So it has been a while since I added a chapter to my Brown Gal Chronicles. Now that I have graduated college, I have more time to devote to writing more content! As I reflect other the past few months, the question that always lingers through my mind was “What aspect of your Filipino American experience haven’t you written about yet?” To me, a big part of my Filipino American experience is dealing with racial generalizations. From other people asking me to help them with their math homework in school (Math is my weakest subject tbh) to people talking louder at me just because my skin is darker, I’ve had my share of unpleasant experiences. The most recent one happened back in April when I traveled to Memphis for NCUR. It occurred on the flight going from Sacramento to Houston.
Something really interesting happened on this flight. I was assigned to a middle seat and was the first to get to my row. As people more people were boarding the flight, a nice young black man sat next to me in the aisle seat. We introduced ourselves and patiently waited for the rest of the passengers to board. When the lady assigned to the window seat in my row came, me and the guy both got up so she could pass through. As this happened, an older white woman explained that she was supposed to sit in the aisle seat, the original seat the guy was previously in. As the guy was moving to another seat, the older white woman said to him, “I’ll happily sit in that seat if you want to sit next to your bride [referring to me]”. Both the guy and myself exchanged looks of shock and “I can’t believe she just said that!” I replied to her with, “Oh we’re not together!” and she replied “You’re not?!” Just the way she said it implied that the fact the young man and I aren’t romantically linked is crazy. The whole interaction was a little funny but also weird. What kept going through my mind at that moment was “Not all brown people who are sitting next to each other are actually together together!” So, as a person of color, the lesson learned is that other people will make incorrect assumptions about you and actually voice them, you just have to kindly correct them. What I hope you, the reader, take from this is to never make assumptions about the people around you and never voice them because it will make you look like an idiot, a racist one at that.
So yep, that was the most recent encounter I had dealing with racial generalization. I am aware that it could have been worse and my experience may be considered benign. To be honest, I actually wasn’t angered by what happened, just shocked. Maybe the lady didn’t grow up in a culturally diverse atmosphere and genuinely thought that all brown people exclusively date other brown people. But then again, I will never know.
Until the next chapter,