Racism and you


For the last 25 years, one of my favorite nieces worked in a high-end international hotel chain in the U.S. known, among other things, for its compassionate and liberal stance against serious social issues, like work-life balance, sustainability, diversity, social responsibility, and community engagement. They are also known to be hard core proponents of human rights.

Their weekly briefings do not only address everyday operations but also focus on employee wellness. As their founders believe, in the very words of J. Willard Marriott, if you “take care of your Associates first, they will take care of your customers”. How truly admirable that statement is! A healthy, happy, self-assured employee cannot help but transmit his contentment and satisfaction in his job to happily servicing guests at the hotel.

Well and good, but let us backtrack to one of those briefings. Because May was designated as AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Heritage month, my niece took it upon herself as an opportunity to educate her bosses and colleagues about the sad plight and trouble-filled history of Asians living in America. Mind you, my niece is a very private person and would only be vocal about something once she feels it has encroached too much on a personal level.

Thus, she talked about how her family moved to America despite enjoying a very comfortable life here in the Philippines. She recounted the hardship of starting again from scratch, taking on two jobs at a time, enduring at best, only about four hours of sleep between work and studies. Still, she said she never felt sorry for herself because she and the rest of the family were driven towards achieving the “great American dream”.

Along the way, however, they had encountered challenges and biases for being Asians. I quote from her letter:

“I can’t say that I have not experienced racism because I have, not to the extent that you see in the news, which as you can imagine is frightening to us — but my mom and I have had snowballs thrown at us one winter night by men who were shouting at us in pretend Chinese. I have been ignored in restaurants and withheld service, and people have slowed down their speech talking to me like I was deaf or five years old because they thought I couldn’t understand English.”

This was in the late 80s. Lately, the U.S. media have been filled with Asian hate crime news, notably about people throwing not only hurtful, abusive remarks to anyone perceived as Asian, telling them to go back where they came from, but also of unprovoked violent acts designed to maim, or even kill, innocent foreign-looking persons. To think that in America, the only original natives were the American Indians and all the rest came from Europe and other countries which made mostly everyone informal settlers and land grabbers! Adding fuel to the fire is the misconception and unverified allegation that the Covid-19 virus was created in a Chinese lab or that it came from China. How absolutely loathsome are people with their prejudices and hatred for the unknown or anything foreign to them!

But are we in the Philippines any better than our American counterparts? Don’t we discriminate against the Chinese all the time, calling them ugly names and blaming them for everything under the sun just because they are more successful and financially well-off than us? It’s all due to hard work and perseverance, people! Yes, we like the Koreans because of their pop culture as well as some Americans who have retired or have made their own families here because they are white-skinned and generally seen as a more superior race than us. That’s the colonial mentality for you.

I guess what I am trying to say is: whether it be white, black, brown, yellow, red or whatever color in the spectrum we belong to, we should regard each other as Brothers, having been molded from the same dirt and having the same color of blood in our veins.

There should be no discrimination, no racism, no distinction, no division, no walls, no nothing, except love and kindness across the ends of the earth.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we can all sing:

“C’mon people now

Smile on your brother

Ev’ry body get together

Try to love one another right now”

Let’s do our part in stopping racism and hate crimes. Let us keep ourselves educated and aware of issues affecting us and others. And if ever you are asked to choose between love and something else, always choose love. – NWI