Brown Skin, Ronna Su’a

Papalangi:

You, with the brown skin, big eyes and thick long hair.
You are a child of the wavering seas and abundant lands.
You’re a Pacific Islander aren’t you.

Forgive me for singling you out, here let me introduce myself.
My name is western society and I just can’t help but notice how different you are from I.
And I don’t just mean your exterior surface, within you is waging wars and destined greatness. Your interior is truly one of a kind.

Please,
speak,
and let the world hear your voice, do not conform just stay true to you.

Teine:

I would be lying if I were to say I am not my skin, and any physical identity of what you may see.
For I am a daughter of the pasefika seas, my skin, my features, are all intricate parts of what makes me me.

I was born within you western society, with my islander roots instilled within me. I grew up struggling to balance two sides of who I am.
my culture,

and my identity.

I was forced to conform for all around me I saw white, but I am Samoan. I live and eat like a Samoan. Although, I reside in you, you’re right western society, I am brown.

Brown like the mats my ancestors wove, like the chop suey my mum should be famous for, like the ornaments and tools used for a saofai. I am brown like the rugby players who play at professional levels for your countries.

You see, I am brown living in a white world. But I’ve learned we compliment one another. Take away conformity, patriotism, pride and the fact I am a different colour and you’ll see who my people of the pacific truly are.

We are more than our brown skin, big eyes and thick long hair.

– Ronna Su’a 

Ronna Su’a is a Samoan Writer, born in Christchurch NZ. A previous Editor of Hyde Magazine and Student advocate for her University, her love for words has took her on a journey across many fields. She is currently in the process of completing a BA in writing and communication and lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Photo credit: Natalia Nonumalo

talanoa

Arieta Tora Rika is a writer, Pacific storyteller, and Talanoa's Founder. With over 10 years of experience in social impact and non-profit communications across Australia and the Pacific, Arieta has dedicated her career to writing for positive change in vulnerable communities. She is currently a Communications Manager for The Salvation Army's aged care services, a part-time student at Western Sydney University as she completes a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology), and a sometimes storyteller and cultural advisor for Talanoa.