Soon after 9/11 occurred, I took a flight out of Providence airport and witnessed practically every brown-skinned male, almost every person with Muslim attire, men and women, pulled aside and questioned.
I am a person of mixed race: half Filipina, Native American and Dutch American. Many people have asked me what my nationality is.
I simply tell them I am American.
“I know that,” they would say. “But what are you?” Then I’d say I’m Filipina-American, an identity I hold dear because of my full-blooded Filipina mother and my American father. If it weren’t for the Vietnam War I would not be here, because my biological father, an Air Force serviceman, would not have met my mother in the Philippines.
I know what unrest and madness is. I was conceived from it. I also know what dictatorial military control is. I grew up during the Marcos regime in the Philippines and I am all too familiar with the omnipotent rule of a tyrant.
When I heard about the call for racial profiling to spot potential terrorists, I cringed. I served in the U.S. Army, active duty and reserves. I was a military brat. I graduated high school at Clark Air Force Base, Philippines. I am no stranger to the
military so I know that military members and their families have sacrificed more than the rest of us can even fathom.
But this is not a fine time to be brown-skinned. I have been mistaken for being Brazilian, Hawaiian to Mexican, upon various others. Could I be mistaken for being a Muslim terrorist by appearance? It would be quite possible, if I look suspicious enough to somebody with a gun. The thing is, being suspicious is so subjective. The person holding the trigger is gripped with preconceived notions and fear.
Yes, we have to be diligent but we should not look each other sideways because of our exterior.
As in the case of the Japanese-Americans during WWII who were forced to leave their way of life, their property and herded into concentration camps-have we not learned from this?
When Prime Minister Tony Blair declared that Britain would go on with their normal lives after the London terrorist bombings, it was indeed, a noble statement, until he confirmed his demoralizing shoot-to- kill policy, which inevitably killed an innocent Brazilian man.
If we let fear like this run rampant and unchecked, the freedoms we have known will slowly but surely cease to exist when we abandon our civil liberties. As far as I’m concerned, by doing so, we would only be playing right into the terrorists’ hands, by running amuck, rapt with paranoia and stirring the pot once more of repressed racism-hoping that we, all of free world, would self-destruct.