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Understanding Black Lives Matter movement from the Filipino-American perspective

On May 25 2020, African-American George Floyd died at the knee of a white police officer trying to arrest him for using an alleged counterfeit $20 bill. The incident that lasted 8 minutes and 46 seconds was captured in a cellphone video, by a bystander. And once released on social media, put a spotlight on decades-old problems of place brutality, racial inequality, and systemic racism, among others.

Notwithstanding the threat of coronavirus, people took to the streets in major U.S. cities and around the globe, to protest, under the predominant cry of #blacklivesmatter

In this show, lifelong Filipino activist and retired professor Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough, talks us through the issues, to help us understand and take a stand –

In segment 1 – We discuss the backstory/history/herstory – We are Filipinos. We have our own issues. Just recently, we were faced with a fight against #Xenophobia. Now with this black lives matter – Should we take on this as our fight? Or should we stand in solidarity? Or should we push for allyship?

Professor Ojeda-Kimbrough talks about issues specific to Filipinos in America – immigration and family reunification are foremost of them. She mentioned that Covid-19 has also added to community issues since most Filipinos work on the frontlines as medical staff, caregivers, maintenance crews, and other essential staff. Nonetheless, the professor says the Black community’s fight is also our fight because we are fighting against the same social injustices – racism and police brutality.

She says “solidarity” and “allyship” are often used interchangeably; but “ally ship” mostly refers to members of White America who support BLM and anti-racism. With this said, Ojeda-Kimbrough cautions everyone who wants to show up in the arena, to engage the brain before operating the mouth. She asserts that learning about Black history is crucial to understanding current events and mapping out a strategy for the future.

In segment 2 – We discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s response to the protests of sending out the military and National Guards. And compare this tactic to the Martial Law that former dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared in the Philippines during his regime.

Prof. Ojeda-Kimbrough points out that increased militarization is another form of distraction being used by Trump administration. The main issue, as most American historians, politicians, civil leaders have pointed out: lies in the lack of leadership during a global pandemic.

Prof. Ojeda-Kimbrough candidly explains how she thinks this may be a move to hijack the November 2020 election.

In segment 3 – Prof. Ojeda-Kimbrough suggests things the community can do and starts with a quote from Martin Luther King – “Riots is the Voice of the Unheard.” She says joining peaceful protests is one thing.

And cautions that before we pass judgment on violent and aggressive demonstrators, we have to remember what a Philippine national artist said in his poem, on the repression of the Filipinos by the Spanish colonizers:

“Kung Tuyo na Ang Luha Mo Inang Bayan”
(When your tears have dried, My country)

May araw ding ang luha mo’y masasaid, matutuyo,
(There will come a day when your tears will dry up)

May araw ding di na luha sa mata mong namumugto
(There will come a day when your eyes will swell because of the tears)

Ang dadaloy, kundi apoy, at apoy na kulay dugo,
(What will flow, if not fire, will be fire that is the same color as blood)

Samantalang ang dugo mo ay aserong kumukulo;
(While your blood will boil like steel)

Sisigaw kang buong giting sa liyab ng libong sulo
(You will scream in the flames of your cries)

At ang lumang tanikala’y lalagutin mo ng punglo!
(And you will break the folds and old chains)

In ending, the professor reminds us that we need to start with ourselves – Educate! Read books. Watch videos and engage in dialogue. And a reminder that another way to effect change is by voting.

In segment 4 – We remind viewers that despite all that’s happening in the world, we should not forget that we are still in the middle of fighting a deadly global pandemic. MJ Garcia Dia, President-elect of Philippine Nurses Association of America, talks about the work that nurses are continuing to do and shares some reminders for the community.

As we continue to shelter in place – we aim to share relevant and accurate information and tools to help the public manage during this time of global pandemic.

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