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by Paula Saraza and Nandika Ravi

 

Social media activism has given people around the world an opportunity to speak out about social issues. The Black Lives Matter movement brought in a surge of social activism after the murder of George Floyd, giving groups the opportunity to take to the web in solidarity to fight against racial injustice.

This is what Mauriene Tolentino, the co-chair of Filipino Youth Fellowship, strongly believes in.  It’s only because youth have now understood their rights and have an open platform to share their thoughts that they’ve started speaking up, she believes. Young people are leaning on social media as a tool to be educated and educate others about issues affecting marginalized communities.

The label ‘woke’ has been thrown around as a pejorative, but Tolentino said for young Pinoys and Filipino-Canadians, it’s not a negative to be aware of what’s changing in the world. She said it’s time for them to use their voices in political and societal issues.

“I think youth have been at the front, calling out racial injustice a lot of the time,” Tolentino said,

“You could see organizations or Filipino youth showing their solidarity through social media or even within our own families.”

Tolentino dismisses claims that social justice advocates are putting on a performance.

“My reaction to those type (being called woke) of comments is that youth are just understanding and taking action for what they know is not right anymore, and I think that’s actually a pretty powerful and empowering step forward.”

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Tolentino encourages the community to also fight anti-Blackness and colourism in Filipino culture.

“A lot of our practices and traditions traits, etc. are rooted in white supremacy and  understandings in colonialism and how that have shaped our culture now,’she said.

“But an obvious cultural tradition that we do or that’s part of our culture is whitening products. That type of culture that’s against being Black or against getting darker.”

Tolentino added that just being a spectator on social media can be interpreted as agreeing with the unfair system faced by the Black community and other marginalized communities.

“There has been work within the Filipino community but we could do better in really taking action, tangible actions beyond sharing this on social media or learning about it on our own.”