"If I am not a "Person of Color" -- and by the accepted definition, I am not -- then what am I?
Am I clear?
Or am I invisible?
When I hold a piece of white paper up to my skin, it is obvious to me that I am not white. Just as black is not black. Red is not red. Yellow is not yellow.
So, again, I ask you, What am I?
I cannot ask what "colour" I am because, as the definition stands, I am a "Non-Person of Colour."
A Non-Person of No-Colour.
I do not exist.
And if I do not exist, I cannot participate in the Revolution."
My response was as follows
I am sentimental to your thoughts.
When looking into Freire's teachings and thinking about the thought of us all being bound by the same liberation(s), I question how this is possible when each individual has multiple oppressions in their lives, ones that are made by a single person, or by a group or even oppressions that are made onto themselves by themselves. How can we in this way, be truly bound to the same liberation?
I must confess, there was a period in my own life, where by the circumstances of my reality, and also with learning about the oppressions of the Filipino people in the United States and how my parents and my grandparents were affected and continue to be affected, while doing everything in their power to keep us from being similarly affected, I found myself fueling an anger in my heart for the struggles of "my people," my family, my Kababayan.
And the term "People of Color" was an identifier for myself of these struggles and became the recognition of the similar oppressions shared with those of "ethnic", immigrant backgrounds, who suffered the effects of racism and hatred, creating in myself the "Us/ Them" mentality that can often be carried with this term. So I confess for myself, that the term "People of Color" has historically created a divide, and in reflection continues to create a divide today. I recognize the anger that I may have felt and I confess that in my mind I may have thought in initial reaction that a white person could NEVER understand what it means to be a "Person of Color" in this context.
But now in this moment and after building this community beside you, as we work to learn from each other, I know that we can try to make each other understand. And we can begin to build movements toward creating new terminologies or rethinking past terminologies to find identification with together, as I see you attempting to do by your words.
Even within the scheme of those who identified as "People of Color" in past histories there has been hate and racism, for instance the LA riots can be a very great example of this, Asian and Black communities who identified similarly turned against one another and divided themselves up into smaller groupings. Asian and Black communities creating "Us/ Them" mentalities, and in my home town of Stockton ,CA, I saw that within the Asian communities I saw as Khmer and Pinoy gangs were killing one another on the streets. The divides continue up to two individuals against one another and can result with a single person who is in a struggle with themselves.
For myself, from having dialogue in this class room, and from seeking to work toward creating less hate amongst our communities, our brothers and sisters, our friends, and less hate amongst each other as mere human beings, I seek to understand the structures of these oppressions and what we must do to allow for some who was once a "Them" in our mentality become apart of the "Us". It just is not easy.
The way you speak of the term "People of Color" and how you wish to identify with it, is in my mind completely valid, however I hope you also understand why it has been and may continue to be difficult to compromise this identifier because of the history and the significance that it holds. So, although I know you will never understand the term "People of Color" in the way it has empowered and allowed me to know and be proud of not only myself, but also of my Mother and Father, my Grandparents and the brothers and sisters of my Filipino Heritage here in the US, how this term has helped me to know where I have come from and thus where I am going. I understand the way you see the term "People of Color" and I realize your struggle to remove the "Us/Them" mentality that can be associated to it.
I recognize the color of your skin, yes, but its is not merely a notion of the color of our skin and you are not transparent, but it is not merely the color of our skin that has been associated to this term, it is the color of our struggle.
I thank you for trying to create progression and attempting to find a way of connection through identifying yourself with "People of Color", but please understand why it is a difficult process that I confess for myself is not something that I am personally able to fully let go of and create new meaning for at this time.
In much respect, I just wanted to let you know my feelings toward this.
Everyday I am rediscovering in myself, the way I see the world and how I will play the role of a teacher in it. I now, more than ever know that, that is what I will give my life to.
The other day someone asked that is there anything in your life that you are willing to die for. My response to that is, "No, but I am willing to GIVE MY LIFE fully, my heart, my soul, my existence to working toward spreading the education, awareness and love for human beings."
"In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of the world would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest responsibility anyone could have."
- Lee Iacocca