What is it about?

Filipina/o university students navigate ethnic identity and mainstream inclusion in Toronto and Los Angeles. While Filipina/os in Toronto were aware of multiculturalism policy in Canada, they remained baffled by the everyday experiences of prejudice and discrimination and the lack of attention to stigma against them. The Toronto interviewees tended to adopt a “blame the victim” approach that is associated with neoliberalism. The interviewees in California, by contrast, are more likely to emphasize the role of social institutions in the status hierarchy of Filipina/os in respect to the mainstream. Although the United States has no federally-funded policies for ethnic groups, there is a level of political activism, particularly in higher education, that has led to social change.

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Why is it important?

The findings caution against an overreliance on policies to address the past effects of discrimination. The neoliberal strategy of destigmatization puts no focus on institutions and social contexts as explanations to why some groups could be having a harder time fitting into the mainstream than other groups, such as experiences of racism, classism, sexism, etc. By contrast, ethnic studies as a movement and curriculum in the United States provides students with conceptual tools to critique the social structures locally and internationally that constrain individuals, rather than say that Filipina/os simply must work harder.


This is a story from the voices of Filipina/os who engage in some level of student organization about the need for critical discussions of race and ethnic relations in universities. Such discourse is more likely to happen in California, but Toronto is beginning to address this need, too, even in the absence of a Civil Rights Movement comparable to the United States, as a number of scholars critique racial hierarchies and establish spaces for Filipina/os to heal, such as performing arts venues. These efforts demonstrate the enormous work needed to help people truly feel included in their very diverse societies.

Vincent Laus
California State University, Stanislaus

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The centrality of neoliberalism in Filipina/o perceptions of multiculturalism in Canada and the United States, Identities, April 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/1070289x.2019.1611071.
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