Saturday, January 15, 2011

One of the more beautiful phrases "I'm proud to say they are my people."

My pride in being an African American has made me appreciate the pride that other identity groups (race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, regional, etc.) have when it comes to celebrating accomplishments of their own. A story in this morning's Chicago Tribune about the city's Samoan community rallying around the three Chicago Bears players from Samoa really touched me.

This line sums it all up for me and can be applied to all of us:
"It brings tears to my eyes to know that somebody from Samoa has made it to the Bears," Nava said. "I'm proud to say they are my people."
There shouldn't be rigid guidelines about how any individual defines who "my people" are. For me "my people" include any folks I have shared common struggles/experiences with. In addition to African Americans I am proud to call so many other groups "my people."

Hell, I think that, in a way, anyone who has ever uttered the words "my people" are also "my people."

Samoan fans rally around 3 Bears

Small community of fans shows big support for players from their homeland

When she watches Bears games, Lucy Nava's eyes do not follow the player with the football. They are glued to the three Bears players from Samoa: Brandon Manumaleuna, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Matt Toeaina.

After Toeaina told an interviewer he does not wash his hair for four days before a game for good luck, Nava and her family started doing the same. And when a Samoan player on the Bears makes a good play, Nava's family does a Samoan chant in their living room, rubbing their hands together then clapping once and yelling: "Mili mili mili patia!" (which literally means "rub, rub, rub, clap").

"We claim them not just as Bears players," said Nava, 42, of north suburban Ingleside, whose maiden name is Te'o and who is related to Toeaina through marriage. "They represent my island. We embrace them as our own because the blood runs through us."

As the Bears play their first playoff game this Sunday, a small cluster of Samoans in Chicago will be watching, riveted by the prospect of players of their heritage performing well on a big stage.

Click here for entire story

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