To the editors:
I was amazed at the almost cavalier media observations of Mr. Michael Miner [Hot Type] in your September 11 issue (vol. 21, no. 49) about racism in the Filipino American community. A racist story was told in an issue of a Filipino American publication. When Mr. Rey Lopez, a Filipino American, protested the racism of his own people, Ms. Lee Maglaya, a Filipino American and a newspaper columnist, protested in turn anyone of her community who might call another on his or her racism. At that point your media commentator leapt in, accusing Mr. Lopez of "hyperfastidious carping."
Ms. Maglaya is a would-be political candidate, having run for state office not too many years ago. It is, therefore, very curious to find this quick defense of this would-be politician, especially when the media, including the press, immediately, mercilessly, and unrelentingly attacked another would-be politician, Reverend Jesse Jackson, for his racist comments (and despite subsequent apologies has not let him forget those comments to this very day).
The media in recent years seems to have become blind to the racism in our society except for that of African Americans. European American police officers in Los Angeles brutally beat an African American, are videotaped in the process, and then are acquitted by a judge and jury, and no official or reporter admits that is racist. When the same prosecuting attorney refuses to allow an African American judge to preside at a case of African Americans who were videotaped beating a European American truck driver because the judge must be racist, again the media report but make no protest, thereby validating the position of the prosecutors. A suburban jury, we were told, can not be found to be racist, but an African American judge must be presumed to be racist. An African American politician must be racist, but a politician of no other group may be.
We have a curious, unwritten law in our land, about which the media have been so silent as to become its coconspirators. The law is insidiously simple: only African Americans may now be accused of racism; no one else may be accused of this crime.
Racism, as a social disease, originated among European and European American societies. To the extent it exists in any other culture or subculture, that comes from exposure (usually colonial or enslaving) to Europeans/European Americans. Where do you suppose Asian Americans learned their racism in general, or even this scurrilous particular?
Not long ago, but before the unwritten law took effect, had any European American publicly suggested--seriously or in joke--that those with dark skins are monkeylike, that person would have been openly accused of racism. No one, save a few far right reactionaries, would have disagreed. No one would have attempted to defend the accused. Everyone would have expected at least an apology. Now to call anyone on her or his racism is deemed offensive, unless, of course, you are accusing an African American.
It seems to me that you owe Mr. Lopez a profound apology. It seems to me that you need to take a crash course on racism in the 90s. It seems to me that you need to hold Ms. Maglaya, her newspaper the Via Times, Ms. Lourdes G. Mon, its senior editor and the originator of the racist story in print, accountable for their racism. And finally, it seems to me that you need to make a promise in print never again to be partners to racism, no matter where it originates.