Wednesday, November 16, 2016


When a West Virginia officer posted a Facebook shoutout equating outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama to an "ape in heels" then affirmed by a mayor from the same state, many felt that they were only verbalizing what so many have felt about the first Black couple to occupy that hallowed residence in Pennsylvania Avenue.

No, it has got nothing to do with the quality of performance, the level of class and the seemingly impeccable reputation the Obamas exhibited during their eight year stint in the White House.  It still boiled down to the color of the skin, the seemingly unacceptable fact for a certain sector of the American population that a person of color and his family became the premiere symbols of their country.

Regardless of how good they were as examples of American values of social involvement and congeniality, they will never be enough inasmuch as the mere thought of a female president of the United States sent shivers down the spines of closet or blatant misogynists.

Since the election of Mr Trump as the next president of what has been branded as the cradle of the Free World, the strongest (if not the greatest) country on the planet (or so they claim), many disturbing changes have emerged. 

Because of his fiery campaign, his election was like a license was given or an affirmation was made public.  Latent racists were assured that it was okay to express how one feels about the different neighbors in the well-manicured white bread lanes.  It may not necessarily involve people they know --- but just people who occupy spaces which Americans feel belong to them and have been usurped or abused by the excesses of liberalism. 

All these years of uncontrolled liberalism were apparently tolerated but not completely understood or even imbibed. 

The point is that if someone occupying a government position such as the lady in West Virginia can have the gall to be happy that her equally White Friend called the First Lady a fashionable simian seems to just all too much with just too little.  Yes, there is that so-called "White-lash", when the greater number of voting white males in the Rust Belt of America decided that they had enough of people of color ruling the country. Worse, they felt violated, insulted and even castrated that people of even more colors were robbing  them of their jobs and opportunities for advancements in their own White Country.

What is truly scary is that this newly revived surge of racism cuts across every person of color in the U.S.  You may be Black or a Mexican or an Asian or from the Middle East ... and you are a candidate for racial bashing or (as in the case of Muslims) religious discrimination. There seems to be a reinterpretation of the words "Home of the Brave, Land of the Free" as to only include the Whites who have felt disenfranchisement because of the influx of immigrants creeping into the sanctuary of their communities.

Suddenly the white man felt like he was a stranger in his own country when his neighborhood --- nay, even the bastion of his government --- was now being peopled by a rainbow of other races forming the New Establishment.

The fear is understandable but the rudeness and inhumanity of discrimination are unforgivable.  Any form of discrimination is intolerable for that matter.

I have had a first hand experience of racism literally decades ago when I did my post graduate studies in an esteemed university in the Midwest.

Living in the graduate school dorm is like residing in the mess hall of the United Nations wherein all possible races, religions and skin colors blended together as we lined up in the cafeteria for our meals or spent hours in the common halls for our study groups.  Inside the university there was a sanctuary of mutual respect and tolerance.  The perfect world created by a University town made one feel safe and accepted.

Yes, the Filipinos formed our own little adobo club when we gathered together to eat pancit, lumpiang shanghai and, of course, adobo.  But we also had other friends from various continents sharing precious time and learning things from one another that went far beyond what was taught in the classroom.

But there was also an entirely different world out there where certain locals could be very vocal about what they thought of the students who had to co-exist with them in the university town.  I was carefully forewarned by both my Filipino and foreign friends about what to expect when racist comments or even aggressive behavior is hurled at my direction.  I was told to be cool about it ... and only answer back when provocation has reached the level of the uncontrollable. 

 My Nigerian classmate even told me, "Just go into a sudden Kung Fu battle pose.  These whites think all you Asians know karate and kung fu."  OK, enough for racial stereotyping.  

Yet you will never know how it feels until you feel it. There is nothing like a first hand experience of being insulted and humiliated because you are different.

 You never realize how completely shocking and demeaning it is when you are quietly walking down a road and a car passes by, its passengers opening the window with heads sticking out shouting, "You go back home, you fucking Chink!" 

Or when you are in a department store and the saleslady deliberately ignores you because she refuses to serve you and goes straight to a Caucasian customer as if you do not exist. Or when you get asked really downright stupid questions from people at random, first asking, "Where do you come from?" then with a follow-up, "Do they have elevators in your country?" to which I once replied,. "Of course, we do. Otherwise how could we go up our tree houses everyday?"

They are all signs of ignorance, of course.  Crudeness. Or textbook inhumanity and entitlement.

Knowing how it feels and having gone through various experiences of discrimination makes it all the more worrisome that there seems to be an affirmation that such behavior is acceptable in Trump America.  Of course no less than The Donald himself said (to the camera, during a tv interview) that his followers must "Stop it!" because this is all too sad to happen at a time when he was spectacularly anointed into power. 

