Miss Universe Issue Raises a Question: Are Filipinos Racist?
May 7, 2021   •   Kyzia Maramara
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May 7, 2021   •   Kyzia Maramara
Filipinos are kind, funny, hospitable, resilient, and… racist? Are we, really? The incident with Miss Universe Canada 2020 Nova Stevens serves as another eye-opener that tells us we Filipinos still have much to learn. Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Pinoy racism had its spot in the limelight this week.
On May 5, Stevens uploaded a photo of her on Instagram with screenshots of racist comments in Tagalog. She said people have been sending her the image a lot lately. “Nognog,” “Akala ko engkanto,” and “Katakot” were just some of the hurtful comments Filipino netizens aimed at the beauty queen.
“I’m really disappointed with some Pageant fans from certain countries,” she wrote in the caption. “Your hate takes away the fun and enjoyment from this once in a lifetime experience.”
Stevens clarified that she wasn’t singling out Filipinos. She didn’t even initially know what language the comments were written in until some pointed it out. “I don’t think all Filipinos are racist. That would be ridiculous to say,” she added. “I’m well aware that there are multiple countries that think this way. I’m sharing this as a teaching moment so that we can make Pageants fun and enjoyable for all.”
Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo says she apologized to Canada’s Nova Stevens and Thailand’s Amanda Obdam over hateful comments they received from Filipino netizens. (via @PhilstarNews)
— ONE News PH (@onenewsph) May 6, 2021
Our own Miss Universe candidate, Rabiya Mateo, took it upon herself to personally apologize to Stevens and to Miss Universe Thailand 2020 Amanda Obdam too. Both Stevens and Obdam were at the receiving end of some racist Filipino remarks.
During a press conference, Rabiya said that she personally sent messages to her co-contestants to apologize for the hate speech. “This is not a reflection of who we are as Filipinos,” she said. Rabiya also said that she feels sorry for Stevens because “nobody deserves to be in that position.”
The beauty queen also encouraged her followers to mass report accounts that spout racist nonsense not only toward other candidates but to everyone else around the world.
Remember the #CancelKorea issue last year? It started from an anonymous Korean on TikTok who dropped one racist remark against Filipinos. Instead of looking at it as a way to educate people, some Filipinos decided to be racist back.
Stevens herself said it: “With all that has been going on in the world ‘black lives matter,’ ‘Asians are human’ you would think this would bring us together. Instead, looks like some people are still stuck in their ignorant and racist ideologies.”
Unfortunately, racism isn’t just hurling hate speech under the cover of online anonymity. Abroad, this translates into violence and even death. You’ve come across the news of the 65-year-old Asian woman who was punched and kicked while she was on her way to church. Shocking? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. For the past few years, Anti-Asian crimes have been steadily rising.
You would expect, in a tense climate like this, that Asians would be the ones to extend love and support for others. How can we cry out against Asian racism one moment and be racist toward other races the next?
MISS UNIVERSE CANADA POSTED THIS ON HER IG ACCOUNT EARLIER!
NAKAKAHIYA MGA PINOY NA TO JUSKO!! pic.twitter.com/29rX2pEm6p
— mami chary 🦋 (@teanatsaran) May 5, 2021
Of course, netizens had to jump in and call out the racist Pinoys on Stevens’ post. It’s embarrassing, for one, to learn that we have racists in our midst, but this mistake is still a great opportunity for a PSA. Kids, these are the people you should not be like when you grow up.
Stevens clarified that she wasn’t angry at Filipinos, she just wanted to “shed light on the toxicity that sometimes hails from fans (all over the world)”. After her initial post about racist comments, she followed it up with another one that had screenshots of kind, supportive messages. “You are beautiful,” “Love from the Philippines,” and “Black beauty” read some.
Stevens asked everyone seeing her post to not fall into generalizing a race just because some of them are racists. “In every group of people; whether black, white, green, yellow, red, purple, there are always a few bad apples,” she said. “I know for a fact there is more good than evil in this world.”
The Miss Universe candidate did say that she hopes it will be the last time she addresses this issue.
However, the issue does not end with a simple Instagram post. Most Filipinos to this day don’t seem to notice that they’re casual racists. We’re quick to crucify racists and call out their wrongs in public but we perform acts of casual racism too. But it isn’t too late to educate yourself and others. What are the casual acts of racism Filipinos overlook?
Yes, Filipinos could be a racist bunch but the good thing is we can try to change. Although it is true that we might never be able to wipe away all traces of racism from our people, we can at least try to educate and reprimand those around us.
Hate begets hate. Love breeds love. Even without the issue of racism, the world is still a bleak place. But think about it, why fight each other over who’s more superior when we’re all no match for an invisible virus? No matter your skin color, race, or nationality, the truth is we’re all mortal humans at the end of the day. We shouldn’t be fighting each other, we should be working hand in hand to find a way to survive this pandemic.
Kyzia spends most of her time capturing the world around her through photos, paragraphs, and playlists. She is constantly on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and a great paperback thriller to pair with it.
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