Is the optimism of American Dream just another pigment of an immigrant’s imagination? IS THE AMERICAN DREAM RACIST?

The Statue of Liberty , a welcoming symbol of freedom and democracy for immigrants (photo taken by the author)

I am a first generation Filipino Immigrant.  Like all other countless immigrants who came to this country before me, I too have a story to tell. It’s a story about my aspirations to be part of the fabric of the American Dream. Before coming to this country, I was ecstatic about the concept of America as a country where people from all over the world regardless of your race, sex, gender ,social status or religion are all welcome and of equal importance. That I will play a pivotal role in the diverse make up and greatness of this country.

photo of the author when he was a kid back in the Philippines

However, the Pandemic caused by COVID-19 put a spotlight bright enough to really expose the severity of this country’s class division, racial prejudice & social injustice.  I believe this virus is the straw that finally broke the camel’s back, unraveling the ugly and inconvenient truth of ignorance and hatred towards people of color and immigrants. This time, no more lurking behind darkness. Instead, it is now being revered in broad daylight to further the division amongst the American people. Using the archaic thinking of “divide and conquer” that will be the demise of the legacy of our Democracy.

Asian-Americans being associated to racial slurs with terms such as “Kung-Flu” and “Chinese Virus.”  With the onslaught of verbal assault and physical harassment towards people of Asian descent, makes me really wonder, how inclusive is the American Dream?

photo of the author graduating from US Air Force’s Basic Military Training

What if you are a brown immigrant who is being judged by your “thick” accent and how it doesn’t pass the “made up” intelligibility metrics by those who think that they are the dominant race or class? Let’s not forget the history of ethnic jokes and denigrating stereotypes just to prove that Filipino immigrants are less of a human deserving of being equal. How about the mockery of being “fresh off the boat “ as perceived BY YOUR OWN KIND because of difficulty habituating to their so-called “American” way ? All these micro as well as macro aggressions, lateral oppression and systemic racism from multiple directions continue to shatter the hope of fully belonging as a citizen of this country.

Being socially isolated throughout these uncertain times took me on a journey of looking at myself everyday in the mirror. Looking at a reflection of a brown immigrant who only wants to be accepted. Searching for answers to the questions, “ ‘How much acclimation does a person of color like me have to go through?’ and, ‘Why do I have to be constantly on my toes to prove that I’m just as equal and deserving of this country?’ “ This time, as much as I wanted to, I can’t escape anymore the truth of my own reality. Realizing that my constant longing for approval led me to an emotionally draining toll, while I am drifting further away from my authentic self.  

photo of the author working as an Occupational Therapist in Brooklyn, New York

Yes, this country provided me the opportunity to be the best that I can be, from my military , performing arts  up to my healthcare career. However, those opportunities were not handed to me on a silver platter. I have to seek harder while being constantly reminded  that I will never enjoy the same birth privilege due to the virtue of my skin color, race and origin.

But with every obstacle comes an opportunity to transform. A new dawning of aspiration manifested  before my eyes and through my soul. It is to fully embrace becoming a vessel to the voiceless, marginalized & underrepresented, using the medium of producing socially and culturally relevant films as my guiding light.

photo of the author while on location shoot for the documentary he is currently producing, FollowLeadLOVE

This is my call to action to all my fellow Asian immigrants. May we take this moment in our nation’s history as an opportune time to raise our voices collectively as Asian-Americans…as AMERICANS.   Let us all take our plight to a new height and together realize that we deserve to be just as equal as anybody else . Now more than ever, our connection is resoundingly palpable through our veins with the blood flowing from our ancestors. 

AMERICAN DREAM IS NOT RACIST.  It’s an idea that provides hope to every immigrant like myself and my parents longing for a better life. As long as I aim to become an authentic and better version of myself, its ideals will continue to burn inside of me for I deserve nothing less.  With my head held up high, I proclaim that, I AM A PROUD BROWN IMMIGRANT , I AM A PROUD CONTRIBUTOR TO THIS COUNTRY and I AM PROUD TO BE AN EQUAL PART OF THE AMERICAN DREAM !