Hi everyone, I'm one of the IWOE Advocates my name is Sosaia; but it is pronounced like Josiah but with the letter S instead.
I was born in Sydney, Australia and was raised for the first 10 years by my grandmother and maternal aunties in the Kingdom of Tonga located in West Polynesia, South Pacific Islands.
Once my grandmother passed away, I was brought back to Sydney to my parents. This is where I first experienced racism for the first time from white kids at public school. I was 10 years that time I did not know one word of English.
The white kids at school would racially discriminate against me by calling me, "Coconut", "Monkey", "Big Head", "Why all you Islanders look the same", "Are you all related" and "Why is that you Islanders are so big and fat". The word, "Coconut" is a derogatory term used by the White People in Sydney to degrade and make a mockery of Islanders; it means an Islander with no brain or of low intelligence.
I used to be a lonely kid who was always minding my own business and kept myself distant, until one day three girls approached me. They felt sorry for me, their names are Nancy, Venus and Jasmine and we became good friends. Nancy was born in Sydney, and she is Arabic Christian Orthodox from Lebanon. Venus was born in Sydney and she is Aboriginal, Native American and Tongan. Jasmine was born in Sydney and her family were refugees from Afghanistan.
I had a hard time learning to read and write English, and my friends used body language to communicate with me. With their help I began to understand and more quickly pickup English. The teachers had a hard time understanding me, but my friends would use body gestures to help me communicate.
I was sent to the School Counsellor by the teachers and they recommended I see a speech therapist to improve my spoken English skills including pronunciation. Their excuse was I was a slow learner and they placed me in a Disability Class known as Support Unit for Special Needs.
I did miss my friends and the School Counsellor tried to tell my mum to stop speaking my native language to me at home so I can improve my English Speaking. So they also advised my dad as well but knowing that my dad won't listen, he told them, "My son is not palangi (The word, "palangi" mean "white man" in the Indigenous Polynesian Language), you are not taking his identity from him and we refused to assimilate, had enough of your palangi bullshit", than my dad got up, took me by the hand and said, "palangi ta'e" translating, "White Shit". Then we went home.
Once I better understood the English language, all the white kids at school who still racially discriminated against me and my brother, would incite me so often it would result in fights during school hours. Then I was punished with after school detention, but my mum always come to my rescue and accuse the teachers of being racist and not doing their job properly protecting kids from their bullies. Yes, most were white teachers! The teachers were really scared of my dad, every time my dad come to school to pick me up, they always wondering why my dad has an angry and grumpy face.
All the racist white kids could not bully me and my brother anymore, so they befriended us. The look on their racist white parent's face was gold! Yes, we became a multicultural school were there was a mixture of Middle Eastern, Pacific Islanders, White Australians, Aboriginals, and Asians.
This started to become an issue about racism so my school had an emergency Parent Meeting night to help implement AntiRacism and learn how the community can move forward together. Well much was not done, and the BIPOC parents took arm of the situation by informing the white parents that if their children continued being racist and bully towards the non-white students, the parents would be targeted as well. All the white people being racist went all quiet and silent. That is my story for the day, stay tuned for more another day.
Left my sister Soneita, my brother Aisake in the middle and I am on the right.
What inspires me about my culture, is the love and connection we have for our natural environment. Our Ancient Stories passed through oral tradition helps to keep our culture alive through Indigenous chant, songs, music, art and scientific knowledge. There's a time for a fishing season and there's a time for planting different organic foods each season. We live of the land, we fish, we go seafood hunting during the lowtides and drink clean rain water. Food was plentiful, no-one goes starving because we learn to take what we need and share resources with our people. This is called balance, we don't rob from the resources of the earth if it has gold, silver or diamond. Doesn't matter if it helps to make money or profit, because we know when we upset mother nature, everyone will be affected. The land will get sick, the organic food will be poison and our people will suffer. We must nuture and take care of our mother earth so in return they will look after us all. We must learn to balance mother nature and if we take more than what we need, it's called greediness. Before Christianity came to the Pacific Islands, through our oral tradition, we were created by our ancestoral spirit Gods. When they created everything, they returned to the land, the sea and the sky. Our common ancestor very well known in the Polynesian Mythology, his name varies but it's the same ancestoral spirit God: Tangaloa (Tongan), Tagaloa (Samoan), Kanaloa (Hawaiian), Tangaroa (Maori) and many variations of the same name. We as Black Indigenous Pacific Islanders must look after mother nature, if we upset mother nature we are killing and hurting Tangaloa, our ancestral spirit God.