WHO WE ARE
Project Poke was established in 2016 to be a trendsetting, go-to poke destination in Fountain Valley, California. It quickly gained attraction and interest from locals and tourists alike after introducing the sushi donut and going viral on social media, with features from Insider Food, Tastemade, and Foodbeast.
A team of less than 20 people, this small business strives to make a big impact in its community through serving good food, as well as advocating for learning, education, and creative expression. You can learn more about Project Poke by visiting their website at www.projectpoke.com.
WHERE WE STAND
Words from Project Poke's co-owner
Systemic Racism. These were the words I wrote on the whiteboard behind me in my first Ethnic Studies course. It wasn’t the name of the course I was teaching. However, it was the topic of discussion that will, and has always, framed every class I’ve ever taught. I built all of my courses around the understanding that unbeknownst to many laypeople, racism does not do its most harm through the acts of a few individuals. Racism is actually built into our cultural systems through laws, jurisdictions, and everyday existence - through our compliance living in a common community. It is up to individual people to recognize these unjust systems… and to actively dismantle them.
Within 10 minutes into my lecture, I could hear half the class uncomfortably shuffling in their hard plastic seats. Although I saw one or two heads bob up and down in agreement, the more vocal students excitedly shot up their hands, confident to share with me an opinion I was not ready to hear: That what I was teaching actually propagated racism. And so I just had to ask: Do you mean to say, if we admit that systematic racism exists, that fuels racism? To me, that would be the same thing as saying: To acknowledge blindness meant to promote blindness.
I do understand though. I understand how difficult it is to acknowledge our own faults and although progress is attained in small pockets, it is hard to recognize that we have not agreed on a viable answer to solve the big problems. Sex education in schools is another one… to teach sex education meant to promote... sex? To shed light on an issue, meant to face up to it. It’s basically calling attention to the elephant in the room. And sometimes, most times, people find it easier to just ignore the elephant… especially when you’re not the one it’s sitting on.
Coming from an institution where discussing racism on a systems-level was a normal, daily conversation, as if saying the sky was blue, I was unprepared to receive this kind of reaction. I tried again: If we continue to see racism reserved for a few hateful individuals who just needed to be locked up, it will not cure the problem. How many people are you going to lock up? We must first recognize that racism is embedded into our very culture and existence, and endorsed by our institutions and authorities. When we understand racism on a systematic level - what some researchers sometimes refer to as “a system of advantages based on race,” only then can we start to beat it. It was only the first day of class. And what I learned was that there aren’t many people in the world who enjoy a mirror being held up to their faces.
For the students who did remain in my class, at the very least, some learned some good vocabulary words. And at the most, my class was an eye-opening, transformative experience. I quickly became the talk of the campus, the professor who would make you angry first, and then make you think second. While students confessed changes in themselves, it was I that inherited the biggest lesson: Wow… did we all have a long way to go.
That class was 14 years ago, and at this time, 9/11 had just occurred five years prior, and many hate crimes ensued among the U.S. South Asian population. However, today, I am referencing George Floyd. The continuous unimaginably atrocious acts afflicted towards Black Americans serves as a stark reminder of a flawed racial cultural system that is stuck in a warped cycle. Imagine a bicycle wheel that is wobbly, imperfect, and imbalanced. What cyclists refer to as “untrue”. A “true” wheel is perfectly balanced. When spun, there is no wobble, no shake. A wheel that is “untrue” compromises the rider’s trust and safety by throwing the rider off the seat and into the dirt. When we have a justice system that is not “true,” that is, off-balanced, biased to one side, untrustworthy, NO rider is safe on this bike.
We are in search of a wheel that is “true” - a wheel that is balanced, centered, and protects any, and ALL riders.
NEW DESIGN FOR EMPLOYEE WORK UNIFORM
Project Poke is looking for a new design for their employee work shirt. The owners have backgrounds in Peace and Justice Studies as well as Ethnic and Race Studies, so it is only natural that they are seeking a design that embraces the ideals of Project Human Compass. The graphic must illustrate the following idea:
“No Justice, No Peace”
A slogan of sorts that showed up in the 1980s as a response to the horrific attacks against Black Americans, "No Justice, No Peace" are words that conjure up a multitude of responses and feelings in different individuals. What do these words mean when taken apart? What does it mean when strung together in today's climate? Project Poke is interested in how artists conceptualize this idea. At the same time, the illustration must represent the food served at the restaurant. It will take a talented artist and a well-developed idea to marry the two.
The chosen graphic will be voted on and worn by Project Poke employees. The artist will be invited to display their work on a wall designated for artwork at Project Poke's location in Fountain Valley, CA for a minimum of one month and a maximum of one year. Shirts may also be sold to the general public, with a percentage of sale proceeds going to a charity actively fighting for democracy, equality, and justice.
Click here for a list of charities Project Human Compass supports.
You must be 18 or over to submit.
Artists who submit their work understand that their contribution is voluntary and that this is a fee-based project.
A payment of $100 will be given, with no other royalties and fees permissible.
Intellectual property and exclusive rights of the artwork (only) will be owned by Project Poke.
Artwork must fit on a 8.5x11 paper.
Any art medium would work (including original photographs), however, vector designs are preferred for easy screening.
The artist's signature must accompany the graphic in small font.
Artists must submit an original essay or statement that further develops their idea on the theme of "No Justice, No Peace".
Please name the artwork in "quotations".
This call for action will end at Project Poke's discretion.
Project Poke reserves the right to work with the artist to change the artwork if needed to better suit the purpose of the restaurant's work uniform.
Please send any questions and your submission to with "Project Human Compass" in the subject line.