Since I was a young child, one thing I knew for sure was that I was Samoan. I am Polynesian but again, more specifically, SAMOAN. I remember in middle school, a classmate asked my friend Ofa if she was Samoan, and she quickly shouted in an offended tone, “No!” I recall having
This was something of the norm in my own community. East Palo Alto has a high percentage of Polynesians compared to other places in the Greater Bay Area. As tiny as the city is, I also felt that my own people and fellow Polynesians have become small minded in this world. There are not enough fingers on my hand to count how many times Polynesians, including myself, have made a racial slur against the other ethnicity, particularly between Samoans and Tongans. We would argue and bring up factual ideas about how our ancestors were superior over the other. “How Samoans use to wipe their a** with rocks.” Or Tongans are centaur’s, half man-half horse, because horse meat is a delicacy in the Tongan culture.
It bothers me that Polynesian cultures share similar values and we ourselves on upholding them. Growing up with Pacific Islanders, we stuck together, had each other’s back, and fought against discrimination and racism. However, we are ignorant in a sense that we, ourselves, are partaking in the act of discrimination and are racist towards one another. We are blindly carrying this hate that our ancestors had for each other long before us. With passive remarks and judgements within our own families even as we go outside of our homes, we without thinking, are becoming our ancestors all over again. My own thoughts and reactions are far from that, and it is important to know that we have a generation ahead of us that should be taught differently.
I recommend to the next generation that you sit down and open the conversation. Speak of these matters with family and friends. Challenge each other and ask the questions that we avoid or afraid to bring up. I encourage the young people to listen and learn and teach others of our past and how we’ve came together a long way. To see what it stands for and the path we made ourselves to stand side by side. Let’s not allow ourselves to continue this ignorance, hate that clouds our hearts of what we genuinely are of the people of the South Pacific.
We are all basically brothers and sisters and come from the same ocean. Share the same values, and share the same waters. We are all alike and have similarities and shouldn’t be like that towards one another especially if we are neighbors. Although we unite and stand up for each other against others, we shouldn’t be divided amongst ourselves. Our fathers and their fathers before them protect the same waters. We have mastered the same ocean with the same eyes and same ears. The culture values we built and shield as armor comes from the same forger. That forger is from the same ocean. We are more than just neighbors, we bathe in the same sea, and cry under the same sun.