Tag Archive | "racism"

FF Podcast 73 (Audio): Sexism and Tony Meloto’s GK

Audio Podcast 73: Sexism and Tony Meloto's GK

This week, we talk about Tony Meloto’s controversial speech in Hawaii where he suggested that Filipinas should have babies with white men for the benefit of the country. We also talk about the apparent cult of personality built around Tony Meloto and Gawad Kalinga.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, SocietyComments (0)

FF Podcast 73: Sexism and Tony Meloto’s GK

This week, we talk about Tony Meloto’s controversial speech in Hawaii where he suggested that Filipinas should have babies with white men for the benefit of the country. We also talk about the apparent cult of personality built around Tony Meloto and Gawad Kalinga.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Language, Media, Podcast, Religion, Secularism, Society, VideoComments (1)

FF Podcast 011: Pinoy Racism and LGBT Rights

Margie, Red and Pepe host Filipino Freethinkers Podcast Episode 11
Margie, Red, and Pepe are back for episode 11 of the Filipino Freethinkers Podcast. This week, we talk about racism in Filipino culture. Then we take a closer look at the claim that LGBT rights “trample” on the rights of religious people.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes


Posted in Gender Rights, Podcast, Politics, Secularism, Society, VideoComments (0)

Pinoy Pride: Where I’m from, Everyone’s a Racist

Jessica Sanchez recently lost on American Idol, a talent show, ultimately decided by viewer voting. But by the way many Filipinos reacted to the results, you’d think it was a presidential election. Few accepted Jessica’s defeat, many giving Jessica — and themselves — the consolation prize of believing that while Phillip Phillips was the American Idol, Jessica Sanchez was the World Idol. Some went as far as asking for a recount.

But within the range of reactions, I found one particularly interesting. The argument goes that Phillip Phillips only won because he was American — and the White Guy With Guitar always wins — and that if Jessica were American, too, she would win because she obviously had more talent. And wasn’t American Idol above all a contest of talent? Wasn’t it supposed to avoid becoming a contest about race? If so, wouldn’t this count as racism? Ironically, these are the questions many of Jessica’s fans — and those who subscribe to Pinoy Pride — need to ask themselves.

On the face of it, Pinoy Pride — the kind that would champion Jessica Sanchez and Manny Pacquiao and Charice Pempengco because they’re Filipino — is harmless. Being Filipino is just one of the arbitrary traits that people use to pick their favorites, something that makes it easier to identify with and relate to one person, one out of many others who have less to do with them. And it’s not like race (or for that matter, ethnicity) is the only thing that makes a fan a fan. Jessica Sanchez is an awesome singer, and no one can throw a million punches like Manny Pacquiao.

But such sentiments are not what make Pinoy Pride. I’m a fan of Manny Pacquiao’s boxing myself, and so are many of my friends. But when his last match with Marquez went his way even though it looked like a definite defeat, his being Filipino didn’t keep us from thinking that he unfairly got the decision because of his champion status.

So how can we tell whether someone has Pinoy Pride? Two related logical fallacies are dead giveaways: hasty generalization and confirmation bias. When you say that Filipino boxers and singers are unusually talented because there are people like Sanchez and Pacquiao, you are taking an observation of an individual of a group and making a conclusion about everyone from that group. Because Manny Pacquiao is a good boxer, all Filipinos boxers are good. This is hasty generalization.

Such categorical (all or nothing) statements are easy enough to refute because all you have to do is find a single example to disprove the claim. There are many mediocre boxers and singers but these examples are easily forgotten (consciously or unconsciously) or not noticed at all. Only the examples that would prove the preferred claim are remembered. This is called confirmation bias.

Again, Pinoy Pride when applied to sports or talent shows seems harmless on the surface. But if left unexamined and uncorrected, this kind of thinking fosters negative thinking habits: lazy thinking at best, blatant racism at worst. There are many such statements that display Pinoy Pride, but I’ll use one that has bugged me since the first time I saw it: “Where I’m from, Everyone’s a Hero.” To this day I am annoyed at the patent stupidity of the statement, and perplexed that even smart people subscribe to it.

It sounds nice and nationalistic. But is it true? It says that in the Philippines there are only heroes — no villains. Everyone deserves to be emulated and admired. Sure, there are many private individuals, public servants, and even celebrities we can consider heroic. But everyone? Even the murderers, rapists, and murderer-rapists? Even the corrupt public officials who give us the reputation of being the most corrupt country in Asia? Even the Ampatuans who allegedly killed their political rivals and innocent journalists in the Maguindanao massacre?

Again, categorical statements are easy to disprove. But in this case, Everyone’s a Hero is not just inaccurate, it’s a blatant lie. For starters, count the people in the Philippines you truly consider heroic. I’ll assume that your standards are relatively low and that you’re patient enough to count up to 1000. If the Philippines had 100 million people (without an RH law, this will be very soon), heroes count for only 0.001% of the population. So it’s actually more truthful to say that “Where I come from, almost no one is a hero.”

