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OPINION: When the ‘F’ Word and the ‘N’ Word Meant the Same Thing: Filipino

The insurrectos are very different from the insurrectionists you’ve been hearing about in the news recently. The rioters who attacked Capitol Hill on January 6, were dubbed “insurrectionists” because they were urged to fight and pillage the Capitol based on former Pres. Donald Trump’s lies of a stolen election.

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For some of you, to know of the singer H.E.R., the African American Filipino singer from Vallejo who kicked off Super Bowl LV with her rendition of “America,” would be wokeenough.

But the wokiest of the woke would appreciate that the game was three days after February 4, the anniversary of the day when the very first gunshots of the U.S.-Philippine War were aimed at Filipinos.

Still the wokiest yet would remember that the Super Bowl was being played in the hometown of one David Fagen, the African American hero of the Filipino “Insurrectos” of 1899.

Fagen knew when the “N” word and the “F” word both meant “Filipino.” For real. Let me explain.

Fagen was an African American born in Florida in 1875, at a time of continuing oppression and discrimination in the South. According to historian Howard Zinn, between 1889-1903 “on average, every week, two Negroes were lynched by mobs—hanged, burned, mutilated.”

This is well after the Civil War, when the best America could do was the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, which made “separate but equal” the law and created what essentially would become an American caste system.

Imagine the mindset of a young Fagen, who joined the segregated, all-Black 24th Infantry as one of the “Buffalo Soldiers” sent to fight Native Americans. Perhaps he was just following orders, but when that deed was done, Fagen and the others were sent to fight in the Spanish American War, first in Cuba, then to Asia.

There they fought the war everyone wants you to forget.

After a brief stop in San Francisco, Fagen shipped off to the Philippines, where things began to fall apart morally when the first gunshots were fired at Filipinos on the aforementioned Feb. 4, 1899.

By then, Fagen had reached his existential WTF moment, and I don’t mean “what the Filipino?” But it might have been.

Fagen questioned how any African American with integrity or empathy could fight a white man’s war and turn his gun on another person of color fighting for freedom.

Maybe his feelings began during his first campaign against Native Americans, but by the second go-round in the jungles of the Philippines, he could no longer fight for the U.S. imperial army. Fagen became one of 15 to 30 deserters among the four units of the all-Black “Buffalo Soldiers.”

Fagen’s distinction: he was the only one known to have actually joined the Filipino freedom fighters of the U.S.-Philippine War.

My friend, Prof. Daniel Gonzales of San Francisco State University’s Ethnic Studies Dept., prefers that naming phrase to the more common Philippine-American War because the U.S. was the aggressor on Philippine soil and caused more deaths. Among Filipino civilians alone, casualties as a result of the war are estimated to be around 1 million lives. Some call it borderline genocide, which is debatable. But there’s no doubt this was America’s imperial war, more deadly than our present-day coronavirus war.

The real insurrectionists

The Filipino freedom fighters were the real “insurrectos,” or insurrectionists in American history; or as I see it, they were the insurrectionists based on truth.

David Fagen had to become one of them when he saw the U.S. was there to subjugate and colonize the Philippines.

The insurrectos are very different from the insurrectionists you’ve been hearing about in the news recently.  The rioters who attacked Capitol Hill on January 6, were dubbed “insurrectionists” because they were urged to fight and pillage the Capitol based on former Pres. Donald Trump’s lies of a stolen election.  The vast majority of these Trump insurrectionists were white and racist.    Once unleashed, they destroyed federal property and threatened the lives of both Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi. In the end, when all was said and done, five people died.

And when they were done, they were so proud they started taking selfies.

No one was taking selfies in the Philippines.

For the Filipinos, it was a war of passion, often fought with spears and knives to ward off an American desire for domination and conquest fueled by racism.Through letters written by African American soldiers and published in America by the Black ethnic press, such as the Boston Post, the Cleveland Gazette, and the American Citizen in Kansas City, Americans at home learned the truth about just how racist the war was in the Philippines.

“I feel sorry for these people and all that have come under the control of the United States, wrote Patrick Mason, a sergeant in Fagen’s 24th Infantry, to the Cleveland Gazette. “The first thing in the morning is the “(N-word)”and the last thing at night is the “(N-word).”. . .You are right in your opinions. I must not say as much as I am a soldier.”

This was the power of the ethnic press as described in E. San Juan Jr.’s essay on Fagen, that sources the Willard Gatewood book, “Smoked Yankees and the Struggle for Empire: Letters From Negro Soldiers, 1898-1902.

It makes the racist nature of the war clear and provides an understanding for Fagen’s defection. On Nov. 17, 1899, Fagen crossed the line and joined the guerrillas.

Historians note that Fagen was so good as a Filipino freedom fighter, he was promoted to captain on Sept. 6, 1900. Some Filipinos even called him “General Fagen.” His notoriety grew as he clashed on the battlefield with the U.S. military forces, specifically Gen. Frederick Funston. Fagen’s exploits were covered by the New York Times.

