CARE Project at the Bulosan Center Conference

I’ve been working with some amazing student research collaborators this academic year! I never think of them as research “assistants” because that’s feudal and hella inaccurate. Rather, I think of students who I am working with as collaborators. They are trained in sociological research methods. They collect research with care and intention from Filipino/a caregivers. They commit to data analysis. They think through the issues with me, provoke me to think of things in different ways, and teach me so much.

At the annual Bulosan Center for Filipinx American Studies conference, the CARE Project team will be front and center and my collaborators will be presenting our preliminary findings on the data we’ve collected with Filipino/a caregivers under the pandemic.

Come and see their amazing work! Register to attend at tinyurl.com/CAREprojectBULO.

Ethics of Care

I’ve been interested in the term “ethics of care” for quite some time. In an activist sense, I’ve been interested in how movements center radical care (versus individualized, capitalist notions of care) in their organizing work and across communities, especially in the dire times we live in. I have wondered if and when activists think of care, how do they shape their definitions of it and how does it fit into an ethos of making the world anew?

Academically, the term “ethics of care” show up across fields and disciplines. In psychology, Carol Gilligan’s canonical conceptualization of the aforementioned phrase insisted that girls and women’s morality could be characterized with their connectedness. In political science, Joan Tronto expanded this notion by introducing the idea of a “responsibilty-based” ethics, not just about caring but including justice. And yet, I’ve wondered, what about cultural differences on how we interpret and take on care? What’s the role of race and ethnicity in an ethics of care? How about for those who immigrate from one cultural context to another?

Inspired by these questions, I’ll be in conversation with heavy weights in this field for the University of Wisconsin, Madison Ethics of Care Conference, Joan Tronto and Nancy Fraser. I’ll try my best to put a theoretical hat on but more importantly, bring my decade-long experience in organizing with Filipina/o migrant care workers, in the US and learning from their transnational solidarities.

The good news is the conference is FREE! Register here!

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A Dialogue on Anti-Asian Racism

IFlyer with workshop title: Anti-Asian Racism: A Critical Filipino (American) Studies Perspective

I’ve been organizing with a group of scholar-activists for the good part of the pandemic and we’re getting to roll out some exciting programming. We have a workshop funded by St. Mary’s and co-sponsored by Bulosan Center coming up in a few weeks.

Join us by registering at tinyurl.com/CFSCStMarys (cap sensitive) and join us in a dialogue!

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Ethnography For All

I’ve always thought about the potential of research methods to serve communities, beyond academic purposes. I’ve always tried my best to co-conspire, act and attempt at delinking “research” processes to a purely intellectual endeavor. From another vantage point, I love bringing the methods that I’ve seen naturally recurring in community organizing into research processes: ideas of talk-story or kuwentuhan, community and trust building, democratizing information, actualizing communities’ “right to research” (Appadurai 2006).

It’s hard but I like the challenge.

This week an email came through my inbox from EPIC, an organization trying to bring principles of ethnography into industry. Sharon Bautista, UX researcher and community organizer based in Chicago, wrote a book review of The Labor of Care (2018) and Kimberly Kay Hoang’s Dealing in Desire (2015) to make sense of the recent shootings in Atlanta that claimed the lives of 6 Asian American and Asian immigrant women.

Bautista’s thoughtful engagement with the two ethnographic books in “Ethnography for Sensemaking in Times of Trauma” helped me see that ethnography and qualitative methods can go far beyond the academy. And her reflection gave me some hope that writing The Labor of Care and possibly, my next book will not just be left in the halls of classrooms or conferences. Perhaps it has a wider audience that can help them make sense of the world.

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Lifting Up Filipino Caregivers Stories

Elaika Celemen and Kristal Osorio have been my research collaborators for the past two years. Both of them were my students, organizers in organizations that I deeply respect, and they are both Pinay immigrants who have roots in the Bay Area. Conducting research on Filipino caregivers with them really sharpened my ideas about how to do this work and then how to make sense of it. In the process of wading through interviews and surveys, we found that so much of our Filipino community members who work as caregivers have normalized conditions of exploitation.

We wanted to tell that story and make it available for people, scholars, community organizations to build on. Here’s our article:

Filipino Formal Caregivers to the Elderly and Normalized Exploitation in the Workplace

Another exciting part of this publication is that we are part of the inaugural issue of Alon: Journal of Filipinx American and Diasporic Studies! Alongside amazing scholars and scholar-activists, we welcome this new academic home for scholarship like ours.

