I often try to think back to when I first started as a Chamorro activist.
My father says it is tied to experiences I had in South Africa, when our family lived in Swaziland for two years and apartheid was still in effect.
My mother says it is tied to racist experiences I had while living in California in predominantly white agricultural areas.
If you ask people I went to school with, they would tie it to my artist background, where my clothes were always covered with paint and I once went so far as to paint my body in protest of programs being shut down at UOG.
I remember the first protests I participated in, one of which was held at the front gate of Navy Base Guam, in response to the culling of karabao by snipers.
I remember the first letters to the editor I sent off to the Pacific Daily News about decolonization.
I remember the first time I spoke out publicly about colonization, it was a presentation at Agana Shopping Center about whether or not Liberation Day was really a liberation. After my presentation, I was accosted by a former Marine who threatened to break my face for my comments.
I remember the first argument I had with family members over political status and the possibilities for Guam’s future.
I remember the first time I got death threats through my blog No Rest for the Awake – Minagahet Chamorro. It was a from a military serviceman who didn’t like my rhetoric and emailed his anger and included the address from where my mother, step-father and siblings lived in California.
But prior to all of this, I remember sitting through countless meetings with activists from different groups, some of whom have passed on or left the movement for Chamorro rights. I would sit through Nasion Chamoru meetings. Colonized Chamoru Coalition meetings. Meetings of the Commission on Decolonization where there was no quorum and people would just talk. I didn’t talk much in these meetings, I mainly just wrote things down and listened. The meetings were mainly in Chamorro, which I loved because in those days I was still learning the language, and it constantly pushed me.
Part of what pushed me into the realm of being an explicit activist was when I left island in 2003 to apply for Ph.D. program in the US. When I was in Guam, I was constantly following others, interviewing them, learning from them. But once I was disconnected, living gi sanlagu, there was a shift. I hungered for that type of interaction and engagement, but I couldn’t find it amongst the Chamorro diaspora at the time. I used the internet as an outlet, starting websites and zines that all dealt with issues of Chamorro rights, decolonization and demilitarization.
Ti siguru yu’ ginen manu na hu chule’ este na kilu’us, lao esta hagas chechetton gui’ gi apaga-hu. Para bai hu sungon ha’ este estaki i finatai-hu.