This Month In Polynesian History – July 1966

In July of 1966, despite countries leading nuclear development (United States, Soviet Union and Great Britain) agreeing on a ban on nuclear bomb testing the government of France detonated nuclear bombs on the atoll of Moruroa.  Ancient Polynesians knew Mururoa Atoll by the ancestral name of Hiti-Tautau-Mai or Aopuni.

Pacific islander people across Polynesia had protested the testing.  The Tahitian Deputy to the French National Assembly gave passionate words in opposition to the detonation of nuclear bombs both for the danger it represented to the people of Polynesia but the damage that bombing would have on the ocean and sea animal life.

Amid bad publicity on the world stage France retreated from open atmosphere testing and began drilling shafts into the ocean floor and detonating nuclear bombs below ground in 1974.  Testing continued until 1996.

It is hard to imagine how a world so concerned with global warming and ecospheric damage would have a world power still detonating nuclear tests in the ocean all the way up to 1996.

The French Military, in their apparent rush to get testing started misspelled the atoll as “Mururoa” and seemingly as a refusal to admit any errors in the testing processes has never corrected the spelling in their documentation.

http://www.tafir.com.au/AtomicTests/frenchtests.html

 

Keepin It Island


You might have to know they are there to get to them. Set down on Sonoma street in Vallejo California “Keepin’ it Island” has been keeping the quality of their food exceptional for years. Lisa and Joe Mesa established the business in 2013 and started off just like a lot of pacific islander “cooks” do. They would cater for friends, BBQ for family events and community functions, except they were making a business out of it. Several years later they are an established eatery in the culturally diverse restaurant scene in Vallejo. They have developed into a community mainstay where customers can depend on the high level of quality from visit to visit.

PolyByDesign stopped in to sample the food in July. We stopped by unannounced and were extremely pleased to find the owners and their family present. We were there on the weekend. Many times restaurants will open and the quality of the food and service will be top notch. Then, in some cases the owners lose their excitement to serve the customer amazing food and deliver high end service. The recipes suffer. The owners stop working on the weekends etc. We stopped in on a Saturday afternoon and the family was there making sure that their brand was being represented in the right manner. The service was great. We received a greeting and a smile at the register. The worker was able to explain dishes that we had questions about and was knowledgeable of the menu. We asked if the owner was there and quickly Lisa emerged from the kitchen to greet us. We explained who we were and that we wanted to review her establishment and the food they were serving. Lisa was excited to share with us the methods that they use to prepare food, how it is cooked, where the flavors orginated in Chamorro culture and what to expect when we put it in our mouths.

We were treated to a variety of dishes. The BBQ chicken was very good. A lot of the Hawaiian BBQ places (L&L for example) “over marinate” their chicken to the point that it’s hard to actually taste the chicken. You can just get a mouthful of marinade it seems like sometimes. Not the case at Keepin’ It Island. It is a good cut of chicken breast and the marinade is not overpowering. We also had the ribs. Again, sometimes restaurants will drown the ribs in sauce and it’s hard to tell if the meat is good or not. Not the case when we were there. They do a very good job of not obliterating the dish with spice and sauce; just enough to give you the Chamorro flavor and island taste but not so much that you can’t taste what it is flavoring. We probably would have called it a day at that point and written it up as such but Lisa brought out some red rice, and some lumpia, and some Potu (a DELICIOUS rice based desert) and empanadas. Everything was delicious……..and we were absolutely stuffed with goodness.

The restaurant is the kind of restaurant that touches the community. While we were there a family came in and the father introduced his children to Lisa. He thought enough of the restaurant and the people that run it to bring his family in to meet them. His teenage daughter had a young man with her. Whether it is Guam or Samoa, a “boyfriend” will field some heat from the family and that day was no exception. PolyByDesign may or may not have joined in on the “heat” but it is possible that we did. The point is that the community is touched by Keepin’ it Island to the point that people are bringing their families in to be introduced. The food was excellent. The service was great. The price and value is top notch. One of the hardest things to do is touch the community as a retailer or restaurant. Keepin’ it Island is in touch with the community it serves. This was most DEFINITELY a Five-Hoku dining experience.