Download and cite, good friends!

Racism in the Time of Corona

Lent some of my analysis on race and anti-Asian racism that Filipino health care workers face as they serve on the frontlines.

This story skims the surface. The past administration has contributed to a more general anti-Asian xenophobia and racism but the reverberations can be felt in so many spaces. As we observe in the uptick of hate crimes against Asian Americans in neighborhoods and the different publics, the dangers of these racist and prejudicial ideas hurts the very people trying to keep COVID-19 patients alive.

International Women’s Day 2021

This International Working Women’s Day I’m so happy to be joining a conversation about women and human rights at San Jose City College! Thanks to President Rowena Tomaneng for organizing this event and bringing this conversation to light!

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PTO for Domestic Workers in SF

Did you know that San Francisco domestic workers are the workforce with the highest estimated number of minimum wage violations in the city? 70% of domestic workers do not earn enough to meet their basic living expenses. Domestic workers are entitled to paid time off like any other employees — but 87% of them never receive this benefit.

This exploitation reflects the historic devaluation of domestic work, rooted in this country’s history of slavery and the subsequent exclusion of Black workers from labor laws formed during the 1930s. During this pandemic, the need for paid time off has never been more clear, as the safety of domestic workers is threatened simply by going to work. Because many of these employees work for multiple private individuals at one time, existing structures that distribute benefits through one central employer do not serve.

San Francisco has the chance to correct these systemic inequities and provide domestic workers with access to paid time off through the creation of a San Francisco Domestic Work PTO Program.
Please sign this petition to the SF Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance to strengthen protections for domestic workers.

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Teaching Racial Justice in the face of white supremacy

Watching white supremacists and extremists breach Capitol Hill on Wednesday, January 6,2021,  I wavered between disbelief and feeling like all of this was so predictable. After all, 4 years of a regime that leaned into racism, xenophobia, sexism, transphobia, violence and fascism, emboldened white extremists. Even the Department of Homeland Security under Donald Trump flagged the rise in far-right white extremism as the biggest threat to American safety.

But on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, there was also a swell of democracy in Georgia. It was Black women and organizers, like Stacey Abrams, former gubernatorial candidate, LaTosha Brown, co founder of Black Voter Matters, current Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Errin Haines, editor-at-large of The 19th, and many more, who mobilized countless hours and built coalitions across racial and ethnic lines to flip the state.

Not once, twice. First, to secure the presidential win for Joe Biden in November 2020. And to deliver, two democratic seats for Senator Raphael Warnock and Senator Jon Ossoff.

In the weeks leading up to the runoff election in Georgia, SFSU alumni, hood nominee for the Sociology Hood Award in 2019, Samir Shrestha joined volunteers from Seed the Vote in the Bay Area and Asian American Fund in Georgia to knock on doors and talk potential voters. Samir, a Nepali immigrant who has been involved in Bay Area organizations, contributed to mobilizing the Asian American vote in Georgia since they are the largest growing racial and ethnic group in the state. With a record turnout in Asian American and Black votes, led by organizers in coalition, many people of color found solidarity among one another, and most importantly, political power in one another.

My point is that as educators, we must use the glaring contradictions to expose the systemic problems in our country:

1. How Donald Trump deploys preferential narrative to his supporters

2. The use of police and armed force

3. The language circulated in the media

So that we can spark our students’ critical thinking and, perhaps, action towards social and racial justice. We can pose the problems to our students regarding these contradictions:

1. Why are the violent rioters who support Trump called “protestors” instead of “terrorists”?

2. Why did the police presence in preparation for  Black Lives Matters protests so different from the footage of police taking selfies with rioters inside Capitol Hill?

3. Why is “looting” such a big part of the narrative when it comes to largely peaceful protests and not to this violent mob?

This is not only an opportunity to point out what’s wrong with the US right now.

It’s a time to teach about what people are doing right, with hopes that our students, like Samir, will throw their weight into creating a country we all deserve.

Some resources I have found helpful as I set up spaces and exercises for my Winter 2021 session are below. There are explicit ways that white educators of students of color can engage the ongoing political and racial strife in this country.

