Dr. Bea Rodriguez-Fransen
DescriptionThis presentation focuses on how the U.S. government systematically used language and images that led to structural color discrimination in the Philippines, which served as rhetoric and justification for their motivation to become a full-fledged imperialist and start the Philippine-American War in 1899. Through a critical discourse analysis (Mullet, 2018) of texts and political cartoons—including Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands” (Kipling, 1899/1929)—this presentation traces one of the roots of modern Filipino colorism. Filipino colorism is an overt dimension of Filipino colonial mentality, a multifaceted construct that has been conceptualized by Filipino American psychologists David and Okazaki (2006). Defined as a form of internalized oppression, colonial mentality is a specific consequence of colonialism, and characterized by a perception of ethnic and cultural inferiority. Through a discourse of infantilization and barbarism, various texts and political cartoons helped shape the public’s perception of the Filipino as inferior, savage, and underdeveloped, consequently providing the rationale for the U.S. government’s decision to colonize and oppress the Philippine people. Today, Filipino colorism remains ubiquitous in the Philippines, as evidenced by the continued success of the skin whitening industry and skin whitening advertisements (Singson, 2017).