Everyone’s a Hero can only be true if you argue that a hero is someone who is located in the Philippines. Then why don’t we make that our tourism slogan? Everyone wants to be a hero, right? “You’re more heroic in the Philippines.” But kidding aside, this kind of thinking trivializes heroism, disrespecting the legacy of true heroes like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, the Katipunan, and the many modern day heroes who truly deserve the title.

But Pinoy Pride doesn’t just ignore statistics and trivialize heroism. It gets worse. Some people think being Filipino (not just being in the Philippines) is worth being proud of. This makes it easy for them to swallow such statements as Everyone’s a Hero. But in the same way that Pinoy Pride hides contradictory examples — confirmation bias — so too does it hide necessary implications that a person wouldn’t normally make. That is, people who make Pinoy Pride statements only consider their positive implications, completely ignoring their negative ones. (Maybe this can be called implication bias.)

Let’s examine Everyone’s a Hero. When you say that all Filipinos are heroes, you are making a positive statement about Filipinos. But what are you saying about those who are not Filipino? If your answer is, “Well, they’re heroes, too, I guess,” then the statement loses its meaning. If people, whatever country they’re from, are all heroes, why make the statement at all? The statement either has no informational value, or it implies something that you’d rather ignore: “Where you’re not from, not everyone is a hero.”

This could be taken to mean that “only some are heroes” on one end to “there are no heroes” in the other. The point is that when it comes to having heroes, the Philippines is superior. And in the end, this is what Pinoy Pride is about: the inherent superiority of someone for the simple reason that they belong to a particular race or ethnicity. This is nothing new, of course. Almost 80 years ago, this nationalistic way of thinking was fashionable in Germany.

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A Laborious and Exhaustive Deconstruction of GMA’s Sophomore (and Sophomoric) Foray into the Phenomenon of Malay Blaxploitation

What the fuck.

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Pride and Prejudice (and outgrowing both)

Racism has and will always be a hot-button topic, more so for anybody who has survived the infamous Jim Crow era of the United States.

From 1877 to the 1960s, African-Americans were treated as literal second-class citizens. They couldn’t vote, they couldn’t use any facilities reserved for Whites, and couldn’t shake hands with Whites. Given the heavy restrictions imposed on their civil rights, it’s no surprise that a gesture as small as refusing to sit in the back of a bus sparked a firestorm of civil activism.

Brief history lessons aside, how would you feel about going to a museum whose express purpose is of displaying artifacts from this era?

A former sociology professor has used his 2,000-piece collection of racist memorabilia to start a museum dedicated to the worst excesses of the segregation era. The exhibits range from a full-size replica of a lynching tree to a T-shirt that reads “Obama in ’08,” accompanied by a cartoon monkey holding a banana. On one wall, a poster shows four young black children sitting by a river, with the caption “Alligator bait.”

The objects “should either be in a garbage can or a museum,” according to David Pilgrim, founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. The former professor at Michigan’s Ferris State University started the collection as a teenager in Alabama during the 1970s and donated it to the school in 1996. Now, thanks to donors, it has a permanent home in an exhibition hall on campus. The venue will have its grand-opening ceremony on April 26, the Associated Press reported.

To say the museum is awkward is an understatement. Taking this story into a more local context however, would you agree to setting up a local museum for racism, or prejudice, for that matter?

Personally, I’d love it.

Don’t get me wrong – I abhor bigotry of any color (no pun intended), and would love nothing more than to see the human race as a whole to outgrow it. However, I also strongly believe that for us to get past our prejudices, we will need to take a more critical look at out own history, and not just necessarily gloss over the triumphs that puts the fire in our nationalistic fervor. Less of a regurgitation of fairy tales, and more an unbiased eye to reality, if you will.

After all, NOT talking about the problem of LGBT discrimination hasn’t really helped spread awareness (DADT comes to mind), has it? And NOT talking about women’s issues certainly hasn’t done anything to help uplift their lack of access to medicines and other relevant services. If anything, pretending to be mum about these issues has only aggravated the problem. Not to mention that it leaves us incredibly onion-skinned when somebody does raise a stink.

Opening up discussions on our prejudices doesn’t necessarily mean we have to defend or justify them, after all. It can be as simple as us acknowledging that we’ve been ignorant over the matter of LGBT hate crimes, for instance, or that we’ve been insensitive pricks over women’s issues. It’s definitely going to be a very awkward first step to talk about our prejudices (let alone immortalizing them in a museum) openly, but then again, so was puberty, right?

Pinoys really need to realize that facing our own inner prejudices is a show of control: It means that we’re developing a mastery of our inner conflicts, and using our cognitive abilities to weaken decades of misconceptions and false assumptions. In martial arts-speak, understanding your own weaknesses and striving to correct them is a show of strength in itself.

