Thursday, March 20, 2008


In response to a brewing controversy over the racial attitudes of the pastor of his church, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama this week delivered a masterful address on the subject of racial divisions in America. Yet, even though American Samoa Congressional Delegate was one of his earliest and strongest backers in the face of institutional support of Hillary Clinton in American Samoa, Obama totally ignored Pacific Islanders in his speech.

Three times in his remarks Obama referred to minorities in the U.S. but each time omitted Pacific Islanders. In the first instance Obama referred to "problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all. " Referring to his pastor's church, he went on later in the speech to talk about "a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old." Finally, he talked of "schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children."

Nowhere is there any indication that he recognizes that Pacific Islanders matter, too. Hillary Clinton announced some time ago that she was appointing American Samoa Governor Togiola Tulafono as a national co-chairman of her advisory council on Asian and Pacific Americans. We have seen no similar announcement that Faleomavaega has been appointed to any role in the Obama campaign. Obama may be building coalitions, as he stated, but it is apparent that Faleomavaega need not apply for a role with a group that is not part of it.


Philip said...

How dare he!

He didn't even mention the Antarcticans, or the Bulgarians... or the Seychellians.

The nerve of some politicians. He should know better than to discriminate against the vast amounts of Pacific Islanders that were in attendance at this event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Moreover, Senator Obama has the nerve NOT to appoint Faleomavaega to a fictional post on a fictional council. Shame on him.

ABCDEFG said...

With all due respect, you are massively missing the point. No one in Antarctica, Bulgaria or the Seychelles is a super delegate or part of a delegation headed to what could be a very evenly divided convention. And no one from those aforementioned places was an early, vocal supporter of Obama or running around touting their influence with Obama.

Moreover, if you look on Obama's website, you will see that there is an "Obama Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders National Leadership Council." Take a look at the list of members and you will find not only that Faleomavaega does not serve on it, there do not appear (looking at the names) that ANY Pacific Islanders were appointed to it.

The venue of the speech is of little import. The audience was national. Had Al Gore found just 548 more Samoans in Florida in 2000 (and census figures suggest they could have been found) and taken them to the polls, he might be winding up his second term as president right now.

We know Faleomavaega would not have any influence in a McCain administration and he likely would not do much better in a Clinton administration but from the looks of it, he is marginal with Obama as well. His early endorsement should have been worth at least a spot on his paper (not fictional) national AAPI council, but it obviously wasn't.

Obama could easily have found a spot to mention Pacific Islanders at least once with Asians in his speech just as Hillary Clinton mentioned American Samoa specifically both before and after Super Tuesday when she was looking for (and got) our votes (all 2.75 of them!)

That he didn't mention them is an indication of what the Hawaii-born senator thinks of them (including Eni)--not much.