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Foreigners in Baguio: Stereotyped or victims of racism?

As a foreigner living in Baguio City, it is easy to be accustomed to racism and stereotyping, which shouldn’t be the case. Before I get into how this plays out in society every day, one must first understand that racism and stereotype are completely different things, albeit very similar. What differentiates one from the other is knowledge and upbringing and it’s what makes them similar as well. A racist person is not someone that can easily be changed; likewise, someone who stereotypes does so because he or she doesn’t know better.

Racism, as the dictionary says, is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. On the other hand, stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a person or thing. This is where the problem stems from. While racists think they are just better than you because of their skin, race, or nationality, stereotypical people act the way they do towards you because it’s how they think society wants them to behave.

In Baguio, like in other places, you would be hard pressed to find a Filipino who would genuinely believe that foreigners too can be broke and have no money. This is because for some reason, they have been made to believe that all foreigners are rich.

Hence, you have situations wherein a foreigner is asked to pay P50 for an apple, which is sold to a Filipino for P10.

You go out with a couple of friends for a drink or a movie and they expect you to pay the whole bill because you’re a foreigner and you are mayaman and since they are Filipinos, then they are the poor ones. This line of thought has made me a recluse and I can’t stake my claim to having one true Filipino friend who befriended me for who I am and not for what I have to offer.

Racism is entirely a different thing and while the level of racism in Baguio has reduced exponentially, there still needs to be some changes before this can be removed entirely. Filipinos have the odd habit of covering their noses when next to a black person on a jeepney or anywhere else or calling us using the “N” word like it is supposed to be cool. This is where knowledge and exposure come in. It pains me that in this day and age, people still think that black people smell like the days of old when we were slaves and sold for royalties such as money, gold, and food among other things.

This has to stop and the first step is educating the young and even the older generation on how the world works today. Being a racist in this present day doesn’t only make you repulsive and distasteful. It shows how ignorant you are. Being a stereotype is the same and while this may be forgiven as 70 percent of the world’s population is stereotype, we should choose to be different and embrace change. In the technological and informative age we live in today with information on your fingertips, there can be no excuse for being a racist or being stereotypical.

Not every foreigner is rich, not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every black person comes from Africa, and please, Africa is not a country. Educate yourselves as that is the one true weapon we ever really need. Knowledge, they say, is power.

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