I was called a "filthy Filipino" once.
It was in middle school. A classmate and I had gotten into a little tiff - I can't recall what it was about - but when she said those words, they stabbed me like a million little knives. I was shocked, then mad, and then disheartened, especially when, during dinner that evening, I told my mother about the incident and we were both unable to hold back tears.
A few days ago, Derek Valencia, a resident of American Canyon, CA, posted a photo of a hateful letter on Facebook. The letter, supposedly from the California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Barbering & Cosmetology, is addressed to fellow American Canyon resident Maria Aida Ignacio Brandes. At first, it discusses Ms. Brandes' alleged unlawful practice of cosmetology, but later it veers into a tirade against the "Filipino scum" in American Canyon:
"In addition, the American Canyon Filipino community as filthy as it is. [Illegible] unwanted as it is...... doesn't need to bring additional unwarranted/unlicensed practices which assists in bringing down the already downward spiraling property values in our area.
"We are attempting to have our community a law abiding one, without having yet another gang of Filipino scum such as yourself and married daughters who have attempted to assimilate into this once clean non-Filipino dominated area in American Canyon (Napa Junction) which includes those of your female offspring who have aligned themselves with CAUCASION husbands to assist in ensuring their half-breed children have "straight noses" in order to be accepted in non-Filipino society."
When I read about this incident last night, I was just plain confused. I thought, "Is this real?" My astonishment was not regarding the authenticity of the letter as it is clearly not an official letter from the California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Barbering & Cosmetology, but I wondered again, as I did in middle school, why someone would go out of his or her way to target an entire community with such vile and hurtful words. I again pondered how I was at all "filthy."
Sadly, this letter is real in that it is full of real hate.
We must not let the Filipino American community of American Canyon stand alone. As Filipino Americans, Asian Americans and, simply, Americans, we must not be idle and complacent. We cannot allow this blatant act of racism to go unnoticed and unpunished. We must "work together, locally and nationally, to help bring justice to this issue."
Take a stand against hate. Sign UniPro's petition against the recent hate crime in American Canyon, a small step against the deep-seated racism in this country that many Americans face every day.
Photo credit: The Huffington Post