The war came to an official end in 1902 after Filipino rebel leaders like Emilio Aguinaldo surrendered beginning in the spring of 1901. But Fagen kept fighting and was never found. He was said to have married a Filipina and gone into hiding in the mountains of Nueva Ecija, on the island of Luzon.

Fagen’s head or a head fake?

San Juan Jr. tells a story of Anastacio Bartolome, who, in December 1901, brought a decomposed head said to be Fagen’s to Bongabong, Nueva Ecija. Bartolome produced other pieces of documentary evidence, like weapons or clothing, but the military didn’t consider it credible, nor did they give Bartolome a reward. San Juan suspects the items may have been stolen and the head could have been someone’s from the Aeta, a black aboriginal tribe. Bartolome may have also been a ruse to throw off Fagen’s pursuers.

Nevertheless, it was the Black press that wrote an obituarywith a sympathetic point of view. On Dec. 14, 1901, The Indianapolis Freeman did not condemn Fagen as a traitor but painted the picture of a man “prompted by honest motives to help a weaker side, and one to which he felt allied by the ties that bind.”

And that’s the oft-forgotten Asian part of Black History Month, where soldiers lie David Fagen found common ground among the dark-skinned Asian freedom fighters in the mountain jungles of the Philippines.

If you’ve never heard of this history, it’s not surprising. It’s one that runs counter to America’s white supremacist narrative.

The birth of colonial mentality

My father, who was born under the American flag in the Philippines a few weeks after the U.S.-Philippine war started, lived in the aftermath, yet probably knew nothing about Fagen. That likely wasn’t taught in his colonized American school, where he learned English well enough to come to America in the 1920s as a colonized American national.

All throughout the discrimination my father faced in the U.S. (anti-miscegenation, lack of opportunities in employment and housing), he found himself in the Black community. But he still was in the throes of colonial mentality. Generally, that’s known as an acceptance of the white narrative, as one goes along to get along in society.

It’s a mindset that lingers to this day among many in the large Asian American subgroup of Filipino Americans, more than 4 million strong. It’s the reason I no longer participate in some Filipino American projects that too often discount truth for a more passive, glorified U.S. perspective. Wokeness is not an option for the latter-day colonial minded.

   They all could use some of the insight from David Fagen’s history.

He challenged an immoral and imperialistic American war. And he knew right away his connection to other people of color in Asia fighting to be free—the Filipino.

When you lack the nerve to break the bonds of colonial mentality, think of Fagen, who heard the “N” word referring to Filipinos, and knew better.

It’s a lesson worth thinking about all the time, and not just during Black History Month.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his podcast/vlog, where he talks  about Fagen with Prof. Daniel Phil Gonzales on amok.com 

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Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.
The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Entertainment and Culture Editor

The documentary She Had A Dream by Tunisian filmmaker Raja Amari premieres on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange series tonight at 8 p.m. EST on WORLD CHANNEL. Season 14 of the acclaimed documentary series captures Black artists and activists shaping and reclaiming culture, advocating for change and mobilizing for brighter futures. She Had A Dream offers an intimate portrayal of one young Black Tunisian woman’s quest for political office and her fight against racism and oppression in a society that often seeks to overlook both.

The documentary follows Ghofrane, a 20-something Black woman from Tunisia as she walks the path of self-discovery of young adulthood while running for political office in a homeland where many still view her as an outsider.

Watch the trailer below:

A dedicated, charismatic activist and a modern, free-speaking woman, Ghofrane in many ways is the embodiment of contemporary Tunisian political hopes still alive years after the Arab Spring. She Had A Dream follows Ghofrane as she works to conquer her own self-doubts while attempting to persuade close friends and complete strangers to vote for her. As audiences follow her campaign, they also follow the dichotomies of her life as a woman striving for a role in politics in the Arab world and as a Black person in a country where racism is prevalent, yet often denied.

“The 14th season of AfroPoP shines a light on the collective power, strength and resilience of Black people and movements around the world,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, AfroPoP executive producer. “Viewers will see artists use their platforms to push for progress and human rights and see ‘ordinary’ people do the remarkable in the interest of justice.”

Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.

She Had A Dream airs on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange Monday, April 11 at 8 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel and begins streaming on worldchannel.org at the same time.

AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is presented by Black Public Media and WORLD Channel. For more information, visit worldchannel.org or blackpublicmedia.org.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena.
The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BBC Africa is reporting Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is facing a water shortage because of changing weather patterns and aging water facilities. The article reports, “Residents in informal communities like Kibra pay private vendors for water, meaning they now control the supply and access to water in the community.” The privatization of water access has led to an increase in the exploitation of women and girls in exchange for water.

“Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena. Check out the 2018 ANEW documentary short below:

The water crisis and the sexual exploitation of girls and women as a result of the water crisis shows no signs of slowing down.

