Sunday, June 28, 2009
Despite widespread efforts by many sectors to build a world without borders, the problem of racial discrimination still persists. The white/colored binary hardly disintegrates although it has drawn flaks since the heydays of Exploration, Conquests and Slavery, even from within the Caucasian society to which the white masters belong. Half a millennium since and yet the seeds of postcolonial independence are still bearing bitter fruits, with the white people remaining dominant over the colored folks. Today’s racism consists of seemingly harmless slurs up to the extreme form of racially instigated hate crimes.
We Filipinos, with claims of pride in belonging to the Malayan race, are both guilty of and victimized by this racial sting. Perhaps learning much from the Spanish and American colonizers, we tend to look down on people darker than us, laughing at who we refer to as “negro-negra” whenever we see them on television, comedy bars, even the academe—a supposedly ideology-free institution. Probably displacing our own resentment for not being white unlike our colonial masters, we mock our own Aeta brethrens, or deride our black brethrens for no other reason than their complexion. We lump them together under a sweeping category of being Africans, whether or not they indeed are. This, of course, is nothing but a case of colonial overload, a sign that we still subscribe to the false consciousness of white complexion being the universal standard of beauty. And as if the symptom is not enough, we have not spared our very skin. We have not become comfortable with our brown pigmentation that we slather many sorts of whiteners all over our bodily surface. We want to be like the white people, our very oppressors, the ones who peg us under racist categories such as “flips,” “mail-order brides,” “servants,” “whores,” “brown savages,” “pygmies”. The list goes on, but this has to stop because it defeats the purpose of racial understanding and, ultimately, of world peace.
There is no substitute for political correctness. Hence, let us cease calling each other by racially-charged names, because our skin color does not define our abilities. Not because one is black or brown, one’s skills are limited to menial jobs. Slavery was long abolished; it does not hold any more to treat the colored people as if they are at their best when they are maids or prostitutes only, as stereotyped perpetually in media. There are non-white engineers, scientists, professionals who might have been unable to ward off racist remarks while creating their personal spaces, but did not allow the same to prevent them from achieving much. If we look beyond the complexion, we will see that the non-whites in our midst are more than their value-laden skin is worth.
Let us remember that beneath our skins are muscles that are uniform in all human beings. Thus, the beauty of the pigment is just skin-deep.