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====

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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).]

47 Replies to “Racist letter vs American Canyon Filipino community in Napa County CA goes viral”

  1. First and foremost, the image of the letter in question is suspect. The header reads “The California Department of Consumer Affairs…” lacks the “Seal” of California. ANY and ALL documents and/or letters sent form ANY State, Federal and/or Local Agency will ALWAYS contain the official seal and/or insignia of the corresponding agency. In addition, if you look at the first bend in the paper (License issued…) you can see how the letters are distorted or compressed and then just below, appear normal. Also in this section, notice the paragraph spacing difference on the sides of the page in comparison to the first section at the top. Further, the is NO signature or official stamp at the bottom of the page… My conclusion; this letter was fabricated and is completely FALSE as it did NOT originate from any California State Agency. It is my opinion that this letter, or the image of the letter, was “doctored” in order to foster support from the Filipino community who, most likely, would become enraged without taking a closer look at the image and its questionable faults.

    1. Would that fabrication be used as some evidence that the Filipino community was simply rash to believe things that are showed to them without double-checking? That lack of cross-examining might destroy their credibility, for Christs’ sake.

      1. Nothing so sinister as that. I think the author, most likely connected to person/s with a pending case against them, fabricated the letter KNOWING that most people would be so enraged without bothering to look at the content more closely. In this day and age, people of ALL races are quick to believe anything they see on the internet no matter how ridiculous… I am sure, one the investigating agency digs deeper, charges will be filed against the person who fabricated the letter. I’m pretty sure it is a Felony to forge a California State Document.

        1. I am also sure that the Philippine News Media will pick up this story and run with it even though it is based on an OBVIOUS fake!

        2. All propagandist news agencies will do that. LOL. Look how China took The Onion’s Sexiest Leader Alive article. XD

          LOL, that forger is so screwed.

    2. “straight noses”
      LOL. The person who wrote this must be familiar with the culture and language.

  2. The Filipinos in America need to get over it. Everybody, everywhere in the damn world is discriminated against in one way or the other. They have a whole hell of a lot more rights in the US than I do here in the Philippines. As for the girls wanting American Husbands, I pretty much believe that. What makes them any different than the Filipinas here? As for the place being filthy, I think that filthy in America is different from filthy in the PH. Everything is relative I guess. If they believe they are being singled out and discriminated against they have the courts to remedy that. It does not take a rich person to gain relief in US courts like it does here and the judges are not for sale to the highest bidder. I do not agree with the ugly letter but just like me, they are free to leave the US any time the wish. As a white American I am profiled and discriminated against on a daily basis here in Manila, but no one is forcing me to stay here. I have no rights here but they in fact have all the same rights and priveledges that any other American has, other than voting if they are not citizens. Get over it and be happy you are one of the few that got a visa.

    1. I can’t argue with that Bill. As “foreigners” here in the Philippines, we have absolutely no rights. This subject notwithstanding, I always laugh (as you know) each time Filipinos here and abroad scream and cry foul when they know dam well that here in their own country racism (against anyone foreign) rears its ugly head any time one of us so much as looks cross-eyed at a local!

    2. What makes you think the Filipinos want to leave? The Caucasians have the right to leave the area if it’s too filthy for them.

      1. I didn’t say they wanted to leave. I said they are free to leave. And why should the “Caucasians” leave anyway.? After all it is their country. And what makes you think it was a caucasian that complained? You make a lot of assumptions. Or do you not understand the language well?

      2. Filipinos have the responsibility to keep their place clean, not just for foreigners, but for fellow Filipinos and themselves. Otherwise, they can drown in their own filth. Which they are doing, actually (pagpag, anyone?).

  3. Mga Penoy kulang sa pansin, Der Adobo have low follow, does not convey sophistication compared with neighboring vintners produce.

  4. I’ve been to Napa Valley, CA. It is a blue collar community. Caucasian residents are mostly transplants from the east coast, unskilled and probably farmers where they originally came from but are the better beneficiaries of this growing community. They have a large Hispanic and Asian communities. Filipinos are typically identified as Pacific Islanders with the Hawaiians and the Chamorros from Guam.

    The subject, a Filipino beautician who I would like to believe must be doing good in her business. Beauticians with a good number of regular customers are known to make $60 to $70K per year. A salon owner, possibly up to $130K per year. The letter is addressed to the Filipino woman, not to the Filipino community so my guess is a business competitor wants her out of the community.

