Something I’ve learned through this series is the amazing passion our women have for preserving our culture and passing it on to the next generation. One of those wonderful women is Anamalia Su’esu’e and here’s her story.
Empowered Through Cultural Preservation
Born and raised in Hawai’i to Su’esu’e and Lynda Su’esu’e, I’m the oldest of three girls. I’m forever grateful for the life my parents provided for us. My father came to Hawai’i in the 70s from Utulei, American Samoa. He later met my mother, an Italian/Polish woman from Long Island, New York, at Job Corps in Waimanalo. Fast forward some decades later and I’m now raising my two children near the places I grew up. I work with Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center, a Samoan community based nonprofit here in Hawai’i that offers Samoan language programs for families. I am also finishing my first year of the Psychology MA/PhD program at UH Mānoa. I’m in the Community, Cultural, and Developmental area and would like to explore Samoan identity development in diaspora. Growing up in a multicultural home in Hawai’i has surely shaped my research interests in graduate school. My goals are to develop and implement sustainable programs (maybe even some policies?) within our Samoan and Pasifika communities that support our Pasifika identity development. The way I see it: secure, supported identities = increased well-being.
I’m going to be stepping on some toes here writing this blog. This is a topic that has come to my attention through my own experiences, what I’ve seen online and other channels. Which is why I felt the need to write about it. Why do Polynesian men prefer white girls over Polynesian women? Notice I’m not saying Samoan men versus Samoan women or Fijian men versus Fijian women because I know what the arguments are there. “She could be my cousin,” “I can’t deal with the culture any longer,” (which by the way is a LAME excuse if you ask me. The culture part defs not the cousin part. Don’t date your cousin people.), and other excuses. That’s why I’m saying Polynesian men versus Polynesian women because it’s across the board. I did my “informal” research. So, let’s dive in.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, history was made in our community. A show that I’ve been extremely psyched to see dropped, and it has made waves across the world. That show is SIS. It was made by mainly by Pasifika women for our community. For those of us who have been searching for media where we can see ourselves, this is a blessing and something to be proud of. While many have been singing its praises, there are those ready to tear it down. Before I go into that, I want to tell you what I saw.
In summary, I saw a show that makes me feel proud of our heritage. It makes me feel like I can be comfortable in who I am. It showcased not just me, but it showcased me and my cousins hanging out. When I watched the show, I wasn’t watching women and men portraying characters. I was watching my family be authentically themselves. I saw my family and ancestors. Sure, some of it was dramatic, but come on it’s comedy and honestly, our families are filled with drama and laughter. It’s the first time I have watched a show and thought, I finally feel seen. That’s the power this show has. That’s the path this show is creating for our people.
Before you read anymore, this is a SPOILER ALERT. There are different aspects of this show that I’m going to dive into, and I hope you watch the show before reading the rest of this blog.
Once again, the people have to fight against greedy people who care more about what’s in their pockets rather than preserving our ancestry. This time it’s happening in Samoa, and let me tell you, I’ve had it with Samoa’s elitists. This time it’s O.F. Nelson Properties Limited. They want to sell our sacred land to the highest bidder without thinking about the consequences this will bring about to our heritage.
*Sigh* I can’t believe I’m even writing this post now. If you keep up with Polynesian news then you probably heard aboutIsland Business naming New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern as Pacific Islander of Year, and man did the flood gates open. I mean come on! Where is the one love here? So let’s dive into this cause there’s things we need to unpack in talking about this decision from the Fiji based magazine.
So, does World Rugby put limitations on Polynesian players and Pacific Islander teams? To be completely honest, I do believe they do. With the Rugby World Cup well underway, there has been one thing that bothers me. The fact that so many Polynesian players aren’t playing for their homeland country. I don’t know if this is their choice or the fact that there some underhand rules in place and setbacks in place that prevent them from doing so. I don’t believe that if you’re Samoan you have to play for Manu Samoa, but I do believe that if circumstances were different and you wanted to on the big stage, then you should be able to. Now, I’m going to place a disclaimer here and say that I’m not well versed in rugby and how all the clubs and professional teams work together or how the terms are set for players to play for one team. What I do know is that World Rugby has not been playing fair with Pacific teams.
“So’o le fau i le fau.” Translation: “Join the hibiscus fibre to hibiscus fibre.”
Now, I don’t speak fluent Samoan, but according to the website I went to, that’s a Samoan proverb that means “Unity is strength.” This is something that I think can perfectly describe the Polynesian community physically and metaphorically. We are a people that when we come together there is great strength.