OPINION: As a brown-skinned Filipina, I support the #BlackLivesMatter movement
#BlackLivesMatter is an international human rights movement. It originated from within the African-American community as they fight against violence, systematic racism, and police brutality. With George Floyd‘s unfortunate death at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin, it ignited protests against the American government.
George Floyd’s death hugely impacts the #BlackLivesMatter movement
Floyd died due to a simple accusation over the account of a counterfeited $20 bill outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Chauvin placed his knee between Floyd’s head and neck, visibly asphyxiating the victim. The police officer kept his knee on his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds.
George Floyd pleaded and begged, “I can’t breathe.” Eventually, he became unconscious which led to his death. Fortunately, justice found Floyd as Chauvin became jobless and charged with third-degree murder. Floyd’s case wouldn’t be the first death at the hand of an American police officer, though. Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Breonna Taylor, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and many names have died over the course of a painful history.
As a brown-skinned Filipina, I support the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and here are some reasons why:
I am a dark-brown-skinned Filipina living in the Philippines. I would remember people telling me, “Maganda ka sana, maitim ka lang,” as if it was a compliment. Thinking about how I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, I would smile even though I actually feel offended. Acknowledging that I wasn’t breathtakingly beautiful, I knew I don’t have boys or girls falling at my feet. I looked average and okay. But, do I have to lighten my skin to be classified as “acceptable looking”? Then, as I learn about the #BlackLivesMatter movement, a thought struck pulling me to a much darker sentiment:
Being bullied for my dark brown skin isn’t even a teensy bit comparable with experiencing racism like a black person does in America. I may not understand their struggles but I can damn well empathize with them and help them add volumes to their voices during the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Police Brutality against the Black Community
Current #BlackLivesMatter protests show police officers using excessive and unnecessary force. Rallies become bloody and dangerous as police officers use tear gas and rubber bullets as tactics on protesters in some cities. Attendees posted photos on social media of people choking from tear gas and getting large welts from rubber bullets (some even bleeding due to larger impact). Aside from that, they also have to deal with other injuries from confrontations with the police.
“Nonlethal” crowd control tactics turn bloody
Although described as nonlethal methods of crowd control, it can cause injury and even death. One of the most heartbreaking results I’ve seen of police brutality in a peaceful protest involves an unarmed homeless man in a wheelchair named Charf Lloyd. An FWDSET photographer was being arrested and decided to take photos before the police officers put handcuffs on him. The LAPD has boxed in the #BlackLivesMatter protesters.
However, the LAPD decided that an unarmed and homeless man wheeling himself across the street was somehow a threat. Then, the photographer saw them fire rubber bullets directly at his face. The most disturbing part was that as Lloyd writhes in pain, the police officers still point their weapons at him. Although he is still alive, he continues to need medical attention. FWDSET tracked him down and created a GoFundMe donation link for some help.
Unfortunately, some lives ended due to unjust brutality during many protests which were supposed to be a peaceful one.
Extra-Judicial Killings in the Philippines
Just like what Daniel Reyes wrote in a story for MEGA, you can’t support #BlackLivesMatter if you neglect the extra-judicial killings here in our country. There are similarities regarding police brutality and injustice since the onset of the country’s supposed war on drugs. Instead of eradicating the actual drugs, police officers storm innocent people’s homes or drag an innocent kid in a dark alley and kill them. Aside from that, they would also plant fake evidence to criminalize the victim.
Kian Delos Santos’ death
A 17-year-old male student named Kian Delos Santos became the most notable victim of this extra-judicial killings. Apparently, cops reported that they were forced to retaliate during their operations. As “shots were fired” at them, he was “prompted to return fire.” According to eyewitnesses, on the other hand, they heard Delos Santos plead and yell “Tama na po! May test pa po ako bukas!”
Aside from that, CCTV footage also shows the teenager being unarmed. However, he was given a gun, coerced to run, and shoot. The three policemen almost got away with it. Eventually, they were convicted of murder, charged with reclusion perpetual, and imprisonment for twenty to forty years without eligibility for parole. The media and many Filipino people have shone a light and spoke on this matter.
However, lopsided police officers’ actions and brutality have yet to cease.
Yes, even as a Filipina, I see that privilege regarding skin color exists. Even some Filipinos think that a fair-skinned person is pretty, intelligent, and trustworthy while a dark-skinned one (like me) is ugly, unintelligent, and suspicious. Aside from that, if a fair-skinned person gets angry, it looks cute. However, when a dark-skinned person gets angry, it looks threatening and deserves a call from the authorities or the higher-ups.
We’ve already established police officers making brutal actions against the black community. They grow up fearful of the men dressed in blue uniforms. White people, on the other hand, see them as a source of safety rather than danger. Some white people acknowledge this and speak up against it while many others deny ever having that privilege. Too many black and brown people are not safe with the police.
