Sunday, May 15, 2016

Setbisio Para i Publiko #30: Two Quotes for the Future

The two images are flyers featuring quotes from the political status debates I hold in my Guam History classes. 

Students are divided into Statehood, Independence and Free Association groups and develop their arguments for which status is better and also produce posters, brochures, flyers, stickers and sometimes even food to help make their points. 

The first is a quote from Maga'låhi Hurao, who in 1671 became the first Chamorro leader to organize large scale opposition to the Spanish presence on Guam, is regularly used by students arguing in favor of Independence. In Chamorro I have seen that line translated as "Metgotña hit ki ta hasso" as well as "Megotña hit ki ta hongge." Given that many peoples' resistance to the notion of Guam becoming independent is tied to generations of feeling like we are inadequate or subordinate to those who have colonized us, this simple notion can be very powerful in start the process of self-empowerment.

Nihi ta hassuyi Si Maga'låhi Hurao yan i sinangån-ña gi todu i bidadå-ta guini gi islå-ta, ko'lo'lo'ña anai ta fanimahina mo'na put håfa siña para i taotao-ta anggen ta fanmadecolonize. 

The second quote is closely connected to the first. It comes from the African American novelist Alice Walker. The class that used this quote was very interesting, as the group advocating independence had actually gotten ahold of my dissertation from UCSD and seen that I had used this quote as my epigram. 

One of the students had questioned me as to why this? Why not something more closely directed to Guam and more explicitly about political status. 

My response was that imagining we are more powerful than we think, necessarily requires imagining that someone or something else, which has taught and convinced us that we are inferior is not all-knowing or all-powerful. I have articulated this theoretical point in a variety of ways over the years, once for example as Chamorros needing to engage in "future fighting" and later in one of my first published articles titled "Their, Our Sea of Islands: Epeli Hau'ofa and Frantz Fanon."

Coming to believe in yourself, means breaking the various mental chains that you have accepted as being natural for so long, and as a result takes the power out of another's hands and potentially places it in your own. 

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