Racial profiling is not new to anyone who has encountered discrimination before. For Polynesians, that would be rare compared to what has been viral on the news and several social media engines. On the case of two brothers who stopped by in Salt Lake, Utah for a drink at Willie’s bar, this would be the first to go viral on the news and in places where there is a small population or percentage of islanders from Polynesia.
The two Samoan brothers experienced more than the owner presumed is a misunderstanding. Clearly, from what the bartender stated, it was also supported by the owner of this bar, in the State of Utah. A bar that experienced problems in the past with Polynesians, according to the owner. They did not state directly what kind of Polynesian, whether the incident in the past had any connection with Samoans, Hawaiians, Tongan or Niuean. The owner mentioned, some. He didn’t say, “some, but not all.” He said some Polynesians.
What they failed to realize is, Polynesia is a triangular ring of many islands. If they’re considerably calling these two Samoan brothers, Polynesian, then they’re not only labeling anyone who looks Samoan, a Polynesian; but it could be any sort of mixed person that has the color brown on their skin. Must I add, this astounding experience clearly display a huge difference between spotting troublemakers and profiling skin colors.
Peculiarly, the brothers’ experience at this bar is not only rare, but mortifying for any individual from Samoa or the Polynesian islands. The bartender stated that the bar rules are, in the exact words, “We do not serve Polynesians, it is the order of the owner, and if I do not follow, I’ll get fired.”
This caused a viral outburst on social media. It is not only discriminating to those who have zero knowledge and awareness of what occurred at the bar in the past, but is also scrutinizing on the basis of discriminatory practice towards people.
This is just another form of hallucination if you ask me. Every bar or club experiences altercation and any ruckus of some sort around alcohol. This normal bicker or hype normally occurs from days of NFL seasons, arm wrestling and beer drinking competitions, dart and pool table tournaments. Anything around alcohol will stir chaos most certainly, but it still doesn’t give the owner of the bar the right to profile or stereotype a whole community and people that way. Ever.
This incident is racial profiling on “Polynesians,” and a highly discriminatory practice in every way; for a business licensed under the federal and state laws-and the main law that some people have the tendency to look past which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. (Remember Chick a Filet & LGBT?)
I could understand if they mentioned Samoan or Tongan, hence, there is a lot of islands in the Polynesia circle. Whatever excuses I heard on the news, it is pretty clear that it still doesn’t dissect the situation from racial discrimination at its best. If you tell someone, “I don’t serve Polynesians,” then in the latter, try to dispute that saying as meant for jailbirds and troublemakers, then profiling colors must’ve been a wild coincidence as a jailbird or a troublemaker are distinct from the word “Polynesian.” Instead of spotting troublemakers and jailbirds, they were spotting people of color.
The way this word, “Polynesian” was mentioned does show great significance of that difference in who they did not allow in the Willie’s bar. The bartender did not say, polyester, polygamy, or polyacrylamide, or polyandrous..She said, Polynesians!
Must I add, there are very many atolls in that Polynesian ring too. So, the uproar of the very many complaints and concerns on social media presently about this incident in Utah is not coming from just Samoans. It is coming from all clusters and groups of all Polynesian islands who are affected by stereotyping and profiling incident.
This is a difficult situation, as Polynesians are always known to be family-oriented, friendly and compassionate people.But we can use this to empower and enlighten one another to pursue bigger and better things in life; despite the way people perceive of us. You see, adversity determines who we are..and one who blooms through it will continue to bloom through anything and succeed.
Polynesians are well-known as strong people of the Oceania, through their stamina of fishing and cultivating talents in sports. They are also very talented wrestlers and natural fighters with tempers. And many portray Polynesians as body builders or huge bulldozers who stops at none.
Aside from that, Polynesians are relationship keepers. You’ll miss out on the hospitality that most share and reminisce about, of these people as the most friendliest individuals you will ever meet in this world. When someone picks on you, they got your back. Their home is your home, too. Their family is yours also. When you’re hungry, they’ll feed you everything- usually, the normal size of soda case boxes filled with months-worth of food.
With this situation in Utah, it has attract a lot of angry Polynesians. But my encouragement for my people is; we can smash wooden chairs on our heads and start a fight with everyone, but it doesn’t change hatred in someone’s heart towards us. We’re not like that.
Through worst, we can learn from the way people treat us and among ourselves.While anyone can treat you wrongly and say, you’re of no noble color, or you don’t belong here.It is okay; the burden is on them, not us. As Martin Luther King stated in several of his encouraging words: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear..Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now. He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword.”
Willie’s bar may lose sale, even the business license through lawsuits, but we’ll live on as who we truly are–loving Polynesian people with dignity, love and respect. People who work hard and knows no one owes us anything…we earn everything ourselves!
Remember one thing, every corner of this country has an immigrant that came here for a purpose. Quite frankly for most, the American dream. And from immigrants, we all became citizens. Not just Polynesians, everyone who is not Native American.
Let’s be strong and do good for our parents and families praying for us back home too. Not during the time we become victims; but all the time, when we’re in crowds, circles, intoxicated, doing the choohooos in the middle of the road and threatening to poki (beat up) someone after one heineken and so forth.This does not apply to those who are yearning and pursuing for greater good in goals and dreams to stay in stride but a nice reminder to avoid predicaments while away from home.
Life here is simply easy, but unlike home, we pay utilities, bills, rent and mortgage and so forth..We’re free to do a lot here; but to get by, we must do work..Yes, I wake up to go to work. I take classes, find webinars and workshops,take care of my family besides my own back home,cook, clean, blog, write and drool on homeworks late at night. This is what I came for, and someone’s ignorance about the color of my skin will never change my stride nor take that focus from me, because all that we do is for our betterment as well as our families.
It’s a culture shock to some that we work hard for our fa’alavelave’s (family functions & events) and families. It’s a culture shock for us too when kids, at the age of 18, have to move out of their homes here. Learning other cultures is not only a culture shock, but also rewarding to understand. Our focus is mainly on now and what we’re doing though. And I mean now, meaning, what we’re doing out here for ourselves and our loved ones home praying for us everyday. Keep meditating on the centered realm that what’s out there will not stop us from doing good and being the most friendliest people in this world.
Keep focus on your dreams and goals, my dear Polynesian brothers and sisters. We can’t challenge hatred that is taught, but we can approach any situation with light–the love our parents taught us. When you apply love & our undefeated achievements to pure ignorance, the battle is half won! Yeah there is racism, yes there is stereotyping…there is hatred…Unlike love, “hatred has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Love Wins!
Alofa tele atu!
Lynn (Author of Lovefolds of Our Upbringing-