Dear Filipino organizers erased by the Cesar Chavez movement,

Coming to America in the 1920s was no vacation. Filipinos were “American nationals,” the result of recent colonization, and ironically exempted from the exclusionary Immigration Act of 1924 that precluded the influx of immigrants from “Asiatic Barred Zones.” Saved from the tyranny of Spain, young Filipinos like you were swallowed by an America famished for cheap labor. From Alaska and Hawaii to the West Coast, Filipino men became the bent backbones and the calloused hands of the sunburnt fields, paid a few dollars for long hours of work. And America was not in the heart, not yours, as it was the high tide of anti-miscegenation laws that made it criminal for Filipinos to marry white women. By 1965 when the United Farm Workers was founded, many of you had been in the fields for decades, organizing strikes and making your voices heard in the muted plains.

We immigrants mark our historical presence in America by the names of heroes who gave us a voice, an anodyne to invisibility in a country where documented history keeps some and discards others. It took me a long time to fully grasp Filipino-American history. Like you, I’m an immigrant who began my American voyage in silence. My political education had many twists and turns. In my 20s, I spent my Sundays teaching English to Chinese sweatshop workers in Brooklyn, my first exposure to the complex nexus of immigrant workers’ rights and organizing. I would learn that self-empowerment was moot unless spoken in the language of the oppressor. The workers’ inability to communicate exacerbated their plight. Word by word, my adult students learned the language of the negotiating table, slowly gaining power to address their oppressive working conditions. Workers’ Rights as a Second Language: strategically similar to the organizing methodologies employed by farmworkers like you in the ‘40s and '50s.

I didn’t know about you when I started organizing in the '90s. I had role models, but no Filipino-Americans. In the community organizing world, no one ever mentioned Filipinos next to the apotheosized Cesar Chavez. No Larry Itliong. No Philip Vera Cruz. None of these Filipino men and their Agricultural Worker Organizing Committee that spearheaded the very strike that catapulted Cesar Chavez into American memory and left you in the shadows.

In the words of Philip Vera Cruz:

On September 8, 1965, at the Filipino Hall at 1457 Glenwood St. in Delano, the Filipino members of AWOC held a mass meeting to discuss and decide whether to strike or to accept the reduced wages proposed by the growers. The decision was “to strike” and it became one of the most significant and famous decisions ever made in the entire history of the farmworker struggles in California. It was like an incendiary bomb, exploding out the strike message to the workers in the vineyards, telling them to have sit-ins in the labor camps, and set up picket lines at every grower’s ranch… It was this strike that eventually made the UFW, the farmworkers movement, and Cesar Chavez famous worldwide.

Cesar Chavez has become a holiday, a stamp, a foundation, a national monument and a street and school in Delano. It is not surprising as the Latino community becomes a demographic force in the U.S. that 48 years later, a movie is being shown nationwide about the farmworkers movement, with Cesar Chavez at the romantic helm. Unfortunately, in the Hollywood version of historical dismissal, Filipino farmworkers are once again denied the proper recognition they deserve. In a recent appearance at UCLA, the director Diego Luna told a Chicano studies audience, “We have to send a message to the industry that our stories have to be represented. And with the depth and the complexity they deserve.”

Indeed, in the age of American ethnic diversity, it is all about representation, all about visibility – a spiritual mission to bring you, our fathers, back in the light. History might have worked in favor of Chavez in the past decades, but many Filipino Americans will do what it takes to put your names in the pages of American movements. A new documentary titled, Delano Manongs, interrogates the erasure of Filipinos from the farmworkers movement and presents the story from the point of view of the leader of the movement himself, Larry Itliong. In 2013, the New Haven Unified School District of Union City, CA renamed Alvarado Middle School Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School. Even a new generation of Filipino Americans on the East coast, the Pilipino American Unity for Progress (Unipro), has made your invisibility part of their discourse.

Sí, se puede: the motto of the farmworkers movement, in Spanish – a language many of you didn’t speak, as if to say the movement was not spoken by your blood. But Cesar Chavez also said that “once social change begins, it cannot be reversed … you cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore." Kaya Natin, we must say, We Can Do This. Kaya Natin: bring back your honor, bring back your light.

Kaya Natin,

Bino A. Realuyo


Repeal of anti-miscegenation laws by US state.

In the United States, anti-miscegenation laws (also known as miscegenation laws) were state laws passed by individual states to prohibit miscegenation, nowadays more commonly referred to as interracial marriage and interracial sex. Typically defining miscegenation as a felony, these laws prohibited the solemnization of weddings between persons of different races and prohibited the officiating of such ceremonies. Sometimes, the individuals attempting to marry would not be held guilty of miscegenation itself, but felony charges of adultery or fornication would be brought against them instead. All anti-miscegenation laws banned the marriage of whites and non-white groups, primarily blacks, but often also Native Americans and Asians.

Click on the link below to watch a wonderful new featurette on “Loving” which features previously unseen footage and comments from the director and cast….

The problem with the “the Supreme Court undermined all these voters!” argument is that it ignores what the Supreme Court’s job is. The Supreme Court is supposed to determine if legislation is constitutional or not.

Did eliminating segregation through Brown v. Board undermine the voting wishes of a majority of Southern voters? Certainly.

Did ruling anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia remove a long-standing set of laws that governed what marriage was “supposed” to be? Of course.

When Lawrence v. Texas overturned Bowers v. Hardwick, were there still thousands of people who agreed with the Bowers decision and thought that legalizing sodomy “cast aside millennia of moral teaching”? Definitely. But that’s the point of the Supreme Court.

You think this decision undermines democracy? Not Citizens United v. FEC? Not Burwell v. Hobby Lobby? THIS is the one you take issue with? Because it lets people get married? What, exactly, does your idea of “democracy” entail?

