Owning Up to Anti-Blackness

From "Your Asian Isn't Quiet"

Photo from “Your Asian Isn’t Quiet”

Recently, my black co-worker called me out for making a racist remark. It was a moment of restorative justice for both of us.

Having been someone who has encountered white fragility far more times than I’d like, I knew this was a moment to practice what I preach by owning up to my shortcomings. The few moments in my life when I’ve had the courage to call out present-day subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) racism, I was met with defensiveness and excuses, which led to greater frustration and pain for me.

Remembering my own frustration with well-intentioned white folks, I reminded myself that the best way to respond to when someone calls you a racist is to listen. Because you probably did do something racist and the right thing to do is learn how to do better next time. Because not everyone will always be so willing to walk you through your racist shortcomings. Continue reading

The Day After Election Day 2016

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Today, the day after Election Day 2016 (one of the heaviest days of my life, I experienced the most genuine human interaction with strangers since I moved here over a year ago.

As I walked through Bed-Stuy to the subway (and really all day), I noticed that everyone was looking at everyone. When I first moved to the city, I developed a habit of greeting people because acknowledging people is important to fostering community. Unfortunately, gentrification is slowly shifting that culture. After the winter, I grew cold and my willingness to open up and acknowledge people decreased out of fear. Many experiences of cat calling and being followed made me wary of who I talk to. So I grew accustomed to having few daily human interactions despite constantly being surrounded by people.

Today, everyone was glancing at folks around them, as if to determine one’s political leanings from their eye contact. I noticed that most folks of color greeted me with assuring smiles and hellos, while most white folks kept their heads down as they blasted music or kept their nose in a book. Granted, this discrepancy is usually how my encounters are but today, folks seemed to be intentionally making efforts to acknowledge each other. Continue reading

Making Sense of Present-Day Philippine Politics

Barely four months into his term, the new Philippine president, Duterte is making moves and shaking the world’s political landscape.

Duterte has become a tricky subject of conversation among my Filipinx family and peers here in the United States and with my family in the Philippines. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with articles about his sexist remarks and the Philippines’ recent suspicious drug-related extrajudicial killings (which are viewed by many as a consequence of his administration’s war on drugs).

I quickly dismissed him as a Trump-like character, doomed to bring the Philippines into a deeper level of corruption. It’s easy to do so. I’m miles away from my family’s homeland, this new president, his administration, and these killings. The majority of information I receive on his presidency is from the mixed perspectives of family members and U.S. and Philippine media, a majority of which, paint Duterte as a villainous threat to the current state of our world.

And when I heard about his move to break ties with the U.S., it was easy to dismiss him as crazy and a threat to the “peace” between the United States and the Philippines. Continue reading

Rebellion: An Innate Reaction to Being a Child of Immigrants

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Last week on the subway, Zadie Smith’s novel, “White Teeth” sent me on a half hour writing reflection frenzy of whether or not I’m inherently rebellious. Note, I mention character development details so spoiler alert for the paragraphs ahead!  Continue reading

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