Migrant Oral Histories

Oral Histories Project

Interviewee: Mira Yusef

Interviewer: Thaddeus Logan
April 8, 2015

Click HERE to hear Mira’s first Interview

 
Transcript #1
M: I was born in the Philippines. I was born in Irapapang which is in the, it’s in the island of Luzon island of Luzon and it’s the middle of the island. So basically it’s a lot it’s a very farm it’s a there’s a lot of farms and basically the rice, is where the rice are being grown because it’s a really good land because the fact that there was there is a volcano so little came
T: I don’t really know anything about it.
M: OK So that building is basically where archipelago Cinnabar acapella go with seven thousand one hundred islands but it could be more based on if it’s a low tide or high tide. So there might be less islands it might just be popping because it’s high tide and this is going to disappear because it’s not enough water so. So what else can I tell you that it’s very it’s island and then seven thousand one hundred so there’s three basically two big island or three big islands which is the Luzone and in the middle part which is a bunch of islands together which is Vissias and then Mindanao which is that the other island that is close to that Malaysia Sabah. You know so and you know where we are?
T: But I know Southeast Pacific?
M: That’s close to Japan and Great China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. So there’s also this kind of thing that are we the Pacific Islanders are we are the Asian? OK? But that’s because of us but we’re kind of like at the edge of basically, of the Pacific islanders because we’re kind of like I was sitting right on the Pacific but it’s also the South China Sea which is kind of. Kind of you know right there.
T; Do you have a preference that…
M: You know I think for me because where people I think of Indonesia Indonesia is also an archipelago but just Asian I guess but I don’t have a preference because in some way you know we have we’re very island cultures it was Philippines is basically colonized by Spain for about five hundred years like fifteen something I forgot, the fourteen hundreds and that was like the time when Spain was trying to shut it out and we kind of got lost, and Magellan ended up in the Philippines killed by natives and then continued on his crew continued on the first or calm. They were the first group that basically went around the world. So right? So then after so Philip the Philippines basically colonized by Spain and then eight hundred ninety eight there were like you know a lot of like a lot of indigenous Filipinos they want to be free from Spain so there’s already like this so-called independence movement within the island. And then eight hundred ninety eight and that was the time that US basically had a war in Spain because basically then United States took over the Marianas Islands Cuba and Puerto Rico and the Philippines. So so we have connections with Latinos in a lot of ways because we have the same so-called colonizers say, both Spanish colonized and then so I think that I think for me colonisation had deeply like influenced my life. Right so but part of that too and also influenced deliberate or part of it because for me I think that is the beauty of being Filipino because we’ve always fought for our freedom that’s why I’m doing this kind of work and I’m on the social activism because I think this is in my blood because we’re like the former and just be honest with you because anthropology for me it’s like problematic because you have a very colonial you know it’s very colonial for me. I think I’m doing and for me right where did anthropology come from? Things like white people studying us! Which I feel is just really just kind of problematic right. And then so for me I think when you think about when I use that “O my God”. OK So there’s a lot of being honest and be fun being a point it’s always about like European Americans always like studying the ones who are like us or like a colonized right. So for me it’s so important that my whole I don’t know like a very much into the colonization kind of movement because for our whole life pro
T: Procolonization? Or Decolonization?
M: Decolonization, you should you know if we have our own so-called shit right. As a former colony we have our internal racism within us and that we don’t like our own people that we think that European features are better so that for me it’s like it’s so it’s so much like that influenced my life in the way that I see my life where it’s going how do I do the work. So that kind of yeah yeah so basically born in the Philippines in an area where it’s more a very farm like and
T: I think you said rice farming.
M: Yeah rice farming and other stuff and also I’m I’m the Philippines is you know it’s like there’s not one language. There’s like I forgot how many languages but each so called groups have different language you have ethno-linguistic group so I’m from the group called compapang that would speak Kapampangan. OK OK so we’re from the province of pumpanga. So you speak you speak a dialect or a language called Kapampangan. OK So and then different other groups around the area will also have different dialect. So it’s not just one language you speak. I speak um Kapampangan just a Kapampangan. It became the main language which is Filipino now shortly but valuable but it’s in the it’s in the Manila area the capital of the Philippines Manila and then that whole so called province are called Pampanga. The people that became the so called the main language of the Filipinos you know that that that basically united as one people. But then the Philippines also but then a lot of other groups see that Kapampangan as also very like colonizing in some way because all of a sudden this one main language is being imposed upon us while the other languages are seen as less right because there’s different languages.
T: How far away were you from the capital city?
M: It’s just like maybe an hour or two hours. Very small it’s a small island spot. Depending on the traffic the traffic is hell. So basically it’s oh so right so and we’re known as so called, we can cook very well the fact that you know the land is very fertile therefore there’s more there’s more plants that we can grow near the river. There’s one river that’s really that was there so there’s fish just just very So the people are people I know and I think the best cooks that they could go, they have a good cuisine too, so that’s what we’re known as.
T: Do you like to cook.
M: No my mom does, my Mom of course you know I’m not into cooking, but I can tell so I think that’s also part of it also known as like very fierce. They fought against like different like they fought against Spain and the Americans and then also against Japan because World War two the Japanese came there and was there. For so many years because the Americans were there actually there for Japan came and invaded us so it’s like my own family that my grandfather on my mother’s side is like part of the part of a movement to fight against the Japanese. So he was like very fierce and then the volcano or the mountain that’s basically where my hometown and I that is basically there’s a volcano or a mountain and a lot of the rebels basically had hid in the mountains. OK So usually like so-called revolutionary movements or independence movement are really like always in the mountain, but that’s where the hide even though to the Spaniards did things the same way that they did. That’s basically the whole bigger picture of where I’m coming from and then so I was born in nineteen sixty eight so I’m forty six now, so sixty eight was also the time where Marcos dictatorship like nineteen seventy two separately and early seventy’s Ferdinand Marcos was elected and then martial law was basically declared because
T: This is twenty years after independence?
M: No! We OK eighteen ninety eight. Basically then it’s a colonize you know the colonizers shifted like Spain to Americans and that Americans basically gave independence right after the World War two nineteen forty six so the Philippines was basically independence and I think nineteen forty six of the war right? Nineteen forty six so there was a difference you know like so-called precedent but nineteen. But then in the sixty’s there were also like movement of like the communist movement there’s a lot of like social democratic movement with her after basically the cold war. Right. So for me I like the context of my life is not much connected with the bigger political context like so. That is basically the Cold War for the anti-communist era and at the same time in the Philippines there were also like a lot of Muslim rebellion nineteen sixties. So the Philippines basically the south the southern island called Mindanao it’s the Muslim area. Now if you look at the area it’s very much connected with Indonesia and Malaysia. So I believe that if Spain didn’t come to the Philippines that whole island like growing up will all be Muslims OK but then basically Spanish coming and bringing Christianity are Catholic and there’s ended that movement of the Islamization of the island. Right because my people like the Kapampangan are basically like coming from Sumatra which is Indonesia. OK my people are from Indonesia out of came to came to Kapampangan and basically you know there are some last names are like very