  5. Curious. If this were a letter addressed to African-Americans, what would the reaction be? Al Sharpton would be screaming bloody murder on MSNBC, CNN and even on Fox News. Hollywood personalities would be tweeting non-stop and condemning it on talk shows from Ellen and The View to Bill Mahr and John Stewart. Jesse Jackson would release a statement lamenting the return to pre-Civil War conditions for his “people” and organizing street rallies in American Canyon. Eventually, California lawmakers will call for an investigation and possibly a review of the legislation dealing with racial discrimination. Barack Obama might even hold another “beer summit.”

    And yet…Asian-American targets of racism are supposed to “get over it” or “let it go.”

    1. The long term and more robust solution to racism is for the “victimised” party to step up and achieve. Going around stomping your feet about it may result in favourable legislation but will not achieve much in the way of erasing any deeply-entrenched prejudices in the host society.

      I can’t recall the Filipino-Chinese making a really significant issue about it back when they were still selling balut in Manila’s streets. They just did their business under the radar and racked up one achievement after another and accumulated assets slowly and quietly.

      1. Sorry to disagree with you, mate, but racism exists outside of any form of achievement.

        Ethnic minorities have made great strides in finance, academics, science and technology, medicine, sports, arts and humanities, the military, religion, etc. Yet that has not prevented successful people from being targets of racism.

        In fact, achievements by ethnic minorities have been shown to fuel the anger of racists and even prompted attacks.

      2. Precisely my point. It will exist anyway whether you attempt to legislate it out or its victims make good individually. It will exist whether its perpetrators are in power (as Hitler, for example, did) or not (as trailer-trash rednecks do). Indeed, even while Caucasians are unfairly singled out as its stereotypical perpetrators, very few people point out how insitutionalised racism is in many Asian societies — even that of the Philippines.

        The fact is, people of different races are different. And these differences cannot be ignored nor can we pretend they do not exist. The solution is not to pretend that race does not exist but rather to embrace these differences and incorporate the management of these differences into the fabric of our societies.

        1. Basically, the best thing to do is ignore the racial comments. People can do better when blocking out the noise.

        2. benign0, ChinoF,

          I agree with you that legislating behavior does not work. And I am not denying that the best attitude people can adopt — regardless of ethnicity — is to hunker down and get to work building a better society.

          I don’t agree that the answer is to simply ignore racist attacks. Quite often this does not make the attacker lose interest. It emboldens them. It does not distance us from the futility of dealing with the close mindedness of racism. Rather, it tends to convince the attacker that the object of the attack is weak and will fail to react to further abuse. That prompts the racist to commit additional attacks.

          We should recognize that the written words, speech and imagery that racists use, while born out of ignorance, are powerful things that convey some really ugly ideas. They embody HATE. They should not be taken lightly.

          Furthermore, a failure to react can start to convince others that certain ideas that were once held at arms length are actually acceptable. Why not? The target of the attack didn’t seem to mind; there were no consequences, and everyone does it, so…it must be okay. Slowly, they begin to come around to the racist’s point of view.

          At its worst, when racism becomes acceptable, discrimination and abuse can become endemic, even institutionalized.

          When the National Socialists came to power in Germany in 1933 Jews were living in every country in Europe. In western Europe they tended to adopt the culture of their non-Jewish neighbors. Jews could be found in all walks of life, as farmers, tailors, seamstresses, factory hands, accountants, doctors, teachers, and small-business owners. Some families were wealthy; many more were poor. Many children ended their schooling early to work in a craft or trade; others looked forward to continuing their education at the university level. Such was their integration that in Germany, a higher percentage of German Jews fought in World War I than that of any other ethnic, religious or political group.

          Still, even as ideas of political equality and freedom spread in western Europe (beginning as far back as the mid-1800s), Jews were discriminated against, politically and economically. Statutory equality did not reflect the day to day experience. Nowhere in Europe was there any significant opposition by non-Jews, much less protest. Within the Catholic Church, there prevailed an anti-Judaism sentiment, which tended to immunize the Catholic population against the escalating persecution.

          In 1933, the Nazis denounced all foreigners, foreign ideas and declared that Jews, national minorities, Catholics, and Freemasons were “traitors to the nation” and unworthy of inclusion in society. They preached the superiority of Germanic culture and Germanic “blood” and proceeded to implement a vicious policy of slavery and murder that culminated in the death of 6 million Jews throughout Europe.

