top of page
  • Tarifa Laban

This identity. My identity. What’s an identity again?

Words by Tarifa Laban (she/her)

I’ve always struggled with what box to tick on forms that only give you one option for

your ethnicity.

It begs me to consider: well, am I Samoan, or am I European?

I’ve ticked the latter more often.

(Something I am ashamed of).

I’m not really too sure why I automatically put myself into that bracket.

I think I’m afraid that if you were to see me in person, after I had ticked Samoan, you

may think I’ve made a mistake.

My identity crisis.

I sit in rooms, the only brown face, and pretend like I don’t really have a care for my

culture. Meanwhile, I cringe inside as jokes with racist connotations become normalised.

I admire the ones more in touch with their Pacific Island cultures and wish I had a completely different reality.

A reality where I didn’t feel like I had to be one way around my Polynesian friends,

and another way around my palangi friends.

There’s probably other people out there who live this double life like me. Who don’t

know which bracket they fit into, or what box to tick on the form.

Our identity crisis.

I want you to know that I’m trying to find a place to fit.

I don’t speak Samoan, but I yearn to.

I can’t dance like my ancestors, but I could (I think).

I’m not knowledgeable about my family tree, but it lives in me. I can feel them. I

look like them. It’s where my melanin is from.

I look brown. But am I? Am I a true Samoan?

Whether I am or not, I’m still called a coconut, and then I’m also called an Oreo.

The worst one is when I’m called plastic.


Like something that’s fake?

I don’t want you to think I’m plastic.

How do you even define that word?

Why have I become your definition?

Your identity crisis.

I’m the token brown girl in your posters, your leadership team, your academic

prizegiving, your advertisements, your, your, your…

But sometimes I’m not.

Sometimes you leave me out because you don’t understand me. Or maybe I leave

myself out because I don’t understand me too.

Maybe I am plastic. But that would imply that I’m fake. I’m not fake. I’m trying.

My identity crisis.

Everyone has their own story.

Maybe we are all similar in one way or another.

Maybe we’re all just trying to understand the complexities of being human.

The complexities of our identities.

What’s an identity again?


bottom of page