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How A 'Secret Asian Man' Came To Embrace Anti-Racism And His Own Brown Identity

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Eric Daza pictured as a senior in his high school yearbook in 1996. (Courtesy Eric Daza)
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Eric Daza came to the U.S. as a kid from the Philippines. Coming of age in Los Angeles, he took on the role of a "model minority" Asian immigrant, not realizing at the time the privilege he had, or how post-U.S. colonial attitudes in the Philippines had contributed to his thinking. He writes:

I didn’t rock the boat, and tried to downplay those who pointed out that racism was real and that the boat had always been sinking. After all, I was non-white, and no one had ever bothered me, right? I was a pretty darned good naive supporter of the deep, insidious notion of white supremacy.

Why? I had grown up in an entire Southeast Asian culture that had largely been groomed, indoctrinated and brainwashed into white-centered thinking over some 450 years of colonization by our Western overlords: Spain for almost 400 years, and then the United States of America for nearly 50 years more.

Several years spent living in the South, in a state where people saw his race and ethnicity front and center, changed his outlook. Over time, “I came to deeply embrace anti-racism in slow, sustained increments," he writes. "To do so, I had to embrace my own identity as a Brown person -- and understand my own complicity in white supremacy.”

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