I recently stumbled upon the book The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race. The first chapter is available to read in the link so I read that. And… I’m disappointed tbh.
For obvious reasons I’m super interested in the history of how pilipinx have been racialized throughout our history. Unfortunately, the historical framework that this book uses leaves a lot to be desired. Not only is it inaccurate but… it misses out on a lot of the interesting details. To be fair, its quite possible that the details get hashed out in the parts of the book I haven’t read.
But… this post isn’t for discussing the filipinx side of things but rather to look at his historical account of race and immigration in america….
Many of the early European immigrants who made the trek across the Atlantic during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were poor and uneducated… Although they were European and legally categorized as white, they weren’t always treated as white.
Now. People who’re familiar with my writing about race as history and science probably know that I think this is the most bullshit kind of statement a person can make. Yes… I looked through his footnotes regarding this section and he cites Ignatiev – that guy responsible for the ‘how the irish became white’ trash that we all have to deal with now.
To understand what is wrong with that quotation you need to ask yourself ‘what does it mean to be treated as white?’ particularly since Ocampo also notes that they were legally white. The examples he gives are the usual ones of anglo-saxon chauvanism, and them being mean to the irish and other similarly despised white ppl.
What does it mean to be legally white? It meant they could own land, vote, become naturalized citizens, and whole host of other privileges not afford to anyone other than white people at the time. It would seem on this account, then, that they were indeed treated as white.
This post is actually about the… pernicious influence that whiteness studies has had on overall critical race theory.