4 Reasons Why Filipinas/os Should Support Black Lives Matter

I have been struggling the past few days. Here, I’ve put my words down again to implore my community to join in solidarity and support the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

4. Anti-Black racism has plagued our community.

As a young darker-skinned Filipina, I was often taunted as “Black Beauty” and told never to go under the sun so that I wouldn’t get darker. What that meant was dark = not good, black = bad. My grandfather always warned me about watching the show, Martin, and having Black friends because they were no good. Instead of seeing the commonalities between our communities, our elders and families have bought into the American racial order before they even got to the US. They swallowed the pill that white was good and Black was bad. Colorism is just a small part of the consequences of this type of internalized racism.

Much more toxic is our rejection of mixed race Filipinos/as in our community. Much more dangerous is that Filipinos/as think that our histories are completely separate and that the consequences of anti-Black racism can not touch Filipinos/as. But it does. Everyday it does. White supremacy recasts Black and Brown bodies (I consider Filipinos/as as Brown) as lesser than white, in very different and relative ways. But my point is that we will never be assimilated into whiteness. And as long as we continue to front like we can be white by rejecting Blackness, we are part of the problem.

3. Black and Filipino solidarity is historical.

David Fagen deserted the American imperialist forces to join the Filipino independence forces at the turn of the 20th century. One journalist stated, “the negro soldiers were in closer sympathy with the aims of the native population than they were with those of their white leaders and the policy of the United States.” Filipinos were openly called the n-word and caricatured as “little brown brothers”. Well, it was Black people who stood up for us against US empire. It was Black soldiers that took up our mantle, put it on their backs and fought for our freedom. Our liberation was bound together then, and it is even more so now.

david fagen

2. US empire in the Philippines relied on anti-Black racism at home.

The encroachment of US empire in the Philippines was imbued with anti-Black racism. Imperialist cartoons show Filipinos as dark skinned savages in need of saving. This was set in the backdrop of increasing racial repression against Black people in the US via Jim Crow laws and segregation, not to mention continuing settler colonialism and cultural genocide of indigenous people in the US. The American colonial project got its fire from the racialized oppression of Black people. It gave them moral logic and the state-sanctioned practices to go abroad and subjugate Filipinos. Caricatured and racialized as Black people in SE Asia, Filipinos were made to swallow this racial ideology even before we were being exported for profit.

FilipinosFirstBath

It’s about damn time that we reject these two interlinked racial ideologies. And its about time that we step up to acknowledge that both are not the same in egregiousness but they work together to divide and subjugate

1. It is the right thing to do.

In the past 3 days, two men (and perhaps more (men, women, trans people) who are under the media radar), Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were murdered by police officers. Sadly, they were not the first nor the last Black people whose lives will be taken by police. These men were complying. These men were simply living their lives. They were doing nothing that deserved death. Their humanity was sacrificed in the name of institutionalized racism, the internalization of Black criminality and acceptance of Black death by police officers.

Filipinos/as cannot stand by while Black people and the Black community are clamoring for a stop to these killings; this crisis in human rights violations. Our community has been fed the idea that if we work hard enough, we could buy into the institution of whiteness. Well guess what, y’all? We can’t. We  will never be part of that institution. So if you are standing still, silent and inactive during this epidemic of Black death by police, then you are finishing the project of white supremacy. You are holding up white supremacy.

Instead of being silent because its not happening to the Filipino community, we have to gather our resources, our organizing experience and join in the national and international movement to value Black lives by holding police accountable and demanding a STOP to the killings. We must challenge white supremacy as it continues its centuries-long reign and attack on Black lives.

We have to stand on the right side of history here, ya’ll. We can not be silent. We must act with and under the leadership of Black people. Its the right thing to do. Its the only thing to do.

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10 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why Filipinas/os Should Support Black Lives Matter

  1. This was very well written. The sad fact of the matter is I have many friends in the filipino community and I have heard these things from their parents. What happens if they were succeed in getting rid of the black (god forbid), keep in mind you are still not white, they would then turn their guns on hispanic/latinos, asians and everyone else that is not white.
    it’s 2016 and we are still having to deal with this in our society, it’s sickening.

  2. Reynaldo T Novicio says:

    thank you so much for writing this because it is needed. i will sure to spread it widely.

    salamat!

