Samoan Dance Brings Healing to Violence-Prone SF Community

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Pelenise Faataui, a native of San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood, recently began teaching Polynesian dance to friends and neighbors in the area. The daughter of one of the first Samoans to settle in the largely African American community, Faataui has seen her share of violence, having lost a 14-year-old brother and several relatives to gang-related shootings. Her dance, she says, brings a sense of community and culture to residents struggling to cope with the violence plaguing their neighborhood. For now classes are held in front of her house in the West Point housing projects, despite the very real danger of catching a stray bullet. Faataui says she has begun reaching out to local community centers in the hopes of finding a safer place to continue her work.



Jean Melesaine is a native of San Francisco and grew up in Hunters Point. She is a writer and videographer with Silicon Valley DeBug, a project of New America Media. Her work focuses on the issues and concerns of the Pacific Islander community.