San Jose Poet Terisa Siagatonu Spits "Hilary Swank"

At the age of 23, Terisa Tinei Siagatonu has already established herself as a poet, spoken word artist, and arts educator. Born and rooted in the Bay Area, her emergence into the spoken word world as a queer Samoan womyn and activist has granted her the opportunities to perform on stages. This video is produced by Street Soldiers Radio.

She is also a community activist and organizer, having worked as an intern and poet-mentor for Youth Speaks, to organizing on a grassroots level with One Love Oceania, a queer Pacific Islander womyn’s organization from the Bay Area, the Samoan Community Development Center of San Francisco, EPIC of Los Angeles, and Engaging Education of UCSC. Currently she is the Project Director of PIER- the Pacific Islander Education and Retention project at UCLA.



"Hilary Swank"
By Terisa Siagatonu © 

Something tells me not to make a passion out of this.
Think twice about what I’m doing up here.
That if I’m not careful enough, I might forget…that this strip of stage that I stand on is nothing more than a wooden plank,
So if I slip
This mic at my mouth, now open, will not save me if I sink
If I get too comfortable, I may do something drastic like….tell you the truth
About what people of color actually think
And do this all…. eloquently. With class, like this university has taught me
With the kind of class that I never raise my hand in
The kind of class that I don’t come from
Careful that my volume and my anger don’t cause a forestfire in my throat,
Don’t burn easy so I’m not too brown for your discomfort
Here I stand
Weening myself off of this diet of tongue chewing and silence
Ready to pour out the eggshells from my shoes that I am so sick of walking on

Let me tell you about this here skin.

Divide our people up like farm animals and conquer like God was going to come down here Himself to John Hancock the eviction notice. Our islands…are not trading cards for your leisure, our womyn, are not artifacts in a museum for you to gawk at and imitate, these hips…will not teach you how to hula so keep your curiosity tucked underneath your breath --
This ignorance is why I have to constantly remind myself that I am not a tourist attraction to your next Island getaway

Don’t 5-star hotel our homelands just because you decided to tie the knot Whatever scraplings are left of us after you James Cooked our remains and prepackaged them for your hunger pains is all we got

Metal hooks hang from my vernacular when I spit so folks who’re 3 shades lighter than me can latch on and wash away their guilt I’m sorry….but it doesn’t work that way.

Or tell me that you know better than me cuz you read it in your intro to community studies textbook? Sweetheart, I read that book too, so you can call me Editor-in-Chief This is my life you are writing your senior thesis on

Communities of color are tired….

We are so tired of being spectacles, exotic, and your next fucking research paper topic

Justice for an oppressed people is when the oppressed people rise up with the sun and every ally falls back in solidarity. You can’t stand at the forefront of my struggle

Oakland and The Mission, are not playgrounds for your privilege, so stop gentrifying black and brown neighborhoods and putting them on the endangered species list

Stop teaching for America and start teaching for yourself. Don’t Hilary Swank me; I’ll write my own freedom by my own accord

this is not a blueprint for my confessions, Or a mode of words as weapons because I didn’t say it all before-
I’m saying it now because I’m ready.
Is the beginning to my revolutionary uprising against
Every colonized space and wounded territory in my body that has been told,
Like Samoa and the Philippines and Guam and Hawaii have been told
That these native feelings, native people do not belong
That who I am isn’t rightfully mine
This is my act of freedom against your expectations
My humanity dressed in fatigues
This is for my people
This is for me.
Because I make no more excuses myself
And this here, is my first attempt at standing up for myself Without….Any…Excuse

More information on Street Soldiers can be found at:

This article is part of the category: Poetry 
This article is part of the tags: Hillary Swank  / KMEL  / One Love Oceania  / Poetry  / Queer  / Samoan  / Spoken Word  / Street Soldiers  / Terisa Siagatonu  / Youth Speaks 


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