Filipino Racism


Yes, my beloved kababayans, I’m saying it. We get racist. It’s time to admit it and do something about this insidious habit.

A week after we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, a friend who runs a couple of acclaimed Filipino restaurants in New York City posted this on Facebook:

We got a phone call at work today. The pinay said she and her family had a wonderful time at Maharlika. In fact, they enjoyed everything…until she took a stroll and saw “A BLACK” cooking her food. Shes positive that she and her family is sick because the BLACK man cooked her food. I am emphasizing black because this was her emphasis. She was irate and not until she said “discount” did she lighten up. Please note we have not received any other calls regarding food sickness. We have an A WITH MINUS FOUR PTS. lemme tell u thats hard.

I wish i cld have said go fuck yourself. Its taking everything i have not to cry or yell at the woman. She was keen to point out that her husband was a doctor….and they thoroughly enjoyed maharlika. She said black four times on two different calls. Theres no mistake. Theres nothing to debate.

I hear my friend’s distress, anger, and shame. I feel the same way.  We both embrace our roots and want to preserve our ethnic identity. We’re proud to be Filipino and want nothing more than other Americans to learn about us, our food, our culture, our strengths, our contributions, our love for this country and the one we will always revisit. Sadly, our people have some traits and habits which need to be abandoned. Racism, internalized and outward, is on top of my list.

Filipino racism spawned out of three centuries of Spanish colonialism and a century of U.S. imperialism. In the Philippines, it is perpetuated by systems of class and privilege along with institutions that favor those with fairer complexions, Caucasian features, and who can speak with an American accent. It is enforced by the global quest for whiteness, thanks to our more connected world where the West still dominates. In the U.S., we imbibe racism festering in the American psyche, systems, and structures.

I see our internalized racism in our mestiza and mestizo celebrities and our gluttonous appetite for skin-whitening products. I hear our racism when our immigrant doctors and nurses accuse all Hispanics of gaming the system. I feel it when we cringe upon learning that our kumpare’s daughter has a black boyfriend. I sense it when we rally behind the white candidate in Pavlovian fashion.

While we might think that we are better than African Americans, Latinos, and even other Asians, we are not. We too are people of color. Although we love hearing how hard-working we are, never causing any trouble, how good our English is, how nice and gentle we are, the same people who utter these platitudes see our difference. That’s why they say such things.

My hope remains with Filipinos like my friend who hold up a mirror to all of us.

well imagine if a patient wanted their money back after finding out your doctor was a brown skin filipino? God forbid hes dark filipino, right?

Ive got news for you…no matter what you use to bleach your skin or how mixed the bloodline gets….your shit is part igorot….part itim. Your money, your education or your zipcode doesnt make you any better, po.

Enough. Tama na. Let’s claim the kayumanggi and celebrate our difference. By doing so are we empowered. By doing so, we claim our rightful place in this world, not the one defined for us.


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