Our Future

Here are some statistics that need to be understood before a conversation on this topic can be had:

1. 88.8% of Native Hawaiians /Pacific Islanders (“NH/PI”) have attained their high school diplomas compared to 92.3% of whites. The gap widens at the achievement of a 4 year degree; 21.5% for NH/PI’s compared to 34% for whites. Then we see an even greater disparity at the graduate degree level where only 6.5% of NH/PI’s hold those degrees and the whites have doubled that rate at 13%.

2. 17.3% of us live in poverty while 10.4% of whites live in the same conditions.

3. NH/PI’s have much higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity.

4. The U.S. population grew 9.7% from 2000 to 2010 while the NH/PI population grew 35%. The portion of the NH/PI population that grew the fastest was not “pure” one island group (100% Samoan, or 100% Hawaiian etc.) it was mixed island group ethnicity (half Tongan and half Hawaiian for example).

5. Half of the total NH/PI population in the U.S. (1.2 million) lives in just two states; Hawaii (356,000) and California (286,000).
The fastest growing population of NH/PI’s was in the south.

Those five points mean that we are less likely to have any paper from a college; especially one that reads “Graduate Degree”. We are 70% more likely to live in the hood. We are more likely to drink too much, eat too much and smoke.  As a result of this we are far more likely to develop health problems. We are also “less insured” from a health insurance perspective than whites.  I don’t point out these statistics to fault white people or in a desire to see any group of people have less. Rather I see these as deficits for the Pacific Islander group to lessen and for us to achieve more.  It is important to me to stress this point.

While we are more likely to have the above challenges, as a people we are more likely to have young children at home right now and more likely to have financial hardship. We make less and essentially half of us in the United States live in two of the most expensive states in the country.

These are glaring issues for the Polynesian community that will need to be addressed on many fronts. I want to note one of them and quite possibly the most fundamental issue that sits at the core of the overall problem.

Our population is expanding quickly. From 2000 to 2010 NH/PI population grew at THREE AND A HALF TIMES the rate of the rest of the country.  22% of the overall U.S. population is under 18. In the NH/PI population the under 18 group accounts for 32% of all of our people. This group of young people and their children that come behind it are truly our future. Together, in 20 years this group could account for as much as 50% of our overall population.

The vehicle that the Polynesian community can ride out of poverty and the deficit of higher education is the next two generations. However the FUEL that this vehicle must have is education. While there is great opportunity for monumental growth as a people there is also great jeopardy. The window of opportunity for the population is small and may not present itself in this manner again. Put in plain English; we have an opportunity with the next generations that may not present itself again.  Ever.  We have to get this right.

Look at what has happened to the black community:

• In 1950, 72 percent of all black men and 81 percent of black women had been married. Now the percentages show 32% of black men are or have been married and 48% for black women.

• Every census from 1890 to 1950 showed that black labor force participation rates were higher than those of whites. Now blacks have the lowest participation rate.

• Prior to the 1960’s the unemployment rate for black 16 and 17-year olds was under 10 percent. Blacks 16-19 are now unemployed at the rate of 27%.

• Before 1960, the number of teenage pregnancies had been decreasing; both poverty and dependency were declining, and black income was rising in both absolute and relative terms to white income. Now black teenage pregnancies are the highest of any group and poverty and dependency have reached epidemic levels.

• In 1965, 76.4 percent of black children were born to married women. Today 72% of black babies are born out of wedlock.

The path of the black community has been well documented and there are events and aspects of their journey that we can, and need to, learn from.

The two pieces that our “Future” needs to be supported with is the family structure and education. The destruction of the family unit was a key piece to the direction the black community went from the late 1960’s to today. The War on Drugs was largely responsible for the removal of the black father figure.  This took away a second income, the completion of the husband / wife dynamic and the male role model from the black family. Polynesians foster a familial and community environment in the home and this can be extremely beneficial for our young adults to have grown up in. The education must be promoted at all costs. Speaking to the importance of gaining a college degree is easy to do. I went back to school at the age of 38 to finish what I had started 20 years earlier. Having the degree was far more important to me in terms of what it conveyed to my triplets than it was for me to earn more money. In fact, I don’t think I have earned any more money from a salary standpoint as a result of gaining my degree. It did speak directly to my children of how important education was to me.

