

Artist, Activist, Attorney, Educator, Writer

As if you can’t tell by all of things she’s qualified to be, Nikkita Oliver is an all around badass who’s able to find a balance between hope and urgency and able to connect the philosophical with the tangible. Her art and poetry has the ability to touch your soul and turn pain into restoration. We were disappointed that Oliver didn’t make it further in Seattle’s mayoral race in 2017, but you can’t deny the influence her platform had on the overall race and her ability to ignite hope into Seattle’s disenfranchised constituents. Oliver’s compassion, generosity, and humility makes her a treasure to have in the community. She’s been a fierce advocate for police reform and alternatives for the new youth jail. We greatly admire her resilience to stand her ground when it comes to issues that impact communities of color, especially when it comes to Seattle’s youth.


Pramila Jayapal

Washington State Representative

Jaded when it comes to the government lately? Need some hope and inspiration? Look no further than Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the House. Voted in by Seattle’s District 7 constituents, she has been steadfast in her advocacy for immigrant rights, women’s rights, accessible and equitable healthcare, and environmental protection. A force to be reckoned with, Jayapal was even arrested for participating in a pro-immigration protest this year. Her ability to tactfully maneuver in government bureaucracy while  adhering to the principles of the communities she represents makes us proud to call her our representative.


Soleil Ho & Zahir Janmohamed

Co-Hosts of the “Racist Sandwich” podcast

Good food has a story, but those stories aren’t always given a platform. This is where the previously Portland-based podcast “Racist Sandwich” comes in. Soleil Ho and Zahir Janmohamed have created a special platform for other POC to share their stories that are tied to food and cuisine. Each episode is intimately personal and both co-hosts are naturally charming and delightful to listen to. “Racist Sandwich” is one of those rare gems that makes you laugh, cry, contemplate life, and fills you with gratitude. Each story and experience shared makes us reexamine the lens in which we view food, the people who make it, their cultures, and its meaning in our communities.

Special shout out to Stephanie Kuo, Juan Diego Ramirez, and Alan Montecillo who have also worked on “Racist Sandwich”.


Kellie Komorita is a brand designer and corgi-illustrator extraordinaire at Modern Species. For more posts from her, click here.

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