Fa’afetai for Black Lives – Past, Present, and Future

Unless you’ve been living under a rock with no internet connection or like some orange man living in a bunker (yeah, homeboy is scared and he should be), you probably will emerge what is going on lately. However, if you don’t, then you already know about the movement that is happening in terms of The Black Lives Matter Movement. You know about George Floyd, Ahmad Albert, Breonna Taylor, and sadly, the list goes on.

George Floyd has been the most recent man murdered by the police. Since his murder, protests have been demonstrated across the globe. Making this one of the biggest movements to ever hit in the history books. However, this post is not going to be about the protests per se. This blog post is for us, Pasifika members, to look inward. Because believe or not, many of us have a lot to thank because of the work that Black lives have done.

The Blueprint for Activism

The Black lives that were advocating for their community’s rights in America, were the people who inspired The Polynesian Panthers. When Will ‘Ilolahia read Bobby Seale’s book Seize the Time, he saw that kind of activism was needed in New Zealand. It was during this time that police in New Zealand were leading the “Dawn Raids.” Immigrants were taken from their homes. They were hunted down and even turned in by their own family members. The latter I find so sad, because you would hope that our own family members would keep us safe no matter what.

The Polynesian Panthers set up programs to help their community. Their work aside from political activism was running food co-ops and homework centres, advocating for tenants and promoting Pacific languages. I find it so awesome that a book written by someone in America, found it’s way into the right hands, and those hands and others started a movement in New Zealand. To me, if these events hadn’t occurred, many of us whose parents came from the islands to New Zealand onward to America wouldn’t be where we are.

This is just one example of how Black lives have given us Pasifika people a blueprint on how we can raise our voices around the world and on our own islands. They have paved the way and shown us the light.

Activism in the States

Whenever Mauna Kea was happening, they were there with us. They were helping a Pasifika protest. They were helping us with our cause. This is the most recent thing that I can think of, and as I keep looking through our history as Pasifika people, I’m sure I will find more.

However, because of this support from the Black community I find it so difficult to not want to yell and rage at our people when we don’t think it’s our battle to fight. When there are people telling others like The Rock to “stick to what you know,” I’m like HE CAN HAVE AN OPINION OUTSIDE FILM AND WRESTLING! And, y’all know I have criticized The Rock in the past, so for me to be like, “Let him be,” is saying something. Our community in the States should be the first ones to join hands with those who are in the Black community because they have helped us so much.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

At the end of the day, Black Lives Matter. Period. I do want to also point out the Black Lives Matter extends also to our Pasifika Black lives. Meaning, we have a lot of work to do to help the Black lives within our community. Whether it be people who are afakasi or even those who are on the islands like those in West Papua. Their lives matter.

I guess it’s because one of my biggest support in understanding my heritage and the push to send me on this journey came from my friend. Yes, she’s my Black friend. Not my only one, but she’s just the one that literally made me think about history and the connections that happened. She’s one of the reasons why I even started Sipping Koko, and she was one of the first people I called to discuss the name and what it would be about. You see, she knows how understanding where you come from helps you understand where you’re going.

That’s why I think it’s time we as a Pasifika community start talking internally about why Black lives matter. We have to start talking internally about being anti-racist. We have to start shutting down those who still use the words like “meauli” when they need to be saying “tagata uli.” Words make a difference. You want to know how I know? Because words in a book from The Black Panthers in America started the movement of the Polynesian Panthers in New Zealand.

This blog is not so much an extensive history of how Black lives have been so much a part of Pasifika lives. It’s to point out that we need to be appreciative of the work and foundation they have laid out for us. So, to our Black ancestors, to the Black lives that came before us, the Black lives that are working now, and the Black lives of the future, I want to say fa’afetai lava. This Pasifika women sees the contributions you have made to our community, and I will continue to work to help your community be able to live your lives without any fear of oppression. Much alofa and power to the people!

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