It’s important for me to mention especially as I network within ethnic forums of my Samoan and Tongan groups. I feel a kinship with both cultures now that I’m an adult.
I know that ethnicity plays a strong role in our Polynesian identity especially as we globalize. We have to represent our people as well as our individual selves. For those of you who identify with multiple ethnicities, I’m sure you can relate to the complexities of choosing.
I decided not to choose to identify solely as a Samoan or solely as a Tongan because neither would be true for me. I’m both. And as a Californian, my socioeconomic status distinguished me more so than ethnicity. Not to mention, sometimes Americans can’t tell islanders apart let alone a yellow faced girl with curly hair from another yellow faced girl with curly hair.
Growing more and more comfortable within my skin, I’ve taken more ownership of being a proud Samoan and being a proud Tongan. I don’t feel half of anything. I feel twice as capable.
Audre Lorde says, “If you didn’t define yourself for yourself, you’d be crunched into other people’s fantasies of you and eaten alive.”
I take this decision to define myself, and peace in my spirit, as I pursue higher education in social justice, and as I freelance as a writer and visual artist.