    –rey

  3. io media says:

    We should be grateful to anyone who helped us progress with education, religion, law and order to improve our minds and souls and economy! Credit to white Americans, Spanish and Canadians for their helping us become better people and as a nation. Not sure what black people did to help us progress? We think, speak, write in English so thanks to England for founding this international language. Other brown people and black peoples, not only Filipinas/os, around the world also improved economically and educationally thanks to white people. Race relations linked to crimes and wars are from evil criminals viewpoints and greedy invaders but seriously most of the world is at peace if people are good and law abiding, only criminals clash with police whatever colour and race. Some white, brown and black interracial marriages exist and jobs and businesses are available that there is no need to take revenge on white people, usually our employers being the builders of Canada and America. So let us be grateful to the white race for allowing us to this continent!

    • V. says:

      io media,

      Your remarks are not only inaccurate but they are also condescending of the contributions of people of color to the US and of people of color all over the world.

      First, the “white race” did not allow us to this continent. There were/are native Americans, indigenous peoples and First Nations on this continent WAY BEFORE the “white race”–and I think you mean the colonial Europeans–came here. Pick up any history book (but in particular, you may want to take a look at the “People’s History of the United States by Zinn or “The Indigenous People’s History of the United States” by Dunbar-Ortiz) and it will tell you that who you know as “white” folks now were “illegal” immigrants in the early 17th century.

      Second and so much more importantly, enforced African peoples who were enslaved basically built the infrastructure and economy of the US. So what did Black people do to help us or the US progress? THEY BUILT THIS COUNTRY while white European settler colonists murdered, raped, tortured and enslaved them.

      I am not grateful for any of that history. Nor will I ever be. I am also not grateful that the US imperialist occupation in the Philippines since the turn of the 19th century has created a puppet government that has exported millions of Filipinos from the Philippines separating us from our country and families.

      • A Filipino says:

        Excuse me, “exported millions of Filipinos from the Philippines separating us from our country and families”? If you still blame American colonialism as the reason the Philippines is in decline, you’re in denial. It’s been three centuries since those times, and the Philippines gained official independence from the U.S. in 1946. If you really want to talk about history, why does nobody blame the Spanish who colonized the Philippines for, I don’t know, 300 years? The Filipinos begged the Americans to fight the Spanish, and that’s what the Americans did. A few years later, the Filipinos don’t want the Americans there (although we do like the spending power). Then when World War II happened, it was the Americans who liberated the Philippines, or did you forget the atrocities committed under the Japanese?

        On top of that, the Philippines is one of the oldest countries in the world. it’s had literally centuries upon centuries to develop its country, and never once has its people ever come close to being totally annihilated. Japan was flattened and had 2 nukes dropped on them, Germany was utterly ruined as a major player in two world wars (which it lost), and China’s been in the can for as long as anyone can remember until they got their act together during the Cold War.

        Is the Filipino government corrupt? Of course it is, that’s what happens when you hand over extreme power and wealth to an unprepared people who always choose the wrong leaders time and time again (Marcos, Aquino, etc.). It’s no wonder many Filipinos choose to get away from the Philippines through any means necessary, the country’s a mess. The country failed because it’s people in power couldn’t work together, and all the good citizens would rather emigrate to another country than try to untangle the mess that is the Filipino government.

        TL;DR, the Philippines is a mess. It’s blindly proud people hide behind the scapegoat of American Imperialism more than 60 years after it’s been independent. What is it going to take for Filipinos to take responsibility and actually work together instead of steal and cheat? Your statement, “Exported millions of Filipinos” can bite my ass, the smart ones emigrated off those islands a LONG time ago.

  4. Maggie Montero says:

    As a black-Filipino American I thank you.

  5. Dante says:

    Leaving in this country for 30 years I quickly realized that my existence including that of my family would have to be separate from the white status quo.being Asian and colored , I will forever be the FOB and the one who came here because he is poor.

  6. Jay says:

    Thank you so much for this important piece. As a Black woman, I am ready to work together with all communities of color (including my own) and we need your help, so thank you for taking this crucial step.

    Salamat.

  7. Daniel Paul C. Uy says:

    Thank you very much for the wonderful insight. I agree that society’s view and ideology can only be fixed by the change that we individuals first take in our mindsets and views so that we as a community can see things clearly without bias

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