Issues in the Samoan Community


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  • In essence, fa’asamoagives Samoans a sense of purpose and an identity, and it keeps their kids out of trouble. That being said…
  • Show of hands
  • Does everyone know what a canary in the coal mine is? …The child is the product of her environment. If the child isn’t thriving, it lets us know that the community isn’t either.
  • Juvy stats at the beginning were disaggregated by researchers. Systems = education, juvenile justice, the court systems.When analyzing the problems that the Samoan community encounters, it is tempting to place the blame entirely on the community itself. However, wemust address the shortcomings of external systems that handicap the ability of Samoans in our community to thrive as well.
  • Double Rock Projects in Hunter’s Point, Sunnydale Projects in Visitacion Valley – right next to each other. Generations of Samoans continue to live in low-income housing projects, in some of the most impoverished, isolated and hardest neighborhoods in the city.
  • Complacent attitude: “It’s good enough.” Not accessing the drive for something more.
  • Staying in these challenging neighborhoods  stressful environments for kids to grow up in. Who are they spending time with? Is the fa’asamoa enough to keep them safe from negative influences?
  • Issues in the Samoan Community

    1. 1. Challenges Faced by the San Francisco Samoan Community
    2. 2. Fa’asamoa: the Samoan way of life“It is at once a worldview, a way of life, a cherishedheritage, a set of structured principles for ordering sociallife, a plethora of formidable constraints upon behavior,and an ideological underpinning for strongly positiveethno-cultural identification.” Kallen, as cited in Byrne, 2005, p. viii
    3. 3. Disproportionate Contact with theJuvenile Justice SystemIn 1990, Samoan youth in San Francisco were arrested ata rate of: o 587.5 per 1000 Samoan youth o 325 per 1000 Samoan youth o 208 per 1000 Samoan youth
    4. 4. Samoan Youth Arrest Rates 1990: 575.5 per 1000 Samoan youth 2000: 261 per 1000 Samoan youth Samoan youth experience the highest arrest rates of any ethnic group in San Francisco, and the second highest in Alameda County Le, Arifuku, Louis & Krisberg, 2001; Byrne, 2005
    5. 5. The Canary in the Coal Mine What can these statistics tell us about problems within the systems and within the Samoan community?
    6. 6. Systemic ProblemsAggregation of the Asian Pacific Islander categoryLack of cultural and linguistic competencyStereotypes about SamoansThe criminalization of poverty
    7. 7. Samoan Enclaves in the City
    8. 8. Why do Samoans remain in theseenclaves? Low educational achievement Concentration of Complacency Samoans in manual labor Cultural emphasis on family Persistent intergenerational residence in low income housing
    9. 9. If Bill Gates was hanging out withthugs… Bill Gates, 1977
    10. 10. The Wilds of the Neighborhood Having many delinquent friends is one of the strongest predictors of a young person’s involvement in delinquent behavior . Social disorganization theory: the values and norms of the surrounding environment conflict with and often outweigh cultural values and norms learned from home and family life. Conflict with parents  more dependency on peer social network.
    11. 11. Youth Identity Crisis Weakened hold of cultural ties. Stressful environments and peer pressure. Repping their heritage without understanding the culture or committing to its principles. Acting like knuckleheads and making poor decisions. Troy Polamalu
    12. 12. No More 2x4’s • Disciplines with corporeal punishment 1st • Successfully transmits language and culturegeneration • Doesn’t want to/can’t use corporeal punishment 2nd • Does not pass on language and culturegeneration • Does not have structure of Samoan culture to live life by or strong sense of self 3rdgeneration • Acts out like other kids, although it’s not the Samoan way
    13. 13. Hold up…1. Should Samoans be allowed to discipline their children the way they see fit?2. What do we do about the conflict between Samoan culture and American culture?3. Is culture static?
    14. 14. Strengths of the Community The enclaves The extended family The culture and principles of the Samoan way