We need to find the role models that have a strong sense of family, value education (formal or otherwise) and get the young generation to realize just how pivotal and key they are to our entire population. We can learn from the successes and downfalls of other people. Think about the “Baby Boomers” for a second. People born between 1946 and 1964 are the Baby Boomers. They have essentially made up one-third of the U.S. population and they have driven entire industries as they aged. Baby centric companies like Gerber were tiny until the Boomers showed up. Then baby products were a booming industry. Then the construction industry went wild for decades as schools and homes had to be built for one-third of the U.S. population. The fast food industry was born out of the need to serve food quickly to groups of people far bigger than the restaurant industry had seen before. Then the investment industry was next to ride the bubble of humanity. Insurance became the first trillion dollar industry. Now we hear far more about retirement, social security and health care because the Boomers are aging and need medicine and money for retirement.  The Boomers drove entire industries as they went through stages in their lives because of huge population bubble 

The 18 and younger group ALREADY make up one third of our Pacific Islander population in the U.S. In 20 years they may make up FIFTY percent. These amazing young people are the vehicle to transform our people. Finding positive role models and showing them examples of success is going to help them understand how powerful they can become individually and as a generation. If you are a young adult reading this, understand how you can change the world and lead the Pacific Islander population out of the deficits by simply making yourself better.  You can change the five points that are listed at the beginning of this post.  If you are an old person like me reading this, be a positive role model for the young ones in your life.  We are ALWAYS on stage. We lead by our actions whether we want to or not.  The younger generation watches what we do and how we live our lives.  Find a young person that may not look to you for leadership. Inspire them, support them, help them, and love them.  They are truly the defining generation for us and our future.

Scanlan Strong

PolyByDesign has recently been focused on identifying positive Polynesian role models and interviewing them to highlight and lift their profile within the community.  Pacific Islanders need to see the success stories and the people who are out there making a difference as a role model.  Only two months into the journey of searching and speaking to members of the Poly community we have been fortunate to have sat down and shared time with entrepreneurial young business owners, a collegiate national and olympic champion, a founder of an entire movement and true heroes of the inner city that slug it out with gritty enemies like sexual abuse and other real life issues that PI’s deal with.

In the interviews we ask the role models who they feel are role models in their own eyes and who we should talk to.  Names get thrown out and off we go to try to track down the person who was “called out” by the person we just finished interviewing.  The people being called out are role models for any different reason that you could imagine.  One call out was for a big brother that was there to pick up a young athlete and encourage her when times were hard as a youth.  Another call out was for a man who is said to have amazing stamina and ability to stay with a cause.  Another person was called out because of the time that he spends with the youth and how he coaches them in both sport and life issues.  People are called out for many different reasons.

Fresno Corrections Officer Toamalama Scanlan is every piece of positive that each of the role models we have interviewed have been said to be.  He has the coaching resume.  He has the father pedigree.  He has the big strong personna that people look up to.  He has the peaceful quite strength that has been spoken of.  He has all of the attributes that we have heard of.  Now, in his battle for his health, in relative silence he remains the positive Polynesian role model that PolyByDesign has been seeking to promote and publish to the Pacific Islander community.

