Why Write About Being a Filipinx American?

This blog is a long overdue passion project that began with my personal racialization.

Racialization is the very complex and contradictory process through which groups come to be designated as being of a particular “race” and on that basis subjected to differential and/or unequal treatment.

For me, this process began in high school. I went to an elementary school that was predominantly made up of people of color, majority of whom were Filipinx American. So it wasn’t until high school that I was exposed to where I actually fit in the current racial system of the United States.

I went to a predominantly white high school and lost my strength and voice. I steadily began to recognize that I had been raised with different cultural values and there were too many moments when I felt other’ed for having the childhood I had. I couldn’t pinpoint why at the time. My school history classes kept hinting that racism was a thing of the past that no longer needed to be discussed. I reluctantly bought into that for a brief part of time while also holding frustration and anger over experiences that came with being one of the few people of color / Filipinx Americans in the school. To the majority of my network, including my own family, my struggles were deemed insignificant. Too often, I was dismissed for what I was feeling rather than affirmed that the myriad of emotions I felt as a minority were real. In many spaces, I felt unimportant and small.

Yet, I began to recognize moments when I felt strong in my identity even in the midst of my struggles, particularly other Filipinx Americans and Asian Americans who could relate to my identity struggles. Why couldn’t I feel that way all the time?

Awhile back, I took a trip to the Philippines that made me recognize that the United States had spent centuries creating the concept of race. In the Philippines, I looked like everyone else. What made me different than most folks around me was my nationality as an American. I was both uplifted for being American, praised for my ability to “write well” and being blessed to grow up in “a land of opportunity.” At the same time, I was belittled for my American accent and my inability to speak the language of my parents: Tagalog.

When I returned to the United States, I returned to a country that was grappling with the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and publicly re-evaluating issues of police brutality and race. As I watched and read news stories about black people dying at the hands of people who are supposed to protect us, I wondered, where do I fit into this system as a Filipinx Amerian womxn?

Living in New York City as a West Coast transplant, I find myself asking the same questions in a variety of situations.

Most recently, my friend sent me this article response to this New York Times video titled, ‘A Conversation With Asian-Americans on Race’.

Too many times, I have felt like my joys, my struggles — the complexities of my life as a Filipinx American woman have been looked over, dismissed and rendered unimportant by the systems of this country and this world. And I am tired and pissed that that is my reality.

Several weeks ago, I attended an event where other Filipinx American womxn shared parts of their narratives. Their stories as diverse and complex as their body types, skin colors, voices, accents, etcera. It’s important for us to share our stories and demonstrate that there is no single story for Filipinx Americans, just as there is no single story for any other community in this country. It’s empowering and liberating to be able to put parts of my story on a public platform.

I look forward to the dialogue this blog brings about. Please, comment your thoughts and share this blog with your friends. Dialogue is crucial for our own personal understanding of ourselves, regardless of our identity. Here’s an initial Q&A regarding the blog:

Why Filipinx?

I use the X in hopes of creating a gender neutral blog space that welcomes all genders of Filipinx folks. Note, that many of my posts may be written from a feminine perspective given my cis-gender identity as a female. I kept the F instead of the P for alliteration purposes despite the fact that “F” did not exist in the native script of the Philippines (known as baybayin)—long before Spanish influence and rule. I plan to use F and PH interchangeably in my writing as a means to decolonization.

Why Formation?

Honestly, the title is inspired from Beyonce’s song, Formation. I recognized that like Beyonce, my upbringing and unique set of experiences are all part of an on-going process: a formation. I am dynamic and ever-changing and I hope this blog is a testament to my personal learning and unlearning and most of all my becoming.

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