CEBU

Briones: Who’s anti-Chinese?

On The Go

I don’t think I’m being less of a patriot by calling out some sectors that are using this opportunity to fan anti-Chinese sentiments.

Given that this 2019 novel coronavirus originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province doesn’t make it right for some people to rake up prejudices or single out one race.

I know what it’s like to be discriminated because of skin color or nationality, having lived in countries where Filipinos were and continue to be treated like second-class citizens.

Trust me, it’s not a nice feeling.

Don’t get me wrong. The treatment is not as obvious as the anti-Jewish policy of Nazi Germany or during the apartheid regime in South Africa, but it can still be psychologically debilitating.

In some instances, they might tolerate your presence but at the back of your mind you have this sinking feeling that something is amiss.

I remember finding myself as the only non-white person inside the Monroeville Mall in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during freshman year of college. My fraternity brother thought it was funny when everyone stared at me as I walked along the corridors, but the experience was far from hilarious.

Mind you, this was more than 25 years ago. I would like to think that things were different then. But apparently, some things never change.

People who are afraid, confused, uncertain, insecure, ignorant or just plain stupid will always look for scapegoats when they find themselves in the midst of a situation they have no control of.

It has happened many times over the course of history. So I shouldn’t be so naïve or be so surprised. I mean, I’ve read about the pogroms of Czarist Russia or the racial segregation in the United States, which lasted well into the early 1960s. But I thought we, Filipinos, would be different.

For more than 300 years, we lived under the yoke of Spanish rule where we were the Indios and the conquistadores were the Filipinos. We became strangers in our own land, forcibly cut off from our customs and practices.

Things were no different when the Americans bought the archipelago from Spain in the Treaty of Paris after the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century.

No matter what they taught us in school, there was no doubt that we were part of an American experiment to prove to the world that their brand of colonialism was more benign or benevolent. That they could do better than the Spanish, the French or even the British.

They even did a great job of brainwashing us into thinking that we were America’s “brown brothers.”

I bet you, if this novel coronavirus had originated in the US or any “white” country, people like so and so would not be raising such a big fuss.


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