The Micronesian Question
by Emelihter Kihleng

For those who
Think they know
Wonder
Don’t care
Or haven’t given thought to…

WHAT IS A MICRONESIAN?
No, not a POLYNESIAN
Not a MELANESIAN
MICRONESIAN
MICRONESIAN
MICRO-NESIAN

Micro
Small
Miniscule
Invisible
Ignored
Isolated
Distant, “tiny islands”

MICRONESIANS
Migrating
Moving
Island hopping
On Continental Air Mike
Departing from our islands
Descending upon the U.S.
who gave us
permission 
back in ‘86
slowly getting noticed
across Honolulu
FOB MICRONESIANS
women wearing
colorful,
bright,
long skirts
Pink combs in long hair
Walking by the road
On The Bus
With babies
Accompanied by
other women
With babies
Dangling gold earrings
Crammed into apartments
Movin’ on up
Stereotyped
Misrepresented
Speaking “MICRONESIAN”
If you read the news
You’d think we were
Invading legal aliens

Newspaper Headlines Read:

“MICRONESIAN BILL TOO LONG OVERDUE; THE ISSUE: THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OWES HAWAII NEARLY $100 MILLION FOR SERVICES PROVIDED TO IMMIGRANTS FROM MICRONESIA”

“MICRONESIANS: THE INVISIBLE MALIHINI”

“HAWAII MAY GET HELP IN HELPING MICRONESIANS”

we are a “BURDENSOME” group
of more than 10,000
50% living below
federal poverty level,
relying “not only on educational services but on social-welfare services, health care and safety-net programs”

CAYETANO CLAIMS:

“WE SIMPLY CANNOT ABSORB THE EXTRA COSTS OF PROVIDING SOCIAL SERVICES AND MEDICAL AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE NEEDED BY SUCH POOR MIGRANTS”

Are MICRONESIANS the only “POOR MIGRANTS” coming here?

Are MICRONESIANS guilty of consuming all
food stamps

invading all
KPTs,
Mayor Wrights,
and Palolo housings

Using up all
QUEST,
WIC,
MEDICAID
and welfare on island???

I DON’T THINK SO.

So where are all these “MICRONESIANS” coming from?
Who are we?
What are we?

MICRONESIA
POLYNESIA
MELANESIA
colonial constructions
colonial creations
imaginations
configurations
divisions of Pacific Islands

MICRONESIA in the Western Pacific
between Hawaii and the Philippines
And YES, Guam, the U.S. Territory,
is located in MICRONESIA
And the people there, Chamorros,
are MICRONESIANS in denial

the term “MICRONESIAN”
Was first coined on Guam
To distinguish Guamanians from
Their non-U.S. citizen, inferior neighbors migrating to Guam
MICRONESIAN became a means to
Discriminate and target a vulnerable population

At George Washington High School
On Guam
MICRONESIANS
Are discussed on a daily basis

Those fucken MICRONESIANS

I’m not sitting by stupid Trukese

I would never go out with a fucken Trukese, I’d shoot her if she tried to kiss me

my school
segregated
MICRONESIANS in A and B wings
in the cafeteria eating free lunch
Filipinos in C and D wings
Chamorros in E and F wings
And everyone else around someplace
Chuukese, AKA Trukese
not allowed
To wear red
The school
Said that was
The Chuukese gang color

MICRONESIANS don’t identify as MICRONESIANS
We were given that identification after leaving home
Upon coming to Guam and Hawaii
Each of us unique like
Tongans,
Samoans, and
Hawaiians
Who do not merely identify as Polynesians

WE ARE:
Pohnpeians
Palauans
Chuukese
Chamorros
Kosraeans
Nauruans
Yapese
Gilbertese
Marshallese
and More

WE SAY:
Kaselehlie
Alii
Ran Annim
Hafa Adai
Lenwo
Mogethin
Yokwe

So what is a MICRONESIAN?

Can you tell me what is a MICRONESIAN?

An outside invention?
A misconception?
A location?
A population?

MICRONESIAN lacks concrete definition
An inadequate
Insufficient
Identity
Misplaced
Bestowed wrongly
Upon a large and diverse
Pacific Island population
Who are not under one flag
Who do not speak one tongue
Who do not eat the same food
And most of all who
Do not want to be recognized as one

===

Emelihter Kihleng is a Micronesian. She was born on Guam and raised in Guam, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, and Pohnpei. She is currently an M.A. student in English, Creative Writing, at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.


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