Since I promised the presiding overlords to keep this short, I’m encouraging the readers to visit our FB page, or to post their two cents on the comments below.

As a parting note, here’s a question for you: If you could set up a museum for one particular type of bigotry in the Philippines, what would you choose, and what sort of memorabilia would you have on display?

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On Being White in a Brown Nation

Although I am a New Zealander with Maori ancestry (kayumanggi), my Scots-Irish genes predominate and I am thus cursed with white skin. I say cursed, because in New Zealand being white is not an advantage. White means sickly, unattractive, and a possibly genetically problematic mate.

Thus, whenever the sun shyly and coquettishly re-emerged after winter, we university students would find a good place to lie naked under its heathen embrace and encourage its  life affirming touch to rekindle our chances of getting laid with our new healthy tan. Brown was beautiful. White was…well, the pallor of death.

It was not till I arrived in the Philippines and started work in the English Department at UP Diliman that I discovered how misguided I had been.

The sun was the enemy to be avoided at all costs. Whenever it came out, up went protective umbrellas. People routinely insulted one another by observing that the other had gotten darker (“Umitim ka.”).

What had been the ultimate compliment in my previous life was now the ultimate curse.

Everywhere I looked, there were skin whitening products for sale. The harmony of ebony and ivory was now the promise of ebony to ivory. Before and after billboard posters showed what appeared to me to be a gorgeous morena girl frowning on the left who miraculously transformed into a grinning mestiza version on the right.

I felt perverse. I preferred the left.

Yet, remorselessly, every second ad showed miserable brown girls touched by the fairy god mother of whitening products to become happy, fulfilled white versions. Even their noses grew and their hair straightened, it seemed.

This white thing was no joke. It was serious business. A simple equation was evident: brown equals misery = white equals happiness.

I began to feel better about myself. Hell, I was white. My nose was long. Those very things that had caused me great angst were now an asset. Shit. Why didn’t I come here earlier!

Then I saw Jesus on the side of a jeepney. I saw Jesus on billboards. I even saw little baby Jesus in a million cradles at Christmas. And he was white too!

It was getting even better! Even God was white! Now you couldn’t get a better endorsement than that for a complexion! Staggering! A man born and bred in the Middle East was somehow a Brad Pitt lookalike!

I grant you it makes no sense. He should have looked more like Osama Bin Laden, but maybe he was an albino or maybe Mary had this Filipino obsession with umbrellas. In any event, here I was in a country where white was automatically beautiful. Why fight it?

I therefore, secretly of course, cast off my foolish liberal sentimentality and embraced my new status. I silently thanked the Spanish invaders and the Yanks for managing to so brilliantly infect the minds of 100 million people.

Thank you, Magellan. Thank you, President McKinley.

Although I continue to publicly rail against the obvious insanity and obscenity of all this, deep down, in some Neanderthalian recess of my brain, I thank the invaders and I never forget to give a begrudging nod to the white saints that front Quiapo church as I pass it.

It’s almost enough to turn this atheistic Buddhist, Catholic.


Posted in Humor, Personal, SocietyComments (18)

Atheists of Color

Greta Cristina has made a list of prominent atheists of color to reflect the diversity of the atheist community:

If you’re helping to organize an atheist conference, and you want your conference to be more diverse and more reflective of the makeup of the atheist community? If you’re an atheist writer or activist, and you want your quotations/ citations/ blogroll/ etc. to be more diverse and more reflective of the makeup of the atheist community? If you’re simply part of the atheist community/ movement, and you want to be more familiar with the work of a wider range of atheists, a range that’s more diverse and more reflective of the makeup of the atheist community? Hopefully, this list will help.

By the way, person of color is used primarily in the United States, so here’s a brief definition from Wikipedia:

a term used, primarily in the United States, to describe all people who are not white. The term is meant to be inclusive among non-white groups, emphasizing common experiences of racism. People of color was introduced as a preferable replacement to both non-white and minority, which are also inclusive, because it frames the subject positively; non-white defines people in terms of what they are not (white), and minority frequently carries a subordinate connotation.[1] Style guides for writing from American Heritage,[2] the Stanford Graduate School of Business,[3] Mount Holyoke College,[4] recommend the term over these alternatives. It may also be used with other collective categories of people such as students of color or women of color.

Aside from getting more diversity in the atheist movement, Greta wants to address the impression (at least in the US) that most, if not all, atheists are white Americans. She addresses the issues and problems related to this in two separate posts.

As far as I know, there are two Filipinos on that list: me and Maggie Ardiente, director of development and communications, American Humanist Association; editor of Humanist Network News (AHA’s weekly e-zine). Filipino Freethinkers is also included on the list of organizations.

If you know of an individual or organization that should be on that list, please help Greta out by leaving the details in the comment section of that post.

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