Legendary entertainer and social worker, Cindy of Samoa, has spoken out to set the “record straight” in relation to comments she had made about the Samoa Observer and its coverage of Jeanine Tuivaiki’s death.
During an interview yesterday, Cindy of Samoa, said she wanted to clarify a lot of the points that had been misconstrued during the past few days. She claims that she was misquoted by GayNZ.com in a story where she blasted the Samoa Observer, adding that the comments attributed to her were not the truth.
“[GayNZ.com] is not Cindy.com, is it?” she said.
“When I got contacted by the media in New Zealand, I put something up on Facebook and said that I was being harassed by [them] on my day of rest. I declined all requests for interviews and what you can find on GayNZ.com is what they took out of my Facebook status.”
According to the entertainer, the quotes used by the website were taken out of context.
“They made up statements based on some of the things I’ve said.”
It was not possible to obtain a comment from GayNZ.com yesterday.
But Cindy criticized the role of social media in the case.
“Facebook is available to everybody. That’s one thing I was concerned about.”
She also clarified the point being debated about the deceased man’s gender. According to Cindy, the point is irrelevant. She said she was more alarmed by the Samoa Observer’s decision to publish the image.
“I wasn’t talking about a specific group [like] transgender or Pacific transgender.
“[On my Facebook status], I was talking about normal people in general or the youth in general. This involves anybody. I wasn’t mentioning gender identity or anything like that.
“For me, people only focus on one point and [therefore] they’ve actually missed the whole big picture about the whole thing.”
As a fa’afafine, she was not offended by gender reference in the article.
“I am offended by the picture [that was used in the article]. It concerns me, because I care about the young people. But identity-wise, that is a personal thing for each and every one. I am not speaking out against the transgender community, because everybody has their own identity.”
Identity she believes is an issue for individuals to decide.
“I was raised in a strict Christian Samoan family […] and I was told at a very young age how to cook [and] to be a caretaker for my grandmother and my younger brothers.
“And to the point at which my mom passed away, I became both, mother and father to my two younger brothers. That is my identity.”
Cindy also corrected comments attributed to her in relation to the Samoa Observer’s Editor-in-Chief, Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa.
“I have a lot of respect for him, because in the past, I remember [that] he was forever fighting for us people against the government and I remember one time when people burned [Samoa Observer’s] building down and they started again. I respected him so much for that.”
In a personal piece written by herself, Cindy pointed out the main parts of her criticism concerning the suicide case of last Sunday did not only affect the way it was covered by media.
“People are fighting for [the descendant’s] sexual identity, some for her right as a human being, her family and [some] were just rubbish. […] Pictures can tell about 90 percent of a story and a lot of us islanders can relate much better to pictures than to written stories.
There are lots of copycats out there today and displaying exposing pictures like this can encourage them to take the same way out. Thinking that seeing it on the local paper […] is normal and it’s a natural thing to do.”
In Cindy’s opinion, the criticism as a whole in the case was missing its point.
“I am so surprised that no parents complained about having their […] children exposed to this. I think it’s because Jeanine was a Fa’afafine that was hanging from a beam. For them, it’s just a Fa’afafine. Let me remind you, that this Fa’afafine is someone else’s child. It is Samoan. A member of a church and a member of the community, with Samoan parents and a Samoan family.”
She concluded: “[With] the simple fact that she was Fa’afafine, you all decided to turn the blind eye, make fun and in that moment you were seeking glory and fame and in your stupidity, you missed the bigger picture. […]
“The media should take accountability for some of the lives they ruined and also deserves to be braced and to be credited for the good they’ve done for the people.”