Addressing Anti-Blackness in the Filipinx Community

I want to be very transparent in this article because it’s important to recognize and be aware of the anti-Blackness that is so deeply rooted within my Filipinx culture. It’s important to be aware because it means that you become knowledgeable about the systemic racism that affects the Black community, who unwillingly built this country on their backs. Even though they did, they do not benefit in the same way that many Asian minorities, such as myself, do.

As a child, I was taught that Black people were thugs, that we were allowed to call them that because they were “ghetto”, and that statistics showed they committed crimes. I grew up thinking I had to clutch my bag tighter if I walked by a Black person on the sidewalk. I grew up thinking it was okay to say the “N” word because I was from the Bay Area and somehow, that gave me a pass to assimilate myself into Black culture, while being anti-black all at the same time. I was taught to take aspects of Black culture, shame Black people for it, but praise others if they were to adapt those aspects and call it “Urban”. I was taught all of these things not from school, not from the news, but from my family.

sign saying fight today for a better tomorrowMy family was ignorant and believed what the news and media said about Black people. This was due to a deeply rooted belief within the Filipinx culture that Black equates to ugly, dirty, ghetto, etc. So in turn, Filipinx products that were made to whiten your skin became very popular. Thus, I was born into a culture that already deemed just the mere black color or even dark brown, as ugly. However, it wasn’t until I got to high school that I realized that those teachings added even more gasoline to the fire. I’m ashamed of recognizing it late, but what I can do now is acknowledge that part of my upbringing and normalize the fact that racism is wrong. From here on out, I have to dedicate myself to ensuring that Black Lives Matter within the Filipinx community. That is my obligation as a fellow Person of Color. I need to recognize that it’s racism, point blank. And if you do not realize that upbringing as wrong, then you fail to understand your mistakes as an ally. And more importantly, you fail to see that for a very long time, even before a lot of us were born, we have lived and benefited from a system that hates Black people.

I want to acknowledge that it’s so incredibly necessary for all of us Filipinx-Americans to recognize ​why​ we think that way about Black people. We need to think about ​why ​we thought it was okay for us to assume that just because we’re Filipinx-​American​, we get a pass to partake in the things that deem Black people as an inferior Race, when they’re not! We can’t erase the history that so readily taught us to be anti-Black! Instead, we have to recognize it and question it. We have to have those difficult conversations with our family members. We have to break that chain of being racist because it’s not just about White vs. Black anymore, it’s about Everyone versus Racism.

BLM Peaceful Protesters, holding signsThe other day, I had chosen to educate a family member of mine about why it’s not okay to reduce the current protests to ​just​ looting because they had said, “Yes Black Lives Matter, but violence is not the answer.” They failed to see the point I was making, even after I confronted her in a way that was educational, rather than canceling her as a person. I knew that confronting my family member was a choice that would have repercussions for my family, perhaps resulting in broken relationships. However, I also knew that if I were to instead be ignorant and NOT say anything, then I am regressing and choosing to not use my privilege to stand with the Black community. Although I am saddened that they chose to be ignorant and not realize the bigger picture, I am still proud I decided to not let family ties keep me from being an ally. That's something that I think many of us can learn from. Since family is such a huge value within Filipinx culture, it’s kept a lot of us from speaking about these issues to our family members, in fear of ruining the family dynamic. Even so, it’s important for us to speak up to those who contribute to anti-Blackness within our culture. If anything, our family values should push us to take a stand for the Black community.

Do not be scared to recognize and educate the Filipinxs within our community that have failed to see anti-Blackness in our culture. The media is still trying to perpetuate the riots for justice as simply violent looting. By stressing importance of businesses, you fail to stress the importance of Black Lives. You can replace things, but you cannot replace Black lives. More than ever, we have to stand in solidarity with the Black community to ensure they no longer have to die for such a broken system to exist.