Thursday, August 12, 2010

Half-Caste Part 1

Half-caste, or afakasi, has always been a bad word in my vocabulary. Being called afakasi meant I didn't fully belong to my Samoan culture no matter how strongly I felt about it.

In college, I had a lively discussion with my friend's boyfriend about being half-caste and where we really belong. Thinking back on the conversation, I realized our thoughts differed because of the way we were brought up.

We were both born and raised in American Samoa and stayed until we graduated from high school. The difference was, I participated in family and school cultural functions and followed the traditions taught by my aunts and uncles.

My friend's boyfriend, on the other hand, was not pushed to learn or follow the traditions. I'm sure he learned along the way because you are somewhat influenced by a culture when you are surrounded by its people.

My ultimate conclusion on being afakasi is everything depends on what is in your heart. If your heart is Samoan, then it doesn't matter if you're only, biologically, half Samoan.

In today's society, especially in the United States, there are so many interracial couples and children of mixed races that the half-caste stigma is becoming less prominent.

Unfortunately, being afakasi in the Polynesian cultures, especially Tongan and Samoan, you are still looked down upon because you are not full-blooded. Well, maybe not looked down on but many times you are not fully accepted unless you are related, or you prove yourself worthy, or you speak the language.

Growing up in American Samoa, I had many experiences being afakasi and now my own children have to grow up with that type of label here in the United States. My four girls are more than afakasi because they are Tonga, Hawaiian, Japanese, German, Samoan, European, Native American. Because of this incredible mix of cultures, I am trying to teach them not only the Polynesian ways, which is the dominant culture in their lives, but also to appreciate all cultures and differences.

No comments:

Post a Comment