Samoans join anti-racism movement in United States

A group of Samoans and American Samoans living in the United States have thrown their support behind the Black Lives Matter global protest.

They say have joined the African American community to oppose police brutality and racism. 

Merosa Pearl Uiagalelei, Anetero Uiagalelei and Abigail Ativalu are Samoans and American Samoans – who are residents of California in the U.S. – told the Samoa Observer that they sympathise with the African American community.

Ms. Ativalu says there are a lot of reasons why they have to march for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

"Marching is a form of expression. It's a way to express what is in your heart. The Black Lives Matter marches are to express what is in our heart with what is going on in the Black community," she said. 

"The Black Lives Matter marches are to express our support for our Black community. It allows us to show up for them in spaces as much as we can. The meaning behind these marches is to demand respect, love, justice, and care for Black lives."

The Samoans and American Samoans are not the only Pacific Islanders supporting the Black community, as Ms. Ativalu says islanders from other parts of the region have also expressed concern and are supporting the protests in America every day.

"One of the protests for Black Lives Matter was organized by a church I know in the Samoan community with the help of so many other Pacific Islander leaders and organizations," she added. 

"This peaceful protest was held June 4th in Anaheim and its purpose was for the Pasifika community to come together and show up for black lives. We as a community owe so much to our Black community."

Racism has been in America for hundreds of years, according to Ms. Ativalu, and has become institutionalised in the U.S. through State agencies such as the Police. But the scourge can be tackled if everyone worked together, she added.

"Racism can be stopped if we wanted it to as a whole. The issue lies in the institutions and individuals that allow racism to continue. Institutions such as the police.”

But in order to address it, Ms. Ativalu is of the view that tough conversations should be held within families, on how it should be abandoned. 

"Getting rid of racism is going to take time because of how long it has existed. But we can stop racism if we really want to. We just got to put in the work to do so. Black Lives Matter is more than a march. It's a movement!"

Ms Uiagalelei expressed similar sentiments and confirmed to the Samoa Observer that she took part in a march in solidarity with the Black community.

"I believe that I will never see true liberation until the Black community does," she said. "In alliance with the Black community my participation in the march personally was the least I felt I could do, I have the means to participate and so I showed up."

According to Ms Uiagalelei, many other Pacific islanders have participated in the march in support of the Black community. 

"It is critical that we show up for each other. Until Black lives matter all lives do not," she added. "I can’t say when racism can be stopped but I have hope that someday it will. I’ve committed my life to fight for the liberation against global racism that has displaced indigenous peoples for far too long."

For Anetero, she believes racism lies at the core of White supremacy and it will continue to thrive if everyone stayed silent.

"There are many Pacific islanders who are also marching and taking a stand in solidarity with the Black community. It is extremely important for our Pasifika people to show up and be in alliance with the Black community because all lives can't matter until theirs do," she added.

Black Lives Matter is an international human rights movement, originating from within the African-American community, which campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people. It has taken the lead in organising anti-police brutality and racism protests across the U.S. following the death 46-year-old man George Floyd who was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill.

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