·  Resources for Teachers on the Days After the Attack on the US Capitol

·  History Repeats Itself in DC, The Legacy of Racial Violence Continues by SJSU Professor Faustina DuCros

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FAHM 2020

I was asked recently, “what are you doing to celebrate Filipino American History Month (FAHM) this year?” I replied with what I’d be doing in my personal and family life and forgot about the many ways that community have cultivated spaces for me to be able to celebrate in community.

So I want to take the time to applaud the amazing Filipina/o American folks who have organized and prepared these events that I’ll be so honored to be a part of. THANK YOU for helping all of us celebrate Filipino American history month!

Here are a few ways I’ll be celebrating FAHM this year:

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A Short List to Read and Learn about Filipino/a Migrant Workers in the US

This list is not exhaustive, rather its responsive. This short list collates some resources, both academic and journalistic, that can help you learn more about the conditions of Filipino/a American migrant workers in the United States (US).

In my current research project, I am looking closely at the lives of Filipino/a migrant workers in the American care industry, specifically at the narratives and experiences of Filipino/a caregivers to the elderly in the Bay Area.

On the lives of Filipino/a Caregivers:

In the list below, you’ll find resources about Filipino/a migrant workers in other American industries so you can see the patterns across the experiences of migrant workers.

Filipino/a Migrant Workers Across American Labor Industries:

Most importantly, and despite these difficult work conditions, Filipino/a migrant workers have and continue to create resistance strategies and build political power collectively. Here are organizations who are aiming to do critical political organizing with Filipino/a migrant workers.

Organizations Supporting Filipino/a Migrant Workers in the US:

In honor of this year’s Filipino American History Month, October 2020, I’m putting together this list to acknowledge the important work of so many Filipino/s migrant workers in the care industry, especially under the COVID-19 pandemic. But also, to draw a throughline between the thousands of Filipinos who have migrated to US to work in various industries: agriculture, education, nursing, etc.

On the History and Production of Filipino/a Migrant Workers:

  • Bonus, R., 2000. Locating Filipino Americans: Ethnicity and the Cultural Politics of Space. Temple University Press.
  • Choy, C., 2009. Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino-American History. Duke University Press.
  • Fajardo, K.B., 2011. Filipino Crosscurrents: Oceanographies of Seafaring, Masculinities, and Globalization. U of Minnesota Press.
  • Francisco-Menchavez, V., 2018. The Labor of Care: Filipina migrants and transnational families in the digital age. University of Illinois Press.
  • Mabalon, D.B., 2013. Little Manila is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipina/o American Community in Stockton, California. Duke University Press.
  • Manalansan IV, M.F., 2003. Global Divas: Filipino gay men in the diaspora. Duke University Press.
  • Padios, J.M., 2018. A Nation on the Line: Call Centers as Postcolonial Predicaments in the Philippines. Duke University Press
  • Poblete, J., 2014. Islanders in the Empire: Filipino and Puerto Rican Laborers in Hawai’i. University of Illinois Press.
  • Rodriguez, R.M., 2010. Migrants for export: How the Philippine state brokers labor to the world. U of Minnesota Press.
  • Tadiar, N.X., 2009. Things fall away: Philippine historical experience and the makings of globalization. Duke University Press.

As a responsive list, I’d be so happy to update this short list with what YOU think is essential. Please leave a comment with your recommendations below!

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Filipino Frontliners and the Cost of COVID-19

On a day where COVID-19 positive Donald Trump disregards medical caution to quarantine at a hospital for a motorcade to “show strength”, I can only think of how selfish and barbaric he is to do so. When thousands of Filipino nurses who have worked on COVID-19 frontlines since the beginning of this year have lost their lives by working so hard to fight this pandemic.

In a news story entitled, “California’s Filipino American nurses are dying from COVID-19 at alarming rates,” Mercury News reporter Fiona Kelliher states that in California, 20% of nurses are Filipino and Filipino American. Of the CA nurses who have died of COVID-19, 70% are Filipino. Nationally, Filipino nurses who have died from COVID-19 number at 30%.

I have Filipino cousins, family friends, close friends, comrades who are nurses. They number in the thousands. Their positions as frontline workers are by design, a migration trajectory with historical precedent and a continued sustained stream of laborers. They have families in the Philippines, in the US, around the world, who depend on them.

To say that I’m devastated is an understatement.