Sunday, July 21, 2013

rac·ism noun \ˈrā-ˌsi-zəm also -ˌshi-\

Definition of RACISM

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination
Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism

So there. We cannot deny that in this modern world where everyone claims equality across all races, racism still exists.

Does having dark skin make you less of a person?

It annoys me to be treated as "substandard" just because I am not a patron of skin whitening products. Let me share my experiences with you.

I was at a shopping mall. Since it was just 2 kilometers away, I opted to go there in my usual comfy attire - denim shorts, a t-shirt and my flip flops. (That is acceptable attire in a tropical country). I was in the homemaker section, window shopping for kitchen gadgets, griddle pans and washcloths. To my dismay, I noticed I was being followed around by store security. With every turn in the aisle, that man was there, giving me "the eye." On the far end of the homemaker section were a group of noisy, fair skinned women, speaking in gibberish. The tall wine glasses on display were at risk of falling off the shelves because of these undisciplined individuals. But the store security were more concerned following the ordinary looking, brown skinned people. Why is that?  Was I being profiled as a shoplifter? Does having brown skin make me look poor?

I was riding the MRT to work. Since it was "dress down day," I was in my usual denims, sneakers, shirt and a light jacket. My backpack was slung over one shoulder. As usual, the train was jampacked, so I chose to board the "Female Only" part of the train. I was standing shoulder to shoulder with a woman in a pretty dress. She was fair skinned (thanks to whitening products) and had light brown hair (thanks to hair dye). She had a leather bag (or fake leather, whatever) to which she clung to tightly. She was in no way a mestiza (or half breed) because her nose was a give away. She was snub nosed like me. When the train made a stop at the next station, the driver slammed on the brake a little too hard and I accidentally leaned on the pretty fair skinned lady. She nudged me, although it was really a push, to stop me from leaning on her. I apologized but she glared at me, said some not so nice words to me. 

I tried to suppress my anger but it got the better side of me. I just said "I'm sorry if I messed up your attire. Did I rub off some of your 50 layer foundation? I feel so sorry that my P3000 backpack hit you, I hope my bag did not get scratched. Oh, and sorry that I almost stepped on you. Your feet are not worth the sole of my P8,500 running shoes. I'm so sorry...Oh, and by the way, clothes do not make a person. Attitude does."

The society nowadays favors lighter skinned individuals. This is a fact. Try job-hunting.

Education is not a factor anymore. The physical attributes work more of an advantage in landing a job. There are height and weight requirements, skin color, ethnicity, complexion (no pimples). Your Summa cum Laude award is not a guarantee if you're short, fat, and dark. I am not saying that fair skinned Filipinos are dumb, its just not fair game.

Employees manning the Tourism industry are not representative of the Filipino anymore. Most are half breeds, and it is a fact that in order for somebody to get a job as a hotel receptionist, maitre d', or ground crew personnel, etc. you HAVE to be fair skinned. I would assume that that requirement extends in schools offering tourism courses.

Now, let us check on the nurses. Graduates of Nursing schools get better offers in tertiary hospitals if they are tall, pretty and fair. If they do not have any of those qualifications, they end up in local clinics, government hospitals or primary care establishments where salary is dirt cheap and work conditions are just unbearable. Worst case scenario - the "Brain Drain" where the best leave the country to share their expertise in a foreign country.

What about policitians? All bleached? Yes. Men and Women. Remember how Nancy Binay was bashed for her dark skin? The tirades on her person was mainly because of her skin color. Prejudice and all its ugliness came forth. 

Commercial establishments are not spared. Have you ever seen a dark skinned sales attendant? The darker ones are those doing the job in an office, far away from the prying eyes of the purchasing public.

Reality shows are now downright disgusting. So what if you have talent? You may have the best singing voice but if you look "ethnic," then expect to lose. Some half breed with no talent at all will win. How many dark skinned singers made it big locally? They would rather leave and share their talent abroad. The likes of Anne Curtis, Daniel Padilla and their clones are favored over the real talents of Bituin Escalante, Aiza Seguerra and Ella Mae Sayson. Jinky Pacquiao was a good looking girl from Mindanao.. until she bleached her skin, got a nose job and body sculpt. For what reason? I don't know. Probably to blend in with the crowd at Madison Square Garden whenever her husband Manny has a boxing match. Regine Velasquez did not need to have her skin bleached. She was pretty enough to make it big in show business. She had the talent. Why the change? 

What a shame.

Photo courtesy of http://youmakeitbetter.net









We are descendants of the Malay race, thriving off the waters of the Great Pacific Ocean. Our forefathers tamed the land, spent hours in the fields growing rice. Some were fishermen, spending their lives at sea in their little boats from dawn till the sun was high in the sky. They were not light skinned. If they were, then our race would have died out long ago because of skin cancer. 

We have been colonized by the Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Americans, Europeans, and other cultures, thus the diversity of our physical characteristics. Our culture evolved from hundreds of years of adapting to change, carving our own niche in this world, being and doing what is to be called "Filipino." We have imbibed bits and pieces of the different colonizing cultures and emerged distinct and unique. We are a race with round and somewhat chinky eyes, brown skinned, average height, snub nosed, full lips and dark hair. Our appearance is brought about by natural selection. We live in the tropics. We are supposed to look this way. We were not designed to live in places with harsh winters. What we have is sun, sun and sun all year round. 
I am not out to malign the "bleachers." Its their choice. Its their money. I only want to make a point here that skin color is not a factor to get ahead. Scrap the physical characteristics as a factor in job placement. There are other facets worth looking at - attitude, motivation, patience and dedication. 