There are many positive things that can, and should, be said about Malama.  He is a husband, a father, a beloved member of his community and a great man.  One of the most positive things that can be said about a person is how inspirational and empowering they can be without saying a word.  Without ever having said a word to me Malama has still touched my life.  I will buy a t-shirt to show my love for a Polynesian I have never met.  For the time I wear that shirt, on that day, I will be “Scanlan Strong”.

https://teespring.com/new-scanlan-strong

Terra Nova On Stage

Parents understand that they are always on stage with their children.  Many times the most ingrained and learned behavior is taught to children through action and not words.  When a parent thinks a child is not watching, the child sees the parent be respectful to elders.  A child sees when a parent is kind to an animal or lends a hand to friends before asked to.  Children see this because parents are always on stage.   A child sees how a parent deals with sadness through their reactions to it.  A child sees how a parent deals with anger by observing the parent be angry and work through it.  These types of learnings are not specific to parent and children scenarios.  In situations where a person or entity holds a position of power or plays a leadership role in children’s lives, the children will also learn at least as much through the actions of the people or entity than they will from the words that are spoken. The Jefferson Union School Board is in the position of power and leadership with it’s students.  Students learn through their modeling at school how “the system” can work for or against them.  They can find role models and establish life long relationships with teachers and counselors that guide them at school and beyond.  The school board had the opportunity to define itself as a model of integrity and character at the Board Meeting in Pacifica, CA on the evening of April 3rd.  Numerous incidents surrounding  Terra Nova High School Vice Principal Salie Stoner Benett brought the local Polynesian community to a boil leading up to the Board Meeting.  The Board had the type of opportunity that some schools never have.  In challenging incidents the parties involved have the opportunity to grow and move forward.  In a really bad situation, there are ways to become better because of it. The Board instead of standing tall, meeting the issue head on and reaching out to the obviously concerned community, completely missed their opportunity to move forward and steadfastly refused to address the incident that drove some 200 Pacific Islanders to attend the meeting.  Family members and community leaders took to the microphone to address the Board.  These people took time out of their busy lives to attend and speak to the Board in regards to the incident and the community’s concerns.  The Board not only refused to address the issue at hand, it refused to even answer or comment on any of the commentary offered by those that took the microphone.  Each Polynesian community member that spoke thanked the Board for their time, some blessed them and said they would pray for them, all were respectful of the Board, it’s time and the formality of the proceedings.  The Board in turn gave no words and offered only silence.  The School Board failed to take the opportunity that they had to solidify what they teach to the children (through action) and the opportunity to improve their relationship with the Polynesian community who was clearly reaching out to them at the meeting.

Nani Wilson addresses the Jefferson Union School Board

In a situation that could easily be viewed as criminal it is disturbing in many ways to hear the Board’s decision as it was announced they voted unanimously to transfer Bennett.  This lack of acknowledgement to the incident, denial or otherwise, is on it’s own an issue but what it teaches, through action, to the children is the most concerning.  The students are taught that when they engage in misconduct the entity in power (school) punishes them.  However, when the entity is accused of misconduct, the accusation is not acknowledged and the accused simply changes venues and goes to a different school.  Parents and schools are always on stage for the students and this action, teaches the wrong thing.  How can the community be confident that this behavior will stop if the Board will not even have discussions about it is the question that remains. Hopefully it is not the intention of the Board to consider the matter closed.  It would be shameful for a public entity to believe it to be ethical behavior to simply sweep a possible criminal incident under the rug.  It would be criminal to actually know the action to be unethical and still do it. Powerful moments define issues and the Polynesian community took the issue of a school administrators misconduct and very powerfully defined it to it’s own design.  The Polynesian students were taught through action that their family, loved ones and community will rally immediately and impressively to support them in moments and instances that call for it.  The Polynesian students were taught through action that they are loved and supported when they are wronged.  Most importantly the Polynesian students were taught through action that even when people in perceived positions of power are not held accountable they are not powerless.  They have voice and this voice is not done being heard.  The Pacific Islander people won their moment of adversity by taking full advantage of the opportunity to show their children (through action) love and support. They took full advantage to give voice to their deep concern over Cruze’s behavior.  The feeling of unity in the room was commented on repeatedly by people that attended.  Polynesian community organizers and leaders fully plan to see this issue through to ensure that it is ultimately handled in the correct manner.

**Correction:  The Vice Principal involved in the incident was not Ms. Cruz as originally written.  The Vice Principal was Ms. Salie Stoner Bennett.  We sincerely apologize for the error.