First Q: Internalized Racism

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First Q: Internalized Racism

Post by Admin on Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:03 am

As individuals that have been in Canada at an early age, I was wondering what your thoughts are about Internalized Racism (racist attitude towards members of the same ethnic group). In my research, I've found reports and evidence about the presence of Internalized Racism in Filipino communities abroad...

So my question is (are) - have you guys experienced Internalized Racism? Why do you think this happens and what contributes to its growth?


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Re: First Q: Internalized Racism

Post by dexterslab on Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:30 am

Yes, I've experienced internalized racism both as a 'victim' and as an 'instigator'. There are a few reasons from my own experience and observed experience, which I can see is relatable to other Filipinos who contribute to its growth:

1. The culture of being Filipino. When the Spanish colonized the Philippines, they brought all aspects of their culture and social practices, which included a level of excessive drama (when you're maarte) in emotion and social interaction and a fiery passion for gossip. These are secondary but important traits that had been passed down and assimilated into Filipino social culture because the concept of status, rank and social class was very important.

As the generations passed down these ideals to their children and so on, the concept always stayed the same but was adjusted to fit the standard of what was classy, high-society, etc. of that era. And this is something that I think has not changed all this time. Of course, it's dependent of each person, each family and how they view, act upon and teach these ideals - or if they do not care about any of this at all.

My experience with this is that, yes, that concept of social class and all the sub-points that fall under it has been expressed passively and directly (sometimes aggressively) towards me by my parents instructing me how to carry myself, and speak when speaking to certain Filipinos (ie. family friends whose mentality isn't as progressive or Westernized, or to extended relatives, etc.). Additionally how to size someone up -- but not for the sake of being judgemental -- but in order to assess how to potentially guard myself or again, carry myself if ever I am in a circumstance to socialize and interact with that person.

2. The family upbringing and the level of impact it has on you. Stemming off of #1 and as aforementioned, it totally depends on each person and family how these ideals and ways of thinking is acted upon, thought of and taught. I was born in Vancouver, so I identify as Canadian first, and Filipino second. My parents immigrated to Vancouver in their teens; but in terms of social ways and thinking, they have what I see as a very progressive, acceptance and understanding way of thinking and acting; they do retain a lot of the traditional Filipino ideals but do not act intuitively upon it, because they have been here for so long, that they know it's not 'the way'.

My experience with my family upbringing and this concept is a bit of the extremes: it's a weird balance of being on the far left and far right of the spectrum. There is indefinitely a level of judgement, assumptions and prejudice practiced when they observe other Filipinos in public. But also how we express that judgement is very passive, even kept to ourselves. For example, if we were walking at the mall and pass by a Filipino family walking the other way, and we see the parents acting like what we call 'wannabes' (acting like they're fully Westernized, assimilated, know their shit or think they're the shit, etc.) but we can clearly see that they're dressed baduy and act like they're provinciana (from the province) upon observing their social interactions, we will probably shake our heads and laugh among ourselves. And that's the passive spectrum of how I was brought up with these ideals.

When I was in my teens, I absolutely hated my mother consistently badgering and reminding me to a point of nagging to "make myself special" whenever we were to anticipate going to a family party where the entire clan would be present, or any engagement that had a lot of Filipinos who were not in our immediate family. It is not in my personality or how I see things to be or act like that. Personally, I do not give a shit. But because I am ethnically Filipino, regardless of where I was raised, the rest of the people only see that I am Filipino, which means *ding* that judgemental and sizing up signal goes up for them and my shields (how I position and carry myself) go up too. Because of this 'hard wiring' -- I cannot not close off that level of judgement upon myself and to care to a certain level about my appearance in looks, my education, accomplishments, job, and any other activities or accolades that may help identify my level of accomplishment and "care but don't care" (because we are in Canada) about my status. If I was in the Philippines, the level of caring to a point of excessive vanity about my appearance, status and everything in between, would all be unapologetically aggressive. But this is as aggressive as that opposite part of the spectrum of how I was brought up.


With this background information in mind, I experienced internalized racism in both elementary and high school. Both of which were private Catholic schools.

As a 'victim' I was socially isolated from my Filipina (this was mainly the girls) classmates. I felt that I was pushed away by them because of the perceived socio-economic boundaries that they couldn't identify with me, but were able to bond over with and feel a level of familiarity and comfort with other girls. I learned later as I grew older from my mother that this isolation was as reflective among the parents of all the Filipino classmates.

In high school, I was an 'instigator', only I did not get other people to join in isolating or singling people out with me, it was merely a passive and personal preference to no associate myself with certain Filipinos because of their lack of culture, social culture and activities. When I got older and entered my undergrad, my criteria for these judgements mellowed down and my care for it lessened because coming from a high school where 80% of the student body demographic was Filipino, I only knew or saw of at most 5 identifiable students of Filipino descent at my university campus.

TL;DR - my thought is that internalized racism happens because of colonial-produced culture, status and socio-economic circumstances that reflects upbringing and carrying over the level and importance of status within the family. I was brought up to care and not care at the same time.


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