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

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Arieta Tora Rika is a Tongan-Fijian Freelance Writer, Digital Communications Specialist, and Talanoa’s Founder and Creative Director. Born in Darlinghurst in the late 80s, she spent most of her childhood in Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, and all of her teen years in Tonga. She now lives in Western Sydney with her husband Josese.