By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – There are nuisances to racial discrimination and stereotyping, such that for OSM! top blogger Sylvia Hubilla, she had to ‘navigate it’ instead of dealing with it head-on.
How does navigating racism look like for this retired teacher in Austin, Texas? And for FilAm women leaders too? During the digital show Issues & Inspiration, Hubilla, along with immigration lawyer and writer Licelle Cobrador, full-time mom and visual and performing artist Ann Constantino Beck, and UN relations Vice President of Women’s Federation for World Peace Merly Barlaan were in a deep and upbeat discussion on racism and lessons learned from the pandemic.
Navigating racism, anyone?
Hubilla, whose OSM! blog on ‘The baby did not come with a manual’ continues to soar as number one in readership, said ignorance could be a main reason why people tend to discriminate against each other.
She said that she would usually take time to explain when asked stereotypical questions like, why do you speak very good English? “I tell them about the Philippine education system which was instituted by the US,” she said.
However, when she could sense some arrogance, she would just drop the conversation. That’s how navigating looks like for her.
Beck, meanwhile, admitted that she had often been mistaken as a Latina, not a Filipino when asked about her experience in being stereotyped. “I think that being a woman is a challenge enough. You get discriminated against racially and assaulted sexually. I have experienced all those,” she said.
New York is heightening its campaign on racial discrimination with the recent rise of racial hate crimes in the city. It encouraged the public to report these crimes and misdemeanors at the office of human rights commission.
For Atty. Cobrador, there is such a thing as a right place and right time to call it out.
“Sometimes, people say you are hypervisible being the only Asian in a room, or invisible. So where do you place yourself? You don’t want to be too loud or too silent. When that happens to me, there is such a thing as the right place at a right time when you call it out,” explained Cobrador.
At one time, she said that she had to call out a lawyer who belittled her law school as not being part of the US system which seemed part of the bullying tactic of an opposing counsel. Cobrador told the lawyer to just focus on the merits of their case, and on her school where she was coming from, as a way to put him in his place.
The serious conversation turned out to be fun when Ann Beck said that it was her who seemed discriminatory against her husband. “In the family, I think I am the dominant one. But my daughter would say, happy wife means happy life.”
Barlaan opined that the dynamic between husband and wife when it comes to equality is based on ‘sweet surrender’ in order to maintain peace and harmony. “I think at home it is different. In the workplace or government, I have been very keen at 50-50 women representation or decision. But at home, I think it is a sweet surrender kind of situation. We need to choose love,” said the NJ-based woman leader.
According to Cobrador, a leading cause for divorce in the US is financial difficulties, as opposed to the stereotypical idea that women’s position on gender equality prompts those divorces.
Oh, everyone in the studio said. “So no money, no honey!,” blurted Barlaan, sending everyone roaring in laughter.
Pandemic year 2
In retrospect, Hubilla said that the pandemic made her realize how technologically challenged she is and how she missed her children and grandchildren whom she had not seen all together for more than a year.
“I rediscovered that we are not meant to be alone. I had reached out to long lost friends and my daughters and grandchildren through technology. I learned that I was very technologically challenged,” she said.
Cobrador resonated Hubilla’s sentiment. The pandemic had made her realize to call her mother more often than before, aside from mastering to bake cinnamon rolls and attempting pan de sal. She has also reached out to high school and college friends as well as her colleagues in the practice.
“We pivoted to zoom meetings during the lockdown but I found solitude in this pandemic. But I also learned to reach out. I don’t have family in NYC as most of them are on the West Coast,” she said.
For Barlaan added that she had mastered the art of muting and unmuting during her long-hours of online meetings. On a serious note, she said she missed her two daughters in the Philippines whom she hadn’t seen for more than years as a result of the lockdown.
“I think we all will be OC (obsessive-compulsive) and there’s no going back to the old ways. We will keep clean most of the time and as much as we can. I think our creativity and productivity will be maximized. We will live with this pandemic,” she said in clear optimism.
For Ann Beck, it will be a continued full-time motherhood to her two young children as they are home-schooled during this continued lockdown. “I will continue to be a good citizen, reaching out to those who are in need with proper safety precaution,” she said. #