John Oliver, CNN Opinion, The New York Times, all have done recent pieces about the US territory of American Samoa, regarding a case before the US Supreme Court, on how it would be racist not to give Samoans automatic United States citizenship. When John Oliver delivered his funny and scathing commentary on the subject it went viral, six million views on YouTube—that’s more views than there are Samoans in the world. And when CNN and then The New York Times delivered similar responses online, I thought, if only they and John Oliver had a telephone in the building, they could have called Governor Lolo Letalu Matalasi Moliga in Pago Pago and asked, “Lolo! You can’t be against automatic U.S. citizenship?” Well he was and we are, but it’s a long story, requiring research. We have the voice of a moth. The “mainland” is a virtual hurricane.
Stein called it “patriarchal poetry,” the kind of poetry that is repeated again and again until it becomes the only kind of poetry recognized as poetry, louder and louder it’s not an echo it’s a rhythm, a Cartesian storm, space itself.
Guest post from Dan Taulapapa McMullin at the Poetry Foundation blog! Love!!
In a statement yesterday afternoon, the governor said he is pleased with the court’s decision, saying that this preserves individual rights of the people of American Samoa to make a personal decision on whether to become a US citizen or remain a US national.
“…this is the central thought which prompted the American Samoa Government’s intervention,” said Lolo adding that “becoming a US citizen was secondary to the need to preserve individual rights to freely determine to become a US citizen or remain a US national.”
Lolo stressed that American Samoans are not prohibited by law to become US citizens if they so choose and suggested that those who feel they are being discriminated against because of the US National designation on their passport “should become US citizens.”
The governor was also pleased with the decision because it gave “American Samoa the “latitude to determine for itself the political relationship it wishes to establish with the United States government.”
If the Supreme Court’s ruling imposed an automatic US citizenship on all persons born in American Samoa, Lolo says it “would have created political complications with a devastating impact on our land tenure system and usurpation of our rights to determine the political format we wish to adopt.”
Ahhhh. Independence and colonialism. I appreciate the governor’s position: “the latitude [for ‘American’/Eastern Samoa] to determine for itself the political relationship it wishes to establish with the United States government.” Democracy!
I was just talking with my Introduction to Women and Gender Studies students about McMullin’s work, this new poem and his amazing essay “Fa’afafine Notes: On Tagaloa, Jesus, and Nafanua,” which is somehow (?!) the only Samoan academic piece on fa’afafine identity I’ve even been able to find . . . it’s always outsiders writing about Pacific culture: funny how some voices keep trying to dominate, huh?