          You are correct, of course, to criticize Filipinos of being overly emotional, of overreacting. But we should not forget that we humans are capable of really terrible atrocities. And that the most horrific event in human history came about because too many people stood aside and did nothing. Too many people thought that discriminating against one segment of the human race was “okay.”

    2. Damn Johnny. you sound like the only ones in the world that are victims of racism are Asians. Have you led a sheltered life? Sure the race baiters in the US are gonna jump up and down and scream bloody murder if anything out of the way is said about a minority. It is how they make their living.

      1. Never said Asians are the only victims of racism, Bill. But you got to admit, if you listen to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and Hollywood lefties like Whoopi Goldberg, you’d think from their attitude that THEY were the ONLY targets of racism. Worse, it makes them deaf and blind to legitimate criticism. I’ve rarely seen any of this crowd come out in defense of any CAUCASIAN victims. But they’re always quick to weigh in, even for perceived attacks, against a minority they sympathize with

        1. Agreed Johnny, but being caucasian if I said that I would automatically be labeled a racist. Oh wait, mommyjo already did that

      2. Speaking of race baiters making a living off racial tensions, I confess I got something against Jesse Jackson. I find it offensive when a minister purports to be “saving humanity” but runs a gang of thugs to extort millions from legitimate businesses by accusing them of racial discrimination in the media, and forcing them to hire him as a paid “consultant” to help them “fix” their “race problems.”

  6. SO, is the ultra-sensitive Filipino community going to get up-in-arms (and if so, by doing what?), or simply laugh it off. Or if true, do something about it? Ms.Danes remarks were true. MANILA is a frickin hell-hole and even worse to someone who has never seen something like that before as MAYBE she had not.
    If the shoe fits, wear it, after you polish it! If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it…and move on.
    Take racial slurs for what they are, the remarks of the ignorant, and move on!

  7. It seems the “insult radar” of Filipinos has gone into overdrive again, trying to find imagined insults and raising fellow Filipinos to an outrage to try and fake power and build up their “pride.” But what’s only building up is their idiocies.

  8. The comments of Bill Steffen and Jetlag are hard to swallow. Reeks of contempt.I live and work in UP Los Banos next to the International Rice Research Inst. where foreigners of all colors abound. You are way too general in saying foreigners are discriminated upon here. More often than not they are ignored or left alone. Fact is Filipinos are way too hospitable and accommodating to foreigners, much more so if they’re Caucasian, almost to the point that it’s annoying. Unless of course you’re a rude foreigner. Then really no one is stopping you from leaving. I am not onion-skinned and don’t tolerate ill-mannered FilAms, but there are comments that can’t just be disregarded. Your last line visa comment is insulting. And there’s no need to insult @Mike either. Everyone in my family has a 10-yr US visa and it’s never a cause for any of us to jump up and down, not all Pinoys are crazy to be in your country. But whenever we are there we behave and watch our mouths. It’s called respecting your host country.

    1. Thank you so much by honoring me and my fellow foreigners by “tolerating” us. It is nice to know how we are thought of in this country. As for being a “rude foreigner” I will try to mend my ways. First I will contribute more to the Red Cross than I already do and I will feed more of the street children than I do now. I will also bow and apologize to every Filipino I know for coming here and contributing more to the economy than most of them do. Again, let me thank you for informing me that I am such a lowly creature here in the Philippines. God bless you Your Highness.

  9. To ALL: Let me make this as clear as possible. I am against racial, discriminatory and bigoted comments, ideas and actions in any form and against anyone. However, and my response to Bills’ comment notwithstanding, it is my opinion that the letter in question is fraudulent. 1) The letter did NOT originate from any California State Agency. 2) Portions of the letter have been clearly altered to give the impression of authenticity. 3) The sentence structure and grammar used in the last paragraph suggests that portion was not written by the same person who composed the preceding sections. 4) The sentence structure and grammar used in the last paragraph suggests that portion was not written by a CAUCASIAN (“CAUCASION” as it appears in the letter is incorrectly spelled). Further, it has been my experience that White people in the US rarely refer to themselves as Caucasian. They will simply say White or American… These points and those I’ve mentioned in my first comment offer points of contention insofar as the validity of the letter is concerned. In plain English; the letter was fabricated therefore the racial content of the letter should be treated as suspect having questionable origins…

    Mommyjo; As a foreigner living here in the Philippines for some time now, I can safely say that we are “tolerated” here but the FACT is we have NO rights whatsoever. Filipinos acting “way too hospitable and accommodating” is NOT an example of a RIGHT. It is an example of conditioned subservience.

