I re-post this as I watch the CNN news coverage on the passage of Amendment 1 in North Carolina and President Obama’s favorable open support for same-sex marriage. I am moved by the value of this moment in the overall arc of social justice. With equal intensity, I find myself troubled by the retrograde character of Right-wing thought, shaking my head in wonder how and why there remain people who willfully hold on to bigoted, uncaring views.
As I read euphoria on Facebook, twitter, and, funny enough, even google+, I agree that this day is historic, as historic as the day when the first Black President of the US was sworn into office, when the Affordable Care Act was passed, and when Filipino WWII veterans could finally collect some of their service-connected benefits previously denied by Public Law 70-301, known as the Rescission Act of 1946 (see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/macarthur/sfeature/bataan_filipino.html).
As the late Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice” — and this idea rings true today. When life teaches me basic truths about being human, I cannot help but hear and see better. When there are observable examples of how to be a champion for what is righteous, for what is just, I cannot help but be inspired..
In an election year when ‘big, sudden movements’ are discouraged for the political risks they may bring to a candidate, Pres. Obama courageously embraced a position that is righteous and that is just. These words–righteous, just–are often taken for granted, even misused; but today, the courage of the first Black President in the most powerful country in the world exemplifies their true meaning.
What drives me to extoll moments as wild as this is my core belief that equality is not a unicorn of social science, but a plausible fixture of humanity.
The arc of the universe bends toward justice, indeed. As an immigrant and a social worker, I am fundamentally moved by progress in widening civil rights. And it is not the ‘victim mentality’ that shapes my lens to the world for I truly do not see my self a victim. What drives me to extoll moments as wild as this is my core belief that equality is not a unicorn of social science, but a plausible fixture of humanity.
It is equality that demonstrates, illustrates, nurtures, and sustains our humanity. Oppression corrodes what makes us human, spoiling it across generations, and for reasons as artificial as socially-constructed ideas of race, class, and gender.
I don’t buy arguments that equality is existential because to accept this idea would mean that reality must and can only be oppressive. To me equality is an inherent aspect of human life and the vitality that sets our kind apart. To me, equality is akin to the idea of ‘heat’, and oppression–its opposite–like ‘cold’. Heat is what exists because the universe is made up of energy, and it is energy that we measure when we think of ‘heat’. Cold does not exist on its own; it exists only in the absence of heat, without energy, with degraded vitality.
Similarly, I believe that our humanity is the foremost character of our nature. It is what enables us to think, to empathize, and to dream. In my view, our humanity is more consistent with the idea of equality than is oppression. It is equality that demonstrates, illustrates, nurtures, and sustains our humanity. Oppression corrodes what makes both oppressor and oppressed human, spoiling it over generations, and for reasons as artificial as socially-constructed ideas of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. .
I dedicate this post to Gem Daus, Noel Alumit, and Jury Candelario, and other brave friends actively engaged in advocating equality for the LGBTQI community. To the LGBTQI community, this day is your unveiling.
—–Originally posted on Nov 4, 2008 as “What Nov 4 means for one Filipino American”——-
Fired up???!! Ready to go???!!!
I write this on the eve of election day, and I can’t help but think of tomorrow. As each of us casts perhaps the most important vote we will ever cast tomorrow, I am buoyed by great hope that cannot be contained and an imagination that wants to run wild.
“What will tomorrow bring?” — This rhetorical expression has never been more appropriate; for if the promise of Obama materializes into a dramatic cultural, political and social change that has been long-deferred, that has been truncated by the selfishness of the 1980s and 1990s, then tomorrow brings a bright and glorious morning.
Tomorrow is the rebirth of ethnic minorities in America. Tomorrow is our unveiling.
We will finally matter. We will finally be vital.
And even us, Filipino Americans, will no longer be invisible.
I am neither a politician, nor do I aspire to be. But I am a proud Filipino American. I am fired up, and am ready to go. 37 more hours until the reveal!!!
Many Filipinos outside the US are probably wondering why this election matters so much to Filipino Americans like me. The obvious generic answers are easy: a compassionate, unifying government that advocates for the marginalized; policies that favor the people not the privileged few; political leadership that inspires hope and that is deserving of respect.
The particular answer that resonates among minorities and the youth is more below the radar. For me, this new community of idealists, progressives, open-minded cosmopolitans that was built by sheer inspiration over the course of the 2-year Obama campaign has given me new life. It has given me a sense of home.
As a Filipino American, I am neither Filipino, nor American. I am in an unknowable middle ground where there is no place called home. The otherness I feel is isolating and it can be disempowering, especially when surrounded by a mainstream culture that is prejudiced and uncaring that I feel unwelcome.
One easily becomes a fighter, an activist out of anger and the need for self-preservation. Thus, I am kin to idealists who want to see the world as it should be. And Obama is my prophet.
So, for this Filipino American, tomorrow, Nov 4, means a self reborn. And I find myself fortunate.