Relationship with the police
Tamir Rice and Dangerria Becton were only children. Jonathan Ferrell was seeking medical help. Rekia Boyd and Walter Scott had their backs turned. Antonio Zambrano-Montes and Michael Brown already had their hands up. Tanisha Anderson, Natasha McKenna, Freddie Gray, and Sandra Bland were already in custody. After their confrontations with the police, they are either critically injured or dead.
At the hands of police officers, a white child would be safe and secure. A white man seeking medical help would receive what he asked for. If a white man had his back turned, a police officer wouldn’t even think of attacking him. Aside from that, if a white person is already in custody, not only would they be safe but they would also have lesser time in prison. No matter how you look at it, white privilege clearly exists.
When we see a Hispanic person in some form of entertainment, they would either be a maid or a person involved in a drug syndicate. An African-American person in some form of entertainment, on the other hand, would be either be an obsessive and crazy ex-girlfriend or a gang-involved drug-using criminal.
When we see a Muslim person in some form of entertainment, they would be a terrorist. Meanwhile, an Asian person in some form of entertainment would be an annoying and geeky know-it-all. People-of-color or minorities are commonly cast as the comedic relief or as a sidekick. As the stars of the show, white people find themselves diversely represented in books, movies, and TV shows.
Brock Turner, a perfect example for white privilege
Do you guys remember that rapist Brock Turner? He raped Chanel Miller in 2015. At the time, Miller attended a fraternity party with her younger sister and unfortunately, let her guard down. Turner attacked her and raped her. Two graduate students approached him to see if she was alright. Turner fled but was tackled a few moments later.
The students found her half-naked behind a Stanford University dumpster with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach. She didn’t remember any of it but woke up on a gurney in a hospital hallway. Miller had to learn the details of what happened to her the way the rest of the world did — reading the news on her phone while on the way to work.
George Floyd literally died just because of an accusation of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Brock Turner attacked and raped Chanel Miller after she became intoxicated. And before any of you say anything, just because someone happens to be intoxicated, it doesn’t give anybody a right to sexually assault them. Brock Turner is white while George Floyd is black. The comparison speaks for itself: a white man’s charges can be dropped while a black person can lose their life.
Turner only got six months of jail but served three months due to “good behavior.”
Good behavior, my ass.
Death Eaters and the Terror Bill
America has its Hayleighs, Beckys, Susans, Karens, and Gertrudes while the Philippines has You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters. Many Filipino people gave President nicknames like “Voldemort,” “You-Know-Who,” and/or “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” They have also started to call his die-hard supporters as “Death Eaters.” This is a direct reference to the acclaimed Harry Potter series.
This nickname-calling started due to the Anti-Terror Bill that has been introduced. Just in case you didn’t know, the bill victimizes the Philippine administration, its followers, and silent ignorants while criminalizing those who speak up against the government and its supporters. Currently, people who have used the hashtags #JunkTerrorBill and/or #OustYouKnowWho have been targeted with dummy Facebook accounts.
FILIPINOS FOR #BLACKLIVESMATTER MOVEMENT
Did you know that Americans kidnapped a group of Igorot headhunters from their homes? Did you know that the same Igorots became a spectacle in Coney Island amusement park in 1905? If you didn’t know that, the main reason implies that nobody put it in history books. Their “owners” forced them to perform mock tribal ceremonies and consume dog meat in front of curious Americans.
The Black Panthers stood with us, Filipinos, at a time of need.
Did you know there was a time that San Francisco government officials were trying to evict Filipinos from Little Manila in the 1970s? Did you know that Black Panthers stood with Filipinos and defended their rights to stay there? The Immigration Act of 1965 allowed many Filipinos to come, thanks to the help of the Black Panthers during the Civil Rights movement.
Marxist college students Bobby Seale and Huey Newton founded the revolutionary socialist political organization called The Black Panther Party (BPP) in October 1966 in Oakland, California. The Black Panther’s core goal sets to monitor the behavior of officers of the Oakland Police Department and challenge police brutality in the city. Basically, we are still fighting against the same issue with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Little Manila (or Manilatown or Filipinotown) became a large community filled with Filipino immigrants and their descendants. There existed a Manilatown in San Francisco. One of its last remnants was the International Hotel. In the 1960s, San Francisco officials pushed plans for “Manhattanization” of its downtown area, targeting the removal of tens of thousands of low-income residents.
By 1968, the community decided to fight back which the Black Panther Party strongly endorsed and promoted. In the coming years, the development of the Financial district swallowed all of Manilatown – except for one structure, the International Hotel. Fighting to save tenants from eviction, and to preserve the Manilatown, the fight later evolved into a nearly decade-long battle which ended in the violent night in 1977.
History books have always left out huge parts of our stories.
Our African-American brothers and sisters stood with us, Filipinos, at a time of need.
Don’t you think it’s time to do the same?
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Angela Grace P. Baltan has been writing professionally since 2017. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. Aside from that, she has an affinity for writing anything under the sun. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, the LGBTQIA+ community, and mental health among others.