At the most abstract level, capital is colour-blind: surplus value produced by white labour is no different to that produced by black, and when racist laws interfere with the buying and selling of labour, as they ultimately did in the Jim Crow South, capitalists will tend to support the overturning of those laws. Yet when the demand for labour falls and the question arises of who must go without, workers can generally be relied upon to discover the requisite division amongst themselves, typically along lines of kinship, ethnicity, and race. Capitalists thus benefit from racism even if they don’t create it, for in periods of growth these divisions undermine any collective bargaining power that workers might otherwise be able to achieve. Historically, rigid racial hierarchies have been the work not of capital, but of the state - especially, though not exclusively, white-settler and other colonial states. State racism is epitomised by anti-miscegenation laws, which aim to realise racial difference by outlawing racial mixing; the nation-state became a racial state. During times of economic crisis, racial states could be counted on to intervene in labour markets - which contingently assign workers to the employed and the unemployed - in order to assign these determinations methodically, along racial lines.

In the mid-twentieth century this state-orchestrated project of race-making broke down at a global level. On the one hand, exposure of the Nazi genocide and the success of decolonisation movements de-legitimated explicit state racism. On the other, rapid post-war growth led to tight labour markets, reducing competition for jobs between racialised groups. This was thus an era of assimilation, evinced by the partial victories of the Civil Rights Movement. What put this process into reverse was the reassertion of capitalist crisis tendencies in the 1970’s. Falling profits led to a fall in the demand for labour. Recently achieved formal equality did nothing to stop real economic inequalities being reinforced by heightened competition for jobs. Here the state would find for itself a new race-making role, this time not as arbiter of legal separation, but rather as manager of racialised surplus populations.

—  Brown v. Ferguson - Endnotes

“I’d like to know who sits in an office somewhere and thinks of these laws. When you think…about the imposition of the creation of those laws, or the upholding of those laws, it takes so much energy! And it creates so much pain and anguish! You wonder why you would stand by those laws if you had any shred of human decency!“

–  Joel Edgerton on the anti-miscegenation laws which made it illegal for Richard and Mildred Loving to marry

WestAllen fic: That Mood Indigo (pt 3 of 4)

Title: The Mood Indigo
Rating: R
Pairing: WestAllen
Characters: Iris West, Barry Allen
Summary:  1940s au; Iris is a waitress and aspiring novelist, and Barry is her favourite customer. Anything else between them would be illegal. But in the face of overwhelming prejudice against her, Iris dares to dream, and write, and fall in love.

Notes: I was initially only planning three chapters, but then the fic spawned another so there will be a forth and final part after this one because apparently this version of Iris wont leave me alone.

CW:  one specific incident of racial abuse is described here, not physically violent, but ugly, involves spitting. (Also then there’s smut. The R rating is also for that.)

Part one here, part two here.


On their wedding night, two years later, Barry admits, stuttering and blushing, that, like Iris, he’s never done this before. He apologises, promises he’ll try to learn quick but, they don’t write much that’s helpful in books about this sort of thing.

He started reading the minute it became the anti-miscegenation laws in their state were going to be repealed – the minute he plucked up the courage to buy her a ring, to hope that they might, finally, be able to get married – which she teases him about for the next twenty years. But the point is, though he’s tried, he really has, to research the – correct – ways – he doesn’t know much more than the basic mechanics of the situation.

So she pulls her beautiful husband down next to her and promises him they’ll work it out together. And they do. Vigorously.

They’ve practised other forms of closeness, of course. Once or twice.

Keep reading

There’s a reason why Asian men in television and film are portrayed as sexually awkward and emasculate… and it has a lot to do with this picture.

In the early 1900’s, a massive wave of Filipino men (aka, Manongs) immigrated to California to work on farms, canning factories, and fishing boats. The pay was shit but the allure of owning a home in America was too tantalizing to pass up. Since Filipina women were prohibited from immigrating with men, towns all around California quickly filled up with single, sweaty, and good lookin’ Filipino men.

These Manilatowns were packed to the brim with stylish Filipino bachelors who spent their money on new suits and their time at taxi dance halls‪#‎AmericasFirstFuckboys‬ ‪#‎JustKidding‬ ‪#‎SorryGrandpa‬

Taxi dance halls were immensely popular among Filipino bachelors which provided both entertainment and sexual attention. For only ten cents, Filipino men could dance with first-generation European immigrant women, show off their outfits of the day, and romance their way to secret relationships that were illegal under anti-miscegenation laws.

Despite racist laws, these interracial relationships continued to blossom and included relationships between Filipino men and Italians, Irish, Mexicans, and Black women.

Word spread about the Manongs and white men were (for lack of a better term) TRIGGERED AS FUCK:

“Some of these [Filipino] boys, with perfect candor, told me bluntly and boastfully that they practice the art of love with more perfection than white boys, and occasionally one of the [white] girls has supplied me with information to the same effect.”

The reality of Filipino men – who were seen as small, weak, and inferior to white American men – falling in love with white women become such a problem that mobs of masked white men started to raid, brutalize, and even kill the Manongs. Many of their assaults were directed at Filipino men’s groins:

“Another man, the one called Jake, tied me to a tree. Then he started beating me with his fists… A tooth fell out of my mouth, and blood trickled down my shirt. The man called Lester grabbed my testicles with his left hand and smashed them with his right fist. The pain was so swift and searing.”

So the next time you hear one of those bullshit stereotypes about Asian men, look back in American history and ask yourself, “WHY was America so obsessed with emasculating Asian men?” or “Why do they constantly talk about Asian men’s penises?” You’ll quickly realize that it has nothing to do with stereotypes being true or false, and everything to do with white male insecurity.


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