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How Quickly We Forget?

Larry Itliong & Cesar Chavez led the Filipinos & Mexicans to form the labor union United Farm Workers.

As a U.S. born, mixed ethnicity Fil-Am, I find it puzzling and even appalling that many of my fellow Pinoys/Pinays conveniently forgot their history.

In earlier times during the professional era of immigration, Filipinos came to America with the dreams of "making it".  My father was one such individual.  He was educated in the Philippines, graduated from the Ateneo de Zamboanga, was schooled by the Jesuits at St. Ignatius of Loyola and came to America to get his bachelor and master's degrees.  He settled in the Bay Area, had 3 children, and even became a leader in the Filipino Community of Solano County.  The lessons he learned were passed down to me and even though he is gone now, I know he still watches over my family and me.  Which brings me to my point - Filipinos have been about family and community.  We have always known that helping others less fortunate is ingrained in our DNA, yet many of us have assimilated into this American way of life.  As Filipinos, we understand kababayan pamayanan and cherish our family and countrymen/women; conversely, as Americans, we have bought into the struggle of getting ahead at all costs even if it means ignoring our plight of our own health, our own community, and our own values.

We forget that "a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link."

So why do we turn our backs on the Black and Latino/a/x communities?  As a people, we share more with them than we do with our European brothers and sisters.  Shouldn't we all be lifting up these individuals rather than trying to squash their voices?  This is not to say that they are any less capable or lower than the Filipino/a . . . No!  If anything, as a society we need to be honest and provide opportunity to those who have been held back due to the inherent socially and racially biased systems that have kept people of color down for all too long.  If you are a denier that such inequalities exist, then please check your privilege at the door!  Such viewpoints are the cause of the divisiveness that is at the root of the problem in America.

Let's not pretend that we Filipinos have always enjoyed the privilege of being considered non-threatening to the system.

Decades ago, we stood with our Latino/a/x brothers and sisters in the United Farm Workers Movement, and our leaders were labeled as "communists" and "rioters." (Does that ring a bell? Many Black Lives Matter activists are incorrectly labeled as "socialists" and "rioters" to discredit the movement. Never mind that the rhetoric against varying economic philosophies or the reaction to centuries of oppression obfuscates from the central argument to reform the criminal justice system!) Our Black brothers and sisters stood with us in front of the International Hotel in San Francisco, where the we faced the threat of gentrification, only to be attacked by the police and forced out onto the streets. Events like those are testimonies to our strength together, yet we seem to have forgotten our history of solidarity. Many have fed into the narrative that law and order should be prioritized over mutual aid.

The United Farm Workers of America, or more commonly just United Farm Workers (UFW), is a labor union for farmworkers in the United States. It originated from the merger of two workers' rights organizations, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) led by organizer Larry Itliong, and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta. They became allied and transformed from workers' rights organizations into a union as a result of a series of strikes in 1965, when the mostly Filipino farmworkers of the AWOC in DelanoCalifornia initiated a grape strike, and the NFWA went on strike in support. As a result of the commonality in goals and methods, the NFWA and the AWOC formed the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee on August 22, 1966.[2] This organization was accepted into the AFL-CIO in 1972 and changed its name to the United Farm Workers Union.[3]

Currently, our leaders in the Republican party have failed to reel in their own leaders from stoking the flames of division.

If this continues, our democracy is headed for a tipping point.  The oligarchs will control the union and control or demolish any voices of dissent.  I fear our democracy, that great experiment of a free and diverse society, will fall to the annals of time due to the arrogance playing out in our government and society.  Not being willing to help others is not just a political position that should be addressed, but a religious one.  Anyone who considers themselves religious is a hypocrite if they don't side with the protesters on the streets.  Why?  Simply because Black Lives Matter.  The message is simple and to the point.  Yes, we can say all lives matter, but you don't really mean it unless Black lives are treated with the same respect and opportunities as other lives.

Filipinos should understand that the plight of people of color is also our struggle.

To say otherwise is to be serving of the current power structure which only provides quid pro quo; in other words, you can keep your status if you keep me in power.  This doesn't provide growth or development as a fair and civil society, but results in the status quo or the continued oppression of those who are already in a position of disadvantage.  I realize that there are those of you  who are reading this disagree with me and you simply can't change a coconut (think about it) into a pineapple (the symbol of hospitality/community).  Just try to keep an open mind about what lessons you will teach your children and what kind of world you want to leave them.  The legacy we leave our children will be living the honesty, integrity, and equality rather than talking about them.

Truth matters!

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