This past weekend M and I attended the SOFANWET softball tournament which features teams from Burkina Faso and Niger. While we were there we ran into the Filipino Baptist missionary couple and another Filipina, a young lady who works at the cell phone company. They spoke to me in Tagalog and I hastened to tell them that I’m from the Visayans (where a related but different language is spoken). Not only that: I wanted to tell them that, actually, I’m more American than Filipino now. Or both, rather. More American that the Filipinos I saw at the softball tourney, but more Filipino than the Americans here. Really, my only counterpart in this sense is the political officer at the US Embassy who’s a Bangladeshi who grew up in both South Asia and the US. He understands my discomfort at crossing and re-crossing imaginary boundaries. Maybe even more so since he’s an “official” American.
I guess I’m feeling extra sensitive in listening to the BBC’s series on the 20th anniversary of the People Power Revolution.
Or maybe because I’m the only Fil-Am RPCV I know of who belongs to the
PC Alumni Foundation for Philippine Development.
I can relate, I think. I'm more Puerto Rican than most of the ones over here, because I actually lived on the island and spoke Spanish the first part of my life. I've lived over here so long, though, that I'm rusty as hell with the Spanish, and because my mom kept us so sheltered, I know nothing about how any Puerto Ricans live, apart from my own family. Plus I look white, so there you go. I'm still mad as hell at one of my professors from last semester, who insisted there were only three races, white, black, and Asian; according to her, all hispanics are an ethnicity within the white race.
I used to date a Puerto-Rican Jewish guy (doubly passionate!) and we used to talk about being products of the same colonial war. If Mohamed Bob and I ever have kids, I'm sure they'll hate us for saddling them with multiple identities. Can there be a weirder combination then Filipino-American-Moroccan-Berber?
I hope you gave your prof a nasty course evaluation. The nerve! Basta!
On February 22nd, 2006 08:57 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
I just found out yesterday - yes, 1.5 years after arriving here - that out of 9,000 employees in my division in Switzerland, there are a total of *108* Americans. !! (3,400 Swiss; 1,700 Germans; 1,500 French - these three, not surprisingly, comprise the majority.) I thought there had to be more Americans than that...?! No wonder I always feel like such a sticker-outer...b/c I am. Who'da thunk that a regular old waspy white chick from the American West Coast would be such a minority? Because, based on the other numbers I saw, only about a 1/4 of the Americans are women. Lord, it just never occurred to me that I would be some kind of pioneer/moon-walker simply by arriving in a western country in 2004! I don't wanna be a pioneer!! I never did. One of my American friends here is a Vietnamese-American male, another is a Puerto-Rican-Dominican-American-female - I'm betting they feel more stick-out-y than I do. Especially the latter.
And, as I always suspected, there are about four times as many UK-and-its-commonwealth people here than Americans - over 500 from England, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Canada, etc. Most are from England. People from Great Britain and its former colonies are Not Like Us (Us=Americans, I need to feel some solidarity here, so I will say 'us'...hmph). The English especially can be much worse to deal with sometimes because they're free from any social constraints that might otherwise keep them from sneering openly at the naive, too-earnest (and I do agree with this perspective sometimes, I have to say), non-ironic/un-sarcasm-getting Americans. Puhleeze! I'm sorry, but Brits did not invent sarcasm/irony, but they do seem to think they've cornered the market. And sometimes, oh, Queen's subjects, saying cruel or blatantly rude, bitchy things as a 'joke' just isn't too funny, and not entirely creative in terms of communicating either.
Blech. I'm blathering. I guess I'm saying, I might be starting to begin to have a vague idea of what 'minority' feels like. And in a place where certain types of discrimination are freely practiced, it's not too fun. I'm guessing the under-the-cover-of-PC-ness kind of discrimination is no picnic either.
Welcome to my world! (heh heh)
I think part of the problem is that other European countries suffer from the "empire in decline" syndrome. They don't have colonies any more, nuclear weapons aren't cool, etc. so they have to resort to tormenting well-intentioned Americans.
Phooey on them.