Racism thrives on ignorance of the history that isn’t taught is history erased. Sarah Javier has this Perspective.
Patriotism was plentiful in my childhood as a Filipino-American U.S. Navy brat. But despite how American I was, I often felt like a foreigner in my conservative Southern hometown. I thought things would change once I moved to the Bay, where I was finally surrounded by people who looked like me.
I realized I was still an outsider.
The United States has erased Asians from its past. History books gloss over the estimated 200,000 Filipinos killed during the Philippine-American War. The horror of Japanese internment camps was hastily covered in my high school American History class. I learned about the Chinese Exclusion Act from young adult fiction books. And although AAPI representation is improving in Hollywood, progress is slow.
On a personal level, anti-Asian racism has led me to grieve the lack of knowledge I could have had growing up. I was never taught about the role that Filipino-American labor leader Larry Itliong played alongside Cesar Chavez in shaping modern day labor unions. I knew nothing about racism perpetrated by White men against Filipinos in 1930s Stockton, or how legislation made it impossible for Filipinos to have interracial marriages. I would guess that many other Filipino-Americans like me are also in the dark.