49 Voices: Kokayi Nosakhere of Anchorage

Kokayi Nosakhere of Anchorage (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media)

This week we’re hearing from Kokayi Nosakhere in Anchorage. Nosakhere is community coordinator for Anchorage’s branch of the NAACP.

Listen now

NOSAKHERE: When it comes down to diversity, I think there are a lot of misconceptions because of the PR we put out. Mountain View was the most diverse neighborhood in the country. So we’ve been celebrating that for the last three to four years.

What diversity? I mean we keep talking about this, but if we look at our legislature, it’s White and Native. It’s not reflective of the community that we live in. It’s not that diverse.

You have a school system, with Mountain View, that despite the diversity, the teachers are primarily white. If you ask them questions about Black history, they’ve never heard that before. In their history class, it’s still white. There’s no internalization of what happened to Native people up here… of Black people building the railroad up here — in Alaska. Of the fact that segregation occured up here. There were housing areas where Black people could go, places where Native people couldn’t go and places where Native people couldn’t go.

Everything that happened in the Lower 48 happened up here.

When our children understand what really happened in America, they will be empowered to create that city on the hill that Ronald Reagan made mention to, but we have not yet materialized.

One of the beautiful things of having Mountain View is we don’t have to go to Sudan — the Sudan has come to us. We don’t have to go to Vietnam — Vietnam has come to us. We don’t have to go to Iran — Iran has come to us, and has come authentically. There are people who just literally got off the plane who are here, who still speak the language, who still engage in the cultural practices. So if we wanna compete on the global level, our children here in Anchorage, Alaska have a very unique opportunity to be able to communicate across the world authentically because they shared authentically in the cultural experience of that space.

a portrait of a man outside

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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