On Discovering This Filipino Brown Asian

Your last name is Mexican, but you look Chinese.
Is Filipino Mexican Chinese?”
- a college boyfriend of mine

This is punchline to my solo performance piece Yes. No. I’m Not Sure Yet. (video recording)

My interest in self-identity is piqued. I identify as a Filipino-American, born in the United States to Filipino parents - father in the Navy, mother a nurse - from the Philippines. I am a light-skinned Filipino. I have a Chemical Engineering degree from UC Berkeley. I do not speak Tagalog but I understand the language. Filipino food is not my favorite food to eat. I can make lumpia. I am an entrepreneur.

And I read books because I am (definitely) not an ethnic studies scholar. I will update this list as I continue to discover and express my identity.

One Degree of Separation

These are people whose books I’ve read, whom I’ve heard speak, and in one case, whose wedding I’ve attended. Their wisdom continues to shaped my thoughts about identity.

Joanne Rondilla - An Assistant Professor at San Jose State University, Joanne is a leading voice in Colorism, “the discriminatory treatment of individuals falling within the same 'racial' group on the basis of skin color.”

A friend and local coffee shop owner introduced me to Joanne. Because of Joanne, I continue to learn about colorism, race, and racism. We are now good friends (in real life).

Jeff Chang - Joanne introduced me to Jeff, a writer and journalist. Jeff hosted a panel event Who We Be: An Un-panel About Our Colorized Futures, in conversation with W. Kamau Bell, Adams Mansbach, and Favianna Rodriguez.

Energized by Jeff’s reply to my Facebook comment after the event, I became a Jeff Chang fan. I journal and write more. I understand the importance of self-expression. And I look forward to another breakfast meet-up with Joanne, Jeff, and others.

Anthony Ocampo - Joanne encouraged me to attend Anthony’s Oakland event. If Joanne says so, I do so. Because of Anthony, I think more about my upbringing, my parents choosing to raise their family more american-ized, and the complexities of immigration.

Two Degrees of Separation

These are people whose books I’ve read and whom I’ve heard speak. Their breadth and depth about the topics of race and racism also shape my thoughts about identity.

Ibram X. Kendi - Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

john a. powell - Racing to Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society

Richard Rothstein - The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America