The following is a press release from Filipino Americans for Racial Action.
October is Filipino-American history month. It commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in continental United States. According to the Filipino American National History Society (FANHSO), this commemoration was first introduced in the community in 1992. In 2019, the US Congress passed a resolution to express support for the celebration of “the history and culture of Filipino Americans and their immense contributions to the United States.”
Despite the long standing history between the two countries, many Filipinos continue to experience racism and hate crimes.
Last year, Anti-Asian violence made headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was further aggregated by former President Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric against Asian Americans. According to a Pew Research survey in April 2021, 32% of adult Asians experience fear, anxiety, and loss of sense of security as xenophobic and racists incidents increases.
Just recently, a Filipino woman who was distributing face masks to fellow passengers on board the subway was suddenly attacked by two individuals while screaming racial slurs at her. Meanwhile at the Upper West Side, a Filipino stage actor was assaulted while on the way to his apartment.
Filipino Americans based in New York City have come together to call for an end to hate crimes happening around the city. As a response, the Fil-Am community, headed by lawyer Lara Gregory, launched Filipino Americans for Racial Action or FARA, an organization empowering the minority to come together, be seen, be heard, and rise above the challenges of hate crimes.
Through FARA, she hopes to offer a safe space where the racial assault victims, and other stakeholders – particularly, Filipino Americans – can freely share their stories without prejudice. The organization also serves as an institution that champions legislative changes and racial unity, as well as eradicates cultural ignorance through education and pertinent facts about the community.
Atty. Gregory is an immigration lawyer and community activist who is at the forefront of fighting Anti-Asian hate by implementing her extensive international legal experience and in defending the vulnerable individuals of minor communities. She believes that everyone should speak up because the local government has resources to help those who are impacted by the brutal attacks. “If you remain silent, nothing will change,” said Gregory.
“There are a lot of resources and protection, so there’s no reason to be silent. We need to come together because regardless of our differences in faith, color, race or ethnicity, we are united in wanting the health of our community and the flourishing of the city. Because when the city flourish, the people also flourish.” she added.
In a recent virtual event, letting one’s voice be heard was further emphasized by two esteemed panelists, and racial progress activists: founding member of the Filipino Americans for Racial Action and behavioral psychiatrist, Dr. Romulo Aromin, and licensed psychologist Dr. Lirio Sobrevinas-Covey. During the roundtable discussion, they shared significant insights about the cruelties of anti-Asian hate crimes, as well as the danger of the myth that is the “model minority”.
Dr. Aromin pointed out how hate crimes are deeply rooted in the lack of cultural sensitivity. “The problem lies in not knowing the culture of others,” he said. While Dr. Lirio mentioned how Asians are not regarded as the first level of social class in the US, she said, “what’s common to hate crimes is that the victim is seen as inferior.” For these reasons, FARA is determined to proactively terminate cultural ignorance by becoming more than an institution but a community that offers people of different minority groups a space where they can exchange culture, history, and heritage without fears and prejudices.
Through FARA, there is now hope that no doors of humanity will be shut closed because the organization aims to build trust and confidence so that the people can move forward and stand up against the ongoing atrocities towards the Asian community. You can learn more about the work that they do through their website. – Rappler.com