A group of Filipin@ kids stood outside Little Manila Center in Stockton, California, confused and angry. A place they and many Filipin@s in Stockton call home was just vandalized — posters of Filipin@ figures torn apart and words like “white property” painted on the windows.
It was a heartbreaking sight for many, including those who live outside of Stockton. The Little Manila Center is a place of learning and healing for many Filipin@-Americans. To see it targeted with such intention doesn’t just feel like an attack on a building — it’s an attack on Filipin@s.
What hurt the most is that our youngest students were the first to see banners that said terms like “heritage” and “empowerment” crumpled on the ground.
— Brian Batugo, Little Manila Foundation Board Vice-Chairperson
While officials haven’t declared it a hate crime, let’s get one thing right: this was an act of hate towards Filipin@s. It is no coincidence that out of all the buildings in the street, the Little Manila Center was targeted. It is no coincidence that during Filipino American History Month, the Little Manila Center was targeted. It is no coincidence that at a time we have a President who called Filipin@s terrorists and animals, the Little Manila Center was targeted.
My child asked me: “Daddy, what’s a hate crime?” As a parent, you want to say that it’s a better world for Filipinos. But it’s not. This is a time to wake up: we do not live in a post-racial society. There are still people out there who are Anti-Filipino.
— Dillon Delvo, Little Manila Foundation Co-Founder & Executive Director
This isn’t to cause panic or fear. This is to wake up from the myth that all will be well if we Filipinos just mind our own business and adhere to the idea of Filipinos being a model minority. Wake up. This is happening now, and it isn’t new.
As we celebrate Filipino American History Month this October, we know that discrimination against Filipino Americans is nothing new. The street our Little Manila Center is on is Main St. in downtown Stockton which was the dividing line for people of color in this city in the 1920s and 1930s. People of color were not welcomed north of Main St. and signs saying “Positively no Filipinos allowed” were displayed openly. It was illegal for Filipino men to marry White women in California. Later on, state and local officials would decide to destroy the Little Manila and Chinatown neighborhood by the building of the Crosstown Freeway.
– Little Manila Foundation
Now more than ever, we need to have each others’ backs. Some things you can keep in mind and commit to throughout the remainder of Filipino American History Month and beyond:
- Donate to the Little Manila Foundation to help them repair what was vandalized.
- Speak up in times of injustice or problematic conversations. That includes speaking up to people we care about, our family, and our close friends when you hear problematic statements and ideas about our community or other communities of color.
- Be proud and celebrate your experiences. Serve as a light to the younger generation.
- Understand the history of Filipino-Americans in this country, INCLUDING the painful ones.
While this is an unfortunate circumstance some of us are hearing about Little Manila Foundation for the first time, I am glad that it is a time our resilience is brought to light and it’s at times like these are when we show that we truly fall together and rise together, isang bagsak.
I am absolutely inspired of all the people especially the youth who are speaking up and organizing to raise awareness about the Little Manila Center.
— big uWu energy (@shayennexocampo) October 10, 2017
It’s heartwarming to see the Filipinx community come together. Don’t underestimate the power of Isang Bagsak. #LITTLEMANILASTRONG
To donate to the Little Manila Foundation, click here.
Conrad is Kubo’s Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer. Follow Conrad on Twitter @conradc.