Sefa Aina Says "The Narrative Doesn't Start With Christopher Columbus"

At UC Berkeley's Mua O Conference organized by Pacific Islanders at Cal(PAC), Sefa Aina talks to young Pacific Islanders about the importance of their narratives in America as Pacific Islanders.


Sefa Aina was appointed by President Obama to the White House Advisory Commission. At the Mua O Conference at UC Berkeley he talks to young Pacific Islanders about the importance of their narratives. Also bringing up a pivotal moment for him in college when Hawaiian sovereignty activist Haunani Trask came to teach.

She(Haunani Trask) asked us "How many of you been to Hawaii? People in the class said, "I've been to Hawaii, I've been to Hawaii. And her reply was.... "Do us a favor and don't come back!." And it took me aback. It took me back cause' I was like, wow that's not Aloha spirit. Why is she like that? Thats messed up. And then I started to learn about Hawaiian displacement, about Hawaiian homelessness, about how those beaches in Waikiki used to belong to Hawaiin people, how they've lost everything s that people can come there and vacation like the many people who raised their hand when Haunani Trask asked who've been to Hawaii?"

Mua ō is a higher education conference that started in 2008 in response to the disproportionate number of Pacific Islanders pursuing a higher education. This year, the conference will bring light to different issues in the Pacific Islander community such as immigration, civic engagement, queer issues, womyn’s rights, gender, Pacific Islanders in higher education, etc. Our hope is to create a space where we can merge the importance of higher education and social justice as it relates to the Pacific Islander community.

Sefa Aina is the Director of the Asian American Resource Center (AARC) at Pomona College. Prior to coming to Pomona, Mr. Aina worked at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center as a counselor, organizational advisor and instructor. He’s also a founding member of Pacific Islander Education and Retention (PIER), which does tutoring and mentoring for Pacific Islander youth in the Carson, Long Beach and Inglewood areas of Los Angeles. He’s a founding member of the National Pacific Islander Educators Network (NPIEN) and Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC). Mr. Aina graduated from UCLA with a BA in History and is currently starting the Masters program in Asian American Studies also at UCLA.

About Jean Melesaine

Jean Melesaine is a queer Samoan community activist, documentary photographer and editor with Silicon Valley De-Bug. 

This article is part of the category: Community 
This article is part of the tags: Chamorro  / Haunan Trask  / Hawaii  / Jean Melesaine  / Marshalese  / Mua O Conference  / PAC  / Pacific Islanders  / Pacific Islanders At Cal  / Samoan  / Sefa Aina  / Tongan  / UC Berkeley 


This is deeply inspiring, i watched it to the end. There are alot of lessons for people of all cultures to join and educate together to build for the future.

Sefa Aina’s knowledge of the power of narrative and it’s effects on the human mind is parallel to that of Father Joe Brieghner, a Catholic Priest in Baltimore, MD (take a look at Father Joe in the interview found here: ). This idea that looking at the way we behave based on how we are perceived, both by ourselves and the outside world, is essential in changing our negative behaviors to better our own mental health and essentially the world around us.

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