To read more about this crisis, visit BBC Africa‘s series of articles and videos on Kenya’s water crisis and the Water Integrity Network’s (WIN) study on sextortion.

This news brief was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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COMMENTARY: San Jose Congressman Norman Mineta: The Reparations Hero for Asian Americans

Congressman Norman Y. Mineta will forever be known as the man who got justice for the people incarcerated by the Japanese internment during World War II. He got reparations passed in a Republican administration.

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On Thursday May 29th, 2014 the Federal Triangle Partnership celebrated Asian Pacific Heritage Month with a program that featured the keynote speaker Norman Mineta, former Secretary of both the Department of Transportation and the Commerce Department. Additionally, he was a member of the U.S. Congress for twenty years. photo by James Tourtellotte
On Thursday May 29th, 2014 the Federal Triangle Partnership celebrated Asian Pacific Heritage Month with a program that featured the keynote speaker Norman Mineta, former Secretary of both the Department of Transportation and the Commerce Department. Additionally, he was a member of the U.S. Congress for twenty years. photo by James Tourtellotte

By Emil Guillermo

When the Democratic candidates began the 2020 presidential campaign, there was a buzz about reparations for African Americans.

And then, the buzz died.

I mention that because last week, former San Jose Mayor and 13th District Congressman Norman Y. Mineta passed away at age 90.

Mineta will forever be known as the man who got justice for the people incarcerated by the Japanese internment during World War II.

He got reparations passed in a Republican administration.

Think about that. Reparations, the BIPOC holy grail. After Mineta got it done in 1988 under Reagan, it’s never been replicated.

Looking back, it seems like a magic trick. But it wasn’t. It was just hard work and politicking.

That’s why we all should revere the man who died somewhat appropriately in the first week of May, the month now known as Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Mineta was one of the first Congressional boosters to stretch what was originally a week, and then coined it Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

His passing on May 3, 2022, is an important marker on the significance of diversity and representation at the highest levels of government, politics, and elected office.

Born in San Jose to Japanese immigrants, Mineta lived through every major moment in modern Asian American history.

For the barriers he broke, and the policies he established, he was simply the community’s father figure.

He was Mr. Asian America.

For a short-time, I got to be close to him.

In the 103rd Congress in 1993, I was Mineta’s press secretary and speechwriter.

I had been at NPR where I hosted “All Things Considered.” When I left that position, I thought as a Californian in Washington, I should at least get to know how democracy gets done from the inside. Ideally, I figured you can cross the line into the netherworld of politics once. You can even cross back from whence you came. Once. But Norm was no ordinary politician.

He was the embodiment of Asian America in public life.

He was our hopes and dreams. Our cries and sorrows. From the time he was a Cub Scout incarcerated with other Japanese Americans during World War II to the time he served in government, Norm was there for all of us.

He was our fighter and our redeemer when he co-sponsored the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, that got justice for internees. More than $1.6 billion was paid out to 82,200 Japanese Americans, according to the New York Times.

That was always the difference maker. Norm was in the fight to rectify the historical transgression that gives Asian Americans our moral authority to this day.

There were other Asian American politicians, of course. But few had the career arc of Mineta, who first served locally in 1971 as mayor of San Jose. He was the first Asian American mayor of a major U.S. city.

In 1974, he was first elected to Congress, leaving in 1995, when the divided government began to shape up with an aggressive GOP led by Newt Gingrich.

But Norm re-emerged in government with more Asian American firsts, as Commerce Secretary in the Clinton Cabinet, and then Transportation Secretary under G.W. Bush. Two administrations. Two different parties.

The Norm I knew was the 1993 Norm. The people’s Norm.

The Norm who drove a modest white Dodge Colt because he wanted an American car. I knew the guy who worked all day, then carried a huge bag of homework to read through for the next day. I knew the guy who was in the post-flow triumph of the Civil Liberties Act, always diligent, persistent, and searching for a way to make things better.

That’s what I learned about Norm the most. Remember, this was in the early ’90s. Washington was getting nastier, more divisive, and gridlocked.

But Norm had friends like the late Republican Sen. Alan Simpson. They met as Boy Scouts in Wyoming. One incarcerated at the internment camp, the other free. Later as congressmen, they stood for a kind of bipartisanship that is rare these days.

That was perhaps the most significant political lesson I learned from Mineta. Legislation is one thing, but we’re all still human beings. And the goal is to turn adversaries into friends and to have your friends stay friends. You keep the channels open. You create new alliances, like the ideal public-private partnerships.

The point is, Mineta was always seeking solutions, working together with others to make things better.

He passes as the country is bitterly divided on everything. His life should serve as a playbook on how to keep the fragile nature of our democracy whole.

Remember Norm Mineta. He was the Democrat who got reparations passed in a Republican administration.

Today, that would make him a political Superman.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his talk show on www.amok.com Twitter@emilamok

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