Oct 12, 2017

While those of us here in Manila are celebrating the inauguration of the National Museum of Natural History, Filipinos in Downtown Stockton are facing the desecration of a vital heritage site for their community.

Little Manila Center was built in honor of the rich Filipino American history in California. It’s also been a hub where members of the Fil-Am community and other residents are educated about the contributions immigrants have made to the economy and to Downtown Stockton’s cultural heritage.

The first ones to discover the vandalism were youth dance students from the Little Manila Dance Collective. The vandals reportedly broke six window decals of a storefront, damaging donated photographs of male and female Filipino elders. As a final touch, they also left a jarring note for the community writing “White property. You’re a brainwashed bigot.”

All of this happened as the Stockton’s Filipino community celebrates Heritage Month this October. Considering the note and the timing, one can’t help but have words like “racism” and “hate crime” come to mind.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was also an issue with the delay of response from the police about the incident. When members of the community tried to reach out to the Stockton Police Department to investigate the incident, it took the local authorities two hours before showing up. And not before Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs took notice of a student’s complaints on Twitter about the lack of correspondence from the police.

In the midst of the politically-charged atmosphere in America, this is perhaps a wake-up call to Filipinos in the US that they themselves are not exempt from the issue of racism. Filipino-Americans, especially the elderly, have earned a reputation for thinking themselves exempt or immune from the racial biases and aggressions experienced by other members of the marginalized communities in America. They like to distance and differentiate themselves from the African American community, the Muslims, the Syrian refugees, and more.

In light of this incident, perhaps they’d finally find time to think again.

 

The Board of Directors of Little Manila has since released a statement addressing the incident.

Header photo courtesy of Facebook.com/littlemanilafoundation

 

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TAGS: California Downtown Stockton Fil-Am Filipinos fixture hate crime hate crme Little Manila racism US