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wo words “not guilty” from the six-person jury at the Sanford, Florida courthouse where George Zimmerman stood accused of killing seventeen year old black teenager Trayvon Martin has sent shockwaves of disbelief across America. For minority communities like Filipino-Americans, that verdict is painfully difficult to accept. For although the United States has come a long way in race relations—even electing its first black president—there is still an undercurrent of racism that pervades suburban communities where minority teenage boys are instinctively “profiled” as troublemakers and juvenile delinquents.
The sad fact for many Filipino immigrants is the revelation that although their sons and daughters were brought up as Americans, they are not truly seen as such by a large swath of “white” Americans. Case in point is the Trayvon Martin killing: a young black teenager wearing a hoodie and walking though a quiet Florida community—which he had every right to walk through— is profiled and results in his being shot to death by a neighborhood watch vigilante.
What is most disquieting to Filipino-Americans is that many of them purposely left the Philippines with its myriad problems of injustice and inequality so they could raise their children in a just and enlightened country like the United States—only to realize they face different though equally horrific forms of injustice and inequality here.
The nationwide demonstrations by outraged citizens will hopefully result in a “more perfect union” which the country has sought since its founding. All minority children have to be allowed to grow, prosper and reach their full potential if the United States is to remain the greatest country on earth. Published 7/15/2013