American Imperialism in the Pacific in the 21st Century


The people of Palau, Marshall Islands and Micronesia, through the Compact of Free Association, are able to travel freely between their island nations and the USA, are able to work and eligible to receive the same services and benefits as US citizens. In exchange, the US military has access to land and maintain a military presence in that part of the Pacific. What is not being said is that it is also a form of compensation for poisoning their islands when our government conducted 67 nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958, which resulted in a rise of birth abnormalities and various forms of cancer.

Because Congress has not funded COFA, the financial burden falls upon the state of Hawaii where over 10,000 Micronesians live, and the Circuit Court has just ruled that Hawaii is not obligated for the cost of COFA, leaving many of those people in peril.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the earth, our federal government is wasting BILLIONS of our tax payer dollars in Afghanistan, expenses our Congress justify in a heartbeat, because you know - terrorism. But when it comes to accountability, our government’s fingers point to corrupt leaders or a corrupt culture because it’s convenient - when they should really point their fingers at themselves!

And in Hawaii, the false promises of COFA has created tension and resentment between the people of Hawaii and Micronesians, our Moana siblings, a tension that is so ugly and not PONO, and we’ve taken our eyes off the true culprit, the source of the problem: American imperialism, which uproots, divides, discards and ultimately destroys people.



Tongan Proverb: Pō fakafitaʻa ʻuli.

Tongan Proverb: Pō fakafitaʻa ʻuli.
English Translation: At night, one persists with steering.
Meaning: One who endures to the end, despite the hardship involved.

The origins of this proverb comes from navigation and the challenges of navigating in the darkness of night, without visible celestial bodies to guide the navigator. Yet, the navigator persists and continues the journey. 

(from Dr. ‘Okusitino Māhina’s Reed Book of Tongan Proverbs)

YOU, the choice of my parents. by Konai Helu Thaman

You come clad in your fine mats and tapa cloth
Your brown skin bursting with fresh perfumed oil
Your eyes shining like stars in a clear night
YOU, the choice of my parents
You will bring them wealth and fame
With your western-type education
And second-hand car
But you do not know me, my prince
Save that I am first born and have known no other man
I fit your plans and schemes for the future
But you cannot see the real me
My face is masked with pretense and obedience
And my smiles tell you that I care
I have no other choice

The priest has left the altar now
And the dancing has begun;
I see myself dying slowly
To family and traditions;
Stripped of its will and carefree spirit,
Naked on the cold and lonely waters
Of a strange family shoreline
Alienated from belonging truly.

I love as a mere act of duty
My soul is far away
Clinging to that familiar ironwood tree
That heralds strangers
To the land of my ancestors
I will bear you a son
To prolong your family tree
And fill the gaps in your genealogy
But when my duties are fulfilled
My spirit will return to the land of my birth
Where you will find me no more
Except for the weeping willows along the shore

Māori Proverb

Māori Proverb: Kāore te kumara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka.
Translation: The kumara (sweet potato) does not speak of its own sweetness.
Meaning: You ain’t all that.

Five Poems on not being a real Tongan by Karlo Mila

From the book A Well Written Body


Three educated perspectives

PhD 1.
The Tongan
in linguistics
tells me that you can only be Tongan
if you speak Tongan.
There is lipisitiki
on her smiling teeth. 

PhD 2.
The Tongan
anthropologist stares
when I ask
what impact the World Wide Web
has on conceptions of tā and vā
when ideas travel across time and space
faster than the speed of light.
He suggests I am suffering
from a New Zealand-born identity crisis. 

PhD 3.
The Tongan
educational specialist
says she can tell the difference
between real Tongans 
and those who are not.
Real Tongans say 
like, Doe a Deer a female deer.

Those who are not real Tongans
say “Tonga”
like, Tea, a drink with jam and bread,
and have 
long long way to go. 

A Media Sound Bite

Before the tape recorder is turned on
the Radio New Zealand Pacific correspondent
asks me if I am famous
because he’s never heard of me.
I tell him that I am not.

When the tape recorder is 
turned off
he says
that I do not sound
like a Pacific Islander.

I smile politely,
say nothing
does he.

A Historical Perspective

My Tongan
cultural advisor
tells me not to worry about them.
They are “very purist.”
I am the face of the future
language is only a skill set. 

To be truly Tongan
genealogy determines everything. 

reigns supreme. 

Pukepuke Fonua: the literal meaning is to grasp and hold on to the land, a rich metaphor for maintaining cultural traditions. The act of pukepuke fonua can be challenging in the diaspora, but not impossible, as beautifully demonstrated here by the Pukepuke ‘O Tonga Trio, based in South Auckland, NZ.


Unsung Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

  • Cecil MooreMunicipal Government Official, Lawyer, Civil Rights Activist, Marine Corps Officer
    Credit: “Cecil Moore gets out of county prison Thursday morning”, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photograph Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA
  • Dorothy HeightCivil Rights Activist, Women’s Rights Advocate, Human Rights Activist, Organization Founder / Official
    Credit: Library of Congress. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-119481. [Height is shown here with the labor leader A. Philip Randolph, at a banquet c. 1970–1974.]
  • Howard FullerEducator, Civil Rights Activist, Community Activist
    Credit: Howard Fuller. [Pictured during his time as a community organizer in Durham, NC, 1960s.]
  • A. Leon HigginbothamJurist / Judge, Civil Rights Activist
    Credit: Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham.
  • Ella BakerCivil Rights Activist, Organization Founder / Official
    Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Visual Materials from the NAACP Records [reproduction number, e.g. LC-USZ62-123456]
  • Fannie Lou HamerCivil Rights Activist
    Credit: Library of Congress, 1964. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsc-01267.
  • James FarmerOrganization Founder / Official, Civil Rights Activist, Educator
    Credit: Library of Congress. World Telegram & Sun photo by Walter Albertin, 1963. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-119481.
  • Modjeska SimkinsHuman Rights Activist, Political Activist, Civil Rights Activist, Organization Founder / Official
    Credit: Modjeska Monteith Simkins Papers, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina. [Originally commissioned by the National Park Service.]
  • Nettie AsberryPianist, Civil Rights Activist, Social Worker
    Credit: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, UW23184 (Nettie Asberry).

The Oxford African American Studies Center is free for Black History Month (just a few more days!). Simply use Username: blackhistorymonth and Password: onlineaccess to login. 

(via diasporicroots)