This is a talk I gave to the Filipino Women’s Club of Salinas last year on September 9th. I spoke about the racially motivated shootings that have been brought to national attention along with the response of the Black Lives Matter movement. My goal was to bring awareness to my community and to start a conversation about this national issue. Before speaking to the women, I was aware of the prejudice some Filipinos have as a minority group who experience less severe racial prejudice. After the talk, many expressed their support, but those who expressed their disagreement were the more powerful voices. Their responses reassured me that having this conversation is important. Although this was months ago (and Black History Month was last month), it is topically relevant especially for those taking Peace and Justice since we are currently reading Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s Strength to Love and are discussing racial justice.
Thank you for letting me come and speak to you all. Hello, I’m Taylor Moises. My mom, Vivian Moises, is a member of the this club and I have attended some meetings before. I requested to talk to you all today about the police shootings of African Americans that have been occurring across America and the Black Lives Matter Movement that has grown in response to the shootings.
Many, if not all of you, are probably asking a few questions in your head right now: why am I, a Filipino-American teenager from Salinas, concerning myself with this issue? Why am I here speaking with this club for Filipino Women about the Black Lives Matter movement?
Basically, What does this have to do with me or you?
It’s logical to be weary or confused as to my motives to speak here today, but I ask you please listen to what I have to say with open-minds and empathetic hearts.
Before I go any further I would like to stress that this is a complicated issue and there is no simple black and white answer. Also, being pro-black lives is NOT an opposing view to being pro-cop. I have relatives who are cops and relatives who are black. I do not support cops who unjustly shoot people but I do not want them shot down either. I want fair trials for policemen.
Within the past few years racially-motivated shootings have been brought to national attention. I don’t know how closely you have been following them, but if you’re like me, you might remember having heard vaguely of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and, more recently, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. It was the last two shootings of the men I just mentioned, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, that sparked a need in me to investigate this national concern.
Just to refresh your memories or explain to those who have not heard about them, earlier this summer in Louisiana, two White police officers killed a Black man named Alton Sterling while he sold CDs on the street. The very next day in Minnesota, a police officer shot and killed a Black man named Philando Castile in his car during a traffic stop while his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter looked on. The shootings were recorded and published to the public.
After watching the videos of both shootings, I was brought to tears because I was witnessing injustice that I could not and cannot tolerate.
I immediately began researching what I could do to show my support to the victims and their families. This led to researching more on the Black Lives Matter movement, past police shootings, research done on racial profiling, and examining collected data to become familiarized enough to make educated responses to the events. I wanted to find the most beneficial way for me to actually make a difference.
My goal is reasonable. I decided a good place to start is in my own community of my city, Salinas, and my community of Filipino women. I want to spread awareness of this national issue of racially motivated shootings. And while there is the argument that most of the shootings are not racially motivated or we don’t have a problem of police shootings, discrimination and racism is still a problem throughout our country. I am here today to inform you all of this national concern and to make our Filipino community in Salinas aware of the racism that we can unknowingly take part in.
This year, American police have already killed more than 600 people. Of those, 25% have been Black, even though Black people make up only 13% of the population. Overwhelmingly, the police do not face any consequences for ending these lives.
Even as we hear about the dangers Black Americans face, our instinct is sometimes to point at all the ways we are different from them. To shield ourselves from their reality instead of empathizing. When a policeman shoots a Black person, you might think it’s the victim’s fault because you see so many images of them in the media as thugs and criminals. After all, you might say, we managed to come to America with nothing and build good lives for ourselves despite discrimination, so why can’t they?
It’s true that we can face discrimination for being Filipino in this country. Sometimes people are rude to us about accents, or withhold promotions because they don’t think of us as “leadership material.” But for the most part, nobody thinks “dangerous criminal” when we are walking down the street. The police do not gun down our children and parents for simply existing.
Many Black people were brought to America as slaves against their will. For centuries, their communities, families, and bodies were ripped apart for profit. Even after slavery, they had to build back their lives by themselves, with no institutional support—not allowed to vote or own homes, and constantly under threat of violence that continues to this day.
In fighting for their own rights, Black activists have led the movement for opportunities not just for themselves, but for us as well.
For all of these reasons, I support the Black Lives Matter movement – The movement made after Trayvon Martin’s trial which resulted in his killer not being held accountable for the crime “in response to the anti-black racism that permeates our society.” Part of that support means speaking up when I see people in my community—or even my own family—say or do things that diminish the humanity of Black Americans in this country. I’m asking that you try to empathize with the anger and grief of the fathers, mothers, and children who have lost their loved ones to police violence.
Recognizing that racism and racially motivated shootings are issues is the first step. Thinking before saying things that may not mean to be hurtful, but could be interpreted that way, is also good to practice. I am not accusing any of you of being racist but I would like to address the inherent belief of certain people being inferior due to their skin tone. This still pervades today, even if does not stand out as it did fifty years ago.
Just because you are not prejudiced on purpose, does not make you immune to being racist.
Some people are prejudiced because they are evil, and some people are prejudiced because they don’t know better yet.
Saying racial stereotypes or using racial slurs is unacceptable in any form and is a form of racism.
It is important that we do not diminish the Black Lives Matter movement because we are equally capable of being both oppressors and allies. “We’re all susceptible to internalizing anti-Blackness, but we are not holding ourselves accountable when we pretend that white supremacy is the sole reason for our faults.”
Saying “All Lives Matter” undermines the Black Lives Matter movement.
BLM does not mean other people’s lives don’t matter; it does not mean black people are superior. The movement is to recognize that black people are being deprived of basic human rights. It is not to say “black lives are more important than other lives, or that other lives are not criminalized and oppressed in various ways.”
I believe our Filipino Women’s Community is a great community to be a part of and I simply wanted to share my concerns with you and to hopefully bring awareness to this issue that I care deeply about. As I mentioned before, this is not a simple problem with a simple solution. After doing more research, less shootings seem intentionally racially-motivated but the national attention to them has brought the talk of racial justice back to the table and I do not want our community to be left unknowledgeable of this inequality. According to the 2000 US Census, there are .61 more Filipinos (3.88%) than African Americans (3.27%) in Salinas. We are both minorities whose voices deserve to be heard and should not be discriminated against or fear our justice system.
Thank you, again, for letting me speak to you today and I hope this has covered a topic you deem has significant importance. There are different ways to take action in this movement, but being educated on the matter and then being aware of it is the most crucial aspect. Thank you and please have a lovely weekend.