Racist letter vs American Canyon Filipino community in Napa County CA goes viral

rageA supposedly ‘racist’ letter directed against the Filipino community in the city of American Canyon in Napa County, California in the United States is making the rounds in social media. An image of the letter was first shared by a certain Derek Valencia on a Facebook post with the caption “Anyone else in American canyon get this letter in the mail?!?!?!?!!!!!!?”

Here is a full transcript of the letter originally published by Phil Yu on a post in his blog Angry Asian Man:

====start of transcript====

California Department of Consumer Affairs
Board of Barbering & Cosmetology

Maria Aida Ignacio Brandes aka Maria ‘Lenny’ Ignacio
Cosmetolgist-License #234099
421 Knightsbridge Way
American Canyon, CA 94503

DOB 10 September 1950

Subj: Haircutting/Styling Practices Under Revoked License

According to the State of California Licensing & the concerned neighborhood residence in close proximity to your dwelling find the above referenced license currently holds a status which carry restrictions from a disciplinary action brought against you as noted below:

License issued on 1 February 1991
Expiry 28 February 2013
Accusation filed on 22 November 2010.
Revocation effective date 4 January 2012

Note: Nguyen, Minh T.N. also covered under Lic #234099 at the time of the date accusation.

Be advised that under California statues “Any person providing certain services for a fee is required to be licensed by the California Board of Barbering & Cosmetology”.

Those services include (but are not limited to) hair cutting, hair dressing and styling, nail care, skin care, removal of superfluous hair, permanent removal of unwanted hair and the application of makeup.

Be advised from concerned local citizens that you may not be within jurisdiction to perform noted services includes in the statutes cited above. This would include the maintenance & care of known male/female/male child relations in current residence at 103 Ford Drive, American Canyon, cA 94503 since early 2010.

Ms. Brandes, be advised that you are potentially in breach of current State of California rules/regulations and subject to fines.

In addition, the American Canyon Filipino community as filthy as it is. [Illegible] unwanted as it is…… doesn’t need to bring additional unwarranted/unlicensed practices which assists in bringing down the already downward spiraling property values in our area.

We are attempting to have our community a law abiding one, without having yet another gang of Filipino scum such as yourself and married daughters who have attempted to assimilate into this once clean non-Filipino dominated area in American Canyon (Napa Junction) which includes those of your female offspring who have aligned themselves with CAUCASION husbands to assist in ensuring their half-breed children have “straight noses” in order to be accepted in non-Filipino society.

Yours Truly,
Concerned American Canyon Neighbors

====end of transcript====

According to a Huffington Post report, Valencia had since reported the letter to the police who are as of that report looking into the matter…

American Canyon Chief of Police Jean Donaldson described the letter as “unusual” in a phone interview with The Huffington Post.

“We really haven’t seen that here before,” said Donaldson. “It’s an unusual event.” The police department is currently investigating the letter to determine whether or not it violates penal codes about hate crimes.

Apparently, American Canyon is dominated by ethnic Filipinos if we are to refer to a comment made by Facebook user ‘Nick Napala’ in Valencia’s post as a credible source of that information; “so were filthy.. yall white people the ones who built the damn city on top of a dumb and in a swamp.. call us filthy. wow. the whole a/c [i.e., Amercian County] is like 95% pino”.

The Filipino community in the United States have long been the target of incidents of alleged race-related discrimination. Recently, for example, a landmark lawsuit was slapped by Filipino nurses in 2010 against the Delano Regional Medical Center in Kern County, California after they were allegedly banned from speaking Tagalog (a southern Luzon dialect) among themselves while in the centre’s premises.

However, there may be reason to argue that incidents of alleged discrimination against Filipinos in the United States may have something to do with what has been described as an unhealthy ego inherent to Filipinos’ collective cultural character. It is possible that an unhealthy collective ego predisposes Filipinos to being relatively quicker to play the victim card when it comes to perceived incidents of racism. In the study “Workplace Discrimination and Health Among Filipinos in the United States” which was published on the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) website, some empirical findings may have confirmed this hypothesis:

Compared with Chinese and Vietnamese Americans, Filipino Americans appear to perceive the highest levels of discrimination, and these levels are fairly similar to those of African Americans.

This seems consistent with what has long been observed to be the general onion-skinned character of Filipinos, evident in the way they are quick to bristle in response to perceived slights. Way back in 2002, the late Clarence Henderson wrote about this “onion skin mentality”. At that time, the dust was just settling after a national lynching was mounted against actress Claire Danes and her famous (and now classic) “Ghastly Manila” remarks…

About four years ago, Claire Danes came to Manila to film Brokedown Palace. After returning to the states, she made several not-very-flattering remarks about Manila in the pages of Vogue and Premiere magazines. Specifically, she described Manila as a “ghastly and weird city,” said that the city “smelled like cockroaches”, and noted that “rats were everywhere”.

The whole country, led by the Manila City Council, was immediately inflamed and up in arms. There was a major move to ban all of Danes’ films in Manila and her name is now considered synonymous with “Ugly American”. Very few politicians or commentators were brave enough to note that Danes’ comments were basically accurate and that something badly needs to be done about the state of the Philippines’ capital city.

[Personal note] In my call center work I have met numerous potential international investors here on fact-finding trips. They come here to compare the Philippines to other alternatives for their offshore facilities. Although they are favorably impressed by the quality of telecommunications infrastructure and the motivated, English-speaking workers, they are uniformly turned off by the physical ugliness of Manila. In our recent call center roundtable at the Asian Institute of Management – attended by the major players in the industry, most of them high-level Filipino professionals from both public and private sector – one of the key policy issues identified for government attention was the need to beautify the area around NAIA, clean up the streets, and otherwise create a more pleasing environment for visiting investors. And how much more important for the tourism industry!

Danes was right. Her Filipinos critics may be correct that she was rude in her tone of expression, but they should at least acknowledge her point and commit themselves to doing something about it.

Of course, this all goes without saying.

[NB: All content published on Facebook referred to in this article were publicly-accessible at the time this article was published (11:50am AEDST 09th Jan 2013).]