    1. If you look at my post and mommyjos. I think her post is a whole hell of a lot more racist than mine.. So her and her family have 10 year visas? Hmmmmmm that should tell you something right there. Racism has been, is, and always will be here in the world. Any of you that think it will disappear by being politically correct are delusional. The best way to deal with racism is to ignore it, like I do. Also mommyjo please present me with some facts to back up your emo diatribe.

      1. okay you’re the best. your words say more about you than anyone in this blog site and I am amazed that your racist comments are tolerated here. So don’t bother to respond I am forever out of this site starting now. Good luck to anyone sitting next to an angry foreigner like you. I don’t owe you anything. It’s funny that you suspect anything about us having a visa except for the fact that we can afford to travel anytime we wish. And I cringe at your mention of the word God.

        1. I don’t think I mentioned God anywhere in any of my posts. What racist comment are you talking about? And as far as you being out of here forever: Thats what usually happens when a party does not have a valid argument other than flapping their onion skinned lips. That being said. You know nothing about racism other than your own racism of foreigners, caucasians in particular. It shows….

        2. @mommyjo

          Which part of Bill’s comment do you want us to censor? He’s simply stating his views. I don’t think his Filipina wife would tolerate him if he was really racist. I think you two just got off on the wrong foot. I can actually understand what he’s saying about foreigners not having a lot of rights in the Philippines. It’s even written in our constitution.


    2. Lol. I’m Filipino by blood and even I suspect the letter is fraudelent. Look at the phrase “straight noses” alone. I’ve only known Filipinos to use that as insult or description. Lol

  10. Interestingly enough… The facebook “post” where the letter appeared has been removed… Maybe someone finally took the time to take a closer look at the image. LOL

  11. Why is this even news? And what reason would the police have to want to question the author of this letter? I guess its not enough that they’re trying to destroy the Second Amendment, but now we’re going after the First too?

  12. america needs the philippines – for toilet cleaners and child sex slaves.
    of course they discriminate. the 1st world does not integrate 3rd world immigrants easily, especially if they do not have high education and values. the philippines is its own worst PR so must not adopt a ‘3 monkey’ approach to criticism but get better at being global citizens. the west tolerates them as long as they serve a purpose, but dont respect them. the politicians are ti blame for that but others get tarred with the same brush.
    sad, but true.

  13. I think it’s pretty normal to react about it whilst taking measures against such acts. However, onion-skinned Filipinos will surely mull over this issue beyond weeks or so, blown up to vast, illogical proportions. Some just need to feel relevant to the vast ocean of the human population and whine like a cry baby. Very KSP

  14. So this is supposedly a racist letter? Who in the right mind would believe that these anonymous persons who signed this letter were real Americans? Who knows this could have been perpetrated by a Chinese, a Mexican, or another Filipino who had an Anti-Filipino mentality, hiding under the name, “Concerned American Canyon Neighbors”? Whoever he or she or they may be, I don’t even wanna lift a finger because anyone who uses fake name just to hate doesn’t have the balls to come out in the open. So this got me thinking why this author even bothered to write an article out of this lameness? And so what this letter has gone viral? Did this article absolutely prove that all Filipinos are really “onion-skinned”? I highly doubt that.

    1. It does remind me of that Jimmy Kimmel commercial about the cheese-top sandwich.

      It takes a familiarity and understanding of the culture and language to make an article that strikes straight to the heart, regardless of intent (humor, or trolling).

      I believe the author is also a Filipino or at least, someone who usually interacts with them.

      Trolling and reacting to trolls is fun for observers.

      1. Actually, this post is intended for benigno. Anyway…

        Maybe the author has familiarity with the Filipino culture. But so as any other average Filipino. And do you really think that a sweeping statement against all Filipinos without basis is anything rational? Or was it just an impulse of stupidity?

        And about Jimmy Kimmel’s comment on KFC commercial. the late-night host slash comedian was not insulting the Filipinos. He was just making fun of that weird cheese top burger. So anymore lame racist ideas?

        By the way, posting a relevant comment about the topic or expressing logical opinion is not trolling. If not, then what other worse term can you label to your lame activity of “reacting to trolls”?

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