There are several key points I learned in ready the scholarly literature. When I was in the military I was stationed in the Philippines for one year. My thoughts and example on classism is having attended an “influential” university for ones undergraduate education, I have noticed that classist attitudes are ubiquitous among the classmates, friends, and peers both during and after undergrad. The same is true about many young Asians who graduate from our country’s top private schools and often, their families.
Classism is considered a disparity behavior based on social class or perceived social class. My neighbor is from the Philippines I decided to interview her. Her name is Dalisay , her name means pure. Dalisay, said she was once told by a White male friend that she had three strikes against her: I quote, “ 1) being an Asian, 2) being female and 3) growing up in a British colony”. Dalisay grew up in a traditional Chinese family where the sole ambition for girls was to get married into a respectful family.
Girls getting an education were not viewed as a top priority, and if you were going to get an education then you should be doing a degree in law, medicine, or engineering. Dalisay decided she did not want to be traditional it was difficult for her parents to understand why she wanted a degree in psychology since compared to a doctor, a psychologist has lower status and receives significantly less income. As luck would have it, it was the values that were instilled by her parents that led me into psychology, human rights, social justice, and social action.
I did not realize that my social inequality lesson came at such an early age until in recent times. Dalisay was watching a television show where someone was doing an exercise about earliest memories. At that time she thought, “What a great exercise”. So Dalisay began to think about her earliest memory. Her earliest memory was a wonderful memory of holding her grandfather’s hand and only being able to see his knee as she was learning how to walk. That warm memory suddenly shifted to confusion and pain.
As her grandfather and she walked to the door of their family’s fruit shop she saw her parents and her aunties and her uncle’s serving White customers. Dalisay said, she was probably around 18 months and did not understand the interaction between her family members and the customers. But one thing was clear, even at 18 months, she was aware that it was painful to witness the demeaning, sniggering, patronizing, and belittling behavior exhibited by the White customers to her family. This was Dalisay first memory! Unfortunately, it would not be her last memory of racism and oppression.
Interacting with the internet websites I have learned that Philippines are compassion forgiveness, and patience people. There are actually eight key qualities that I have learned in reading about social justice and human rights work regarding Pilipino. Unfortunately, successful outcome of social justice work does not necessarily happen within hours, minutes, days, weeks, or months for that matter. This dysfunctional racism may take years. I truly believe in the planting seed analogy. Part of social action work is sometimes about planting seeds.
Dalisay said, she have learned to be patient and trust that what she is doing will be effective and will lead to change. Unfortunately, change that Dalisay may never witness. Instead of dwelling on whether she can make a difference, I trust and have faith that she will make a difference. For example, I am endlessly surprised and humbled by emails, cards, or letters she has received from students and community members about the impact of her interactions and the change that has developed as a result of their contact with her.
Since the eight key points have impacted her social justice work, below I will share examples of how each of these eight critical lessons affected me personally and professionally. There are many surprises I have experienced with this culture. I did not understand until I spent more time with Dalisay, which from acceptance comes harmony, balance, and energy to strategize on how to effectively battle these injustices. Being a refugee and living in America she became cultural and a language broker for newly arrived Asian immigrants and Southeast Asian refugees.
Needless to say, my personal experiences led me to help my community with the aim to minimize racism, discrimination, and oppression so that the next generation would not have to endure such injustices. I understand more about my experiences and those of her family and community. She decided to do a degree in psychology and I decided professional counseling. Through psychological concepts, theories, and models of racism, hatred, prejudice, discrimination, stereotypes, forgiveness, liberation psychology, and restorative justice, it gave us the tools, skills, and courage to combat human rights violations and social injustices.
Dalisay’s experiences define who she is, what she stand for, and what she willing to accomplish. My search through the literature and the internet has driven me to learn more about a culture I know little about. Realistically, we as a people have so much in common. My name is Rilandra, literally translated, bestowed from heaven courage; I quote, “she who courageously endures nature’s hardships by harmonizing with her environment (Aria & Goon, 1992)”.
It is my destiny to experience and endure racism, discrimination, and oppression and will continue to do so. But it is also my destiny to learn. Since I was a child I feel like Dalisay, I too fought for human rights and social justice. My experiences like my neighbor were to move out of my traditional woman’s role to take a leadership role and proactively human rights and social injustices. And it is my destiny to weave my American /French cultural values and teachings into social action, blending my knowledge and action.
I do not have special skills nor am I different than other people, all I have is my passion and commitment to fight against the injustices and human rights violations I encounter, for I cannot and will not be silent about these injustices. I am also humble like my neighbor my lessons learned as an American/French woman fighting for rights and fair treatment for all people In closing another definition of “Classism” is the organized force of inferior class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups.
It’s the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class. Dalisay has definitely enlightened me about a lot regarding classism in which I was not aware of. Rilandra From that time until now my family and I have had numerous experiences of racism, discrimination, and oppression. For example, my father, as a young adult, was denied entry in a movie theatre since the sign outside stated: No dogs or Chinese, or the time when my sister was told that she would not be the valedictorian.
The school principal harshly told my sister: “We all know that you’re the best student in the school, but we can’t give this status to a Chinese”. The repeated messages of being inferior to White people and not even seen as being part of the human race were strongly imprinted in my mind. I still have vivid memories of being thirteen years old and my history teacher lecturing to our class about World War II. Being the only student of color in the class I was tense throughout the class, knowing fully that there would be discussion about the Japanese participation in World War II.
My main concern was that the White students would think that I was Japanese. Well that was the least of my concerns. When the history teacher asked the class: “Why do you think Chinese are yellow? ” I knew immediately that this was not going to be a positive response. The history teacher then proudly announced to the class that: “During World War II the Chinese men did not want their women and girls to be raped, so they put them in the barrels when people would urinate in and hence they became yellow”.
Readers may already be familiar with these countless stories of racism and oppression since these are the experiences of many people of color and have been told in various outlets such as in movies, plays, books, narratives, poems, songs, dance, etc. Despite these injustices, my parents who were both unaccompanied refugee minors in a British colony based on their experiences of World War II, have instilled in my siblings and me the core values of being humble, always helping those who are less fortunate than you, treating everyone respectfully regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status, disability age, etc., and not be judgmental, selfish, arrogant, or egocentric.
Coming from a Confucius and Buddhist background we were taught the yin-yang approach to social injustices, where we were educated to be open, empathic, humble, and learn the art of forgiveness. We learned not to complain about being ridiculed or about the discrimination, inequalities, or unfair treatment that we experienced. Some may interpret this as passive acceptance, but the Asian approach, which I did not understand until I was older, is that from acceptance comes harmony, balance, and energy to strategize on how to effectively combat these injustices.
Being an immigrant and living in a migrant community I became a cultural and language broker for newly arrived Chinese immigrants and Southeast Asian refugees. Not surprisingly, my personal experiences led me to help my community with the aim to minimize racism, discrimination, and oppression so that the next generation would not have to endure such injustices. To understand more about my experiences and those of my family and community I decided to do a degree in psychology.
Through psychological concepts, theories, and models of racism, hatred, prejudice, discrimination, stereotypes, forgiveness, liberation psychology, and restorative justice, it gave me the tools, skills, and courage to combat human rights violations and social injustices. My experiences define who I am, what I stand for, and what I am willing to fight for. . Eight Key Lessons Learned as an Asian Woman Social Justice Warrior.