 But then again, it was the "euphoria" of the Trump victory that allegedly provoked these West Virginia women to compare Mrs. Obama to a primate ... and hail the incoming First Lady, the lucky lady from Slovenia as a "classy lady."  This has got nothing to do with being judgmental against Mrs. Trump because of her colorful past ... but it has got everything to do with the possible misinterpretation of the Trump victory as the first sign of a racial purging.

Blame it also on the miscalculation of Trump's call to arms during his campaign that we see videos of white men assaulting Black women on a train demanding for their seats because he should not be left standing  ... and the women should be "back in the fields."  

It is all about this Asian-American who was confronted by white hooligans and told to go "go back to Asia" because this is now a new America.  

It is about the sudden courage of white supremacists to be up front to tell any other person of color that they are reclaiming America and everybody else better kowtow to their demands because they are the superior race.

Now this is not only symptomatic ... but downright frightening and self-destructive for a nation that was established and built by immigrants.

What is equally frightening is how some Filipino Republicans see themselves in the larger scheme of things.  

Oh, yes: Filipinos hold the distinction of being the racial minority to have given Trump the greatest number of votes in the past election.  

There is nothing wrong with that. That is their choice --- and that is their conviction.  But I guess there is that certain tipping point, that ultimate eureka moment when Filipino surrenders his citizenship and pays allegiance to the American flag while singing The Star Spangled Banner --- that he really, really believes that he is now a hundred percent American, devoid of all his origins and obligations to the Inang Bayan that he has ... uh, traded in for what he thinks is a better model.

Again, there is nothing wrong with that.  That is perfectly fine. Your choice of citizenship is your choice of life. And as long as you are of sound mind ...then you can decide on what path you want your future to take.

But let is also be known, especially to some Filipinos, that a change of allegiance or citizenship does not mean a change of skin color.  

This I find funny --- if not absurd --- when Filipinos of dual citizenship or of naturalized stature think they are more WASP than the Kennedys.  It amuses me --- and sometimes disgusts me --- to hear the sort talk about them Filipinos vis a vis us Americans.  There must be such privilege and entitlement in owning that U.S. passport to have overhauled a completely different vision of self to discriminate against one's race of origin. 

And there must also be such false sense of arrogance and misplaced priorities to think that owning an American passport automatically turns a Filipino into a Caucasian. 

As one of my equally befuddled friends said about these Kanopinoys, "Don't they have mirrors in their houses?"  Regardless of what they think or do --- or even if they overdose on Glutathione --- they are and will always be persons of color.  Some of our ex-countrymen do not seem to think so. The acquisition of the accent and the acclimatization to the four seasons are reasons enough for them to think that they have achieved the stature of apple pie.

Now this has got nothing to do with being Republican --- because there are (I believe) a greater number of Fil-Americans who have kept the reverence for the values and traditions from which they came from.  Some have gone out of their way to insure that their children retain or at least be made aware of these traditions from their motherland on the other side of the planet.  There are some second-generation Fil-Ams who actually look for their roots hoping to understand themselves better in the duality of the circumstances of their origins and upbringing.

But there is nothing more disgusting than Filipinos discriminating against other Filipinos as they claim to be Amerikanitos who belittle their Inang Bayan.  That is because they have cut all ties with the island republic and would prefer to see themselves as a hundred percent continental. I, together with so many who are both alarmed and amused --- hoping that cases of blatant and even dangerous racism that have risen this past week are unique events ... and that this is put to an immediate stop because everyone of color is threatened to be intimidated and abused ... including the naturalized citizens and papered immigrants.

Another Amerikanito friend of mine (diehard Liberal, thinks Melania is original and classy and a beautiful example of somebody who achieved the American Dream --- o di ba?) says that all these racist stories are just media exaggerations and overblown accounts to discredit The Donald. He insists that these are isolated cases that the Democrats are maneuvering to look like a big deal.

Well, we certainly hope so. We cannot wish this level of illness even to people who deserve to be discriminated against because they themselves are racists against their own kind.

In the meantime we assure ourselves that racism is a sign of stupidity and insensitivity ... or even a very simple fear of people who are not your kind but who are doing better than you, who you feel are stealing opportunities from you and now a threat of displacing you.  There is indeed paranoia when your race becomes the minority in a country you claimed as your own.  That is the fear that arises when you refuse not only to embrace but respect diversity.

Then be afraid, if such be the case. Be very, very afraid dear racist ... because the truth is that .... you are not only outnumbered but also outclassed.

And for the record, Michelle Obama is one of the most beautiful, intelligent and impressive First Ladies not only in America but of the entire modern world.  It has got nothing and everything to do with the color of her skin: she went beyond expectations by simply being herself and bringing humanity to an otherwise ceremonial or even decorative role of a president's wife. That is something that goes over and above being classy in heels. It's called being a most awesome human being.

No comments:

Post a Comment