I am a true Filipino. Kayumanggi, moreno, or negrito. Call me whatever you what to call me. I am unique. I love the sun and the sea. I am not a second class citizen of this country. 

I have one other thing that I can be proud of. I have more melanin than you, and I'm not selling. 

:)


35 comments:

  1. sisterretee!!!!!!!!!! this is worth sharing to the rest of the world....my hands are itching to share your blog already!!!!!!! go girl...keep writing!!!!!! you have a GIFT!!! I sound like a broken record...sigh...goose bumps here as I was scrolling...you definitely are a no non-sense writer! and I will always be a FAN!! :)

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  2. wow! This is really deep. Nice bit of info and writing! I'm a filipino too and think ... awesome!

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  3. Whenever I read your posts, it touches my heart. It's a shame that a lot of us are still racists. How can people be so dumb and extroverted?

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  4. It is sad to me that prejudice and discrimination exists, whether it be rgarding skin color, weight, "handicap" or anything else. I dream of a society where everyone just accepts everyone else. If we were all the same life would be awfully boring.

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  5. What a great post! I'm so glad I found your blog!

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  6. It's so interesting to hear thoughts from your end of the world. I always wished I would be darker skinned because I was the only white person I knew growing up. I also felt the racism and it stung every day of my childhood up until my adulthood, when I learned to cherish and love my ancestry. Love your blog, every day a little more.

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  7. This is a fantastic post. I think everyone in some form or another gets discriminated against. It is disgusting to me that this happens but the only thing we can do is become more accepting and tolerant of others and hope that society will change.

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  8. Great information to share! Acceptance and diversity is so important!

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  9. It breaks my heart that people are still dealing with racism. I hope my daughter's generation will be much different!

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  10. very well stated sis. racist is really a shame. huh!

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  11. Very well said. It's very sad that people rely so much on physical appearance.

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  12. Over here, our skin is kinaiingitan. They pay money to get tan but dyan sa tin, sad to say that if di ka maputi, di kagandahan ang tingin sayo ng karamihan.

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  13. So touching naman ang view mo. So what if i have an oak brown skin..pogi naman ako. Kidding aside, to hell with those people who look at other people as if mga crayon sila. Sapakin ko pa sila.

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  14. I agree also that color should not be basis in hiring people, this makes people spend more on whitening products than their basic needs

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    1. So many factors can affect hiring. It's too bad really that people don't think fair is right, but often that's not really the case. Here I think it's easier to get a great job if you know someone. I don't think that's always fair either.

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  15. I have brown complexity and I'm proud of it! ^_^

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  16. I love that you own who you are. You should be proud of who you are.

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  17. WOW! We always think about racism in the United States, but never in other countries. Thank you for sharing.

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  18. I wonder who died and made some of these people god....those people who seem to think their opinions matter than anyone else. Racism, classism and so many other isms exist and it is annoying as hell

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  19. Your post really touched my heart. So wonderfully written. I wish people would just love each other.

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  20. Nobody should be treated differently because of skin color and hair. My kids are the fair skin ones in a school of dark skin hispanics and native americans and sometimes feel out of place.

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  21. I believe in equality. Racism totally disgusts me but hate it when people pull the race card and falsely accuse others of being racist when they are not!

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  22. Well written hun and I totally agree our society discriminates so much and it saddens me x

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  23. I think this applies to wherever you are in the world. People will always favor those who have fairer skin or those who "look better". It is not just racism but also discrimination. It's such a shame, really.

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  24. That is so horrible! Everyone is the same and should be treated equal. Just because people are a different skin color doesn’t make them different from another human being.

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  25. I guess I'm naive because I didn't realize that people used whitening products to lighten their complexion. That's really sad they feel a need to do that.

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  26. love this post so deep and so true and should be shared everywhere

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  27. I think that perhaps, just as much as you hate how you have been stereotyped, you are guilty of it as well? It's not everyone white or fair skinned who looks down on brown skinned people. Sometimes, its the brown skinned one who is even worse. I would say just be proud of your skin color without going toe to toe with people who are narrow minded.

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    1. I'm morena or brown skinned and I get what you're staying about looking down at someone darker than me. Call it "misery loves company" state of mind. That thinking would not exist if we were not given the same treatment by others. Taking the high road is the way to go but it's not easy to accept especially if you live in North America or Europe. There is such as phrase in America called "shopping while black or brown". Google or check it out on Youtube. I get the treatment when I go to the supermarket, maybe not as overt as some people get it, but still obvious. I'm tired of it and look forward to the day I'm back in Manila after my kids are grown. On the other hand, its disheartening to hear that my own country has the same mentality. Times have not changed. I was teased by schoolmates back then. Like the author has said, brown is our natural color, why do we need to hide it instead of embracing it?

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  28. I hate that racism still exists in our world today! Good for you for standing up for yourself!

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  29. This was so deep! As a society we must keep improving before is too late

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  30. It's horrible that racism exists in any country!

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  31. I agree that color should not be basis to hire people, so sad to hear that happens there!

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  32. This is really a great post. I don't know what comes to all the racist's mind but racist is a shame.

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  33. It is sad that people are judged by their skin color.

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