{why did you hesitate?}

Because of the internal voice that made a home in my headspace, for almost all of my life, kept saying, “How can you say that?! Don’t be bastos!!”

Below is a very long status update I wrote, shortly after attending a video chat with some members of my local community, regarding BLM protests and candlelight vigil in our county. I began to realize that “starting at home” is not limited to my physical house, but it includes my hometown.

[Re-purposed into a blog post format]:

{Hi everyone! I am not very active on FB like before, but since I am here now, this is what’s been circulating in my mindspace for the last few days // NOTE: This is coming from my perspective as a 2nd-generation Filipino American, so most of what I am saying is grounded in this position:}

Firstly, BLACK. LIVES. MATTER. I am saying this {{loud & clear}} without hesitation this time. This is not a “trending moment”. This is not attempting clout or getting pats for doing a good job. This is a FACT that needs to be SAID OUT LOUD. This is coming from living in/growing up in a community where majority of the residents–my neighbors, my (former) schoolmates, my teachers, my acquaintances–are Black. I love you all. You are what community means, what home means. S/O to East Ramapo/Rockland ❤

Secondly, NO MORE SILENCE. The complexity of growing up Filipino American has been taped together in silence. From the spaces I’ve entered to form social consciousness & awareness, anti-Blackness is rampant in our community and it shows up in the most subtle ways. From being told to stay out of the sun to avoid getting dark, to hearing/making offhand comments or jokes regarding Black people, to even using the n-word to sound cool, all of this becomes ingrained to our minds that either we continue reinforcing these attitudes OR changing the ways we’ve been taught that harms/endangers the lives of Black people. One major change is BREAKING SILENCE when you know that this is all wrong. You want to call out injustices that show up in our families, social groups, and communities… but it’s hard because of how we were taught to “be respectful” or “not be bastos” (i.e., play respectability). I say, YES, IT IS HARD; BUT YOU CANNOT KEEP SILENT OR HIDE BEHIND FEAR IF YOU KNOW IN YOUR HEART THAT SOMEONE’S HUMANITY IS AT STAKE.

Thirdly, (part of the previous point) STAND IN SOLIDARITY BECAUSE BLACK LIVES MATTER. PERIOD. Solidarity is NOT transactional or conditional, as I am seeing the calls for it using language that suggests that’s how it is. While the sentiment is in the right place–because we want to protect/uplift each other–the execution is not exactly there… Yes, we *need to learn* the history of Filipinos and Black folx in America, but using that history as a way to show probable cause for *why* we have to be in solidarity, is not it. We are living IN THIS MOMENT to fight anti-Black racism NOW! [[RESOURCE — A *better explanation* of this point comes from Patrick Rosal on Twitter]]

Fourthly, THINK OF THE LONG TERM & OWN UP TO THE MISTAKES MADE! Yes, we need a break because we are getting tired, have been tired. But we must continue to do the inner work that’s going to be messy, uncomfortable, hectic–but this is so that the momentum that has started will continue. It may not be as explosive as it is now, but the energy must continue. This is so we won’t need to have another crisis remind us of why Black lives matter.

Also keep in mind, that while we do this work, mistakes will be made. We will be called out. We will not learn everything through crash courses on social media. We will not know everything to a T. We will use problematic language without being aware that it is problematic. BUT WE WILL DO BETTER IF WE TURN OUR MISTAKES INTO LESSONS. Being called out could be an opportunity to be “called in”, to understand where you are coming from, why you are in that type of space, and where you can go from there.

Lastly, EVERYONE HAS A ROLE! This kind of work isn’t limited to going out to protests, donating any money, or signing petitions. There is educating yourself & others on these issues and histories, organizing/holding group discussions to decompress, creating art, etc etc etc. Do not feel guilty if you want to get involved but feel like you have nothing to contribute; there is something we all have that can be shared and possible help someone out in the long-run! [[RESOURCE — I’ve seen this circulate around by different folx, so I’m sharing it here, as a jumpstart]]

This is all terrifying AF to say because it feels like I am taking up the space, when/where I shouldn’t. But affirmatively, this moment is a call to action. Learning from the various circles/spaces on what it means to be a non-Black POC ally, it starts from the “home”. Home meaning, the Self. Then the physical space and presence (family & friends). Then the communal space (neighborhood & community). Then further out.

Call to action means no more hesitation. Knowing enough to act and doing nothing is a greater disservice than staying ignorant/complacent. When the call to action is right in your gut, move with it; do not resist it! It’s gonna be scary, but that’s a valid reaction. I’ve had this many times before and relegated myself into the shadows, because I felt that maybe I wasn’t ready… But that alone is a privilege, to retreat… when for many, it was never an option. Answering that call will help to alleviate that burden of those who have been fighting for so long.

I am still working on all this. I am pushing myself to speak up, have those difficult conversations, admit my own faults, and listen-learn-discern. (In the words of a great rapper, “Sit down, be humble.”) I am recognizing the roles I am in and will fill in, as I get deeper into my future work, in hopes to be an educator and a published writer. If this isn’t the time to get super serious about fighting for a cause, then I have no business to step into those arenas at all without knowing what’s ahead.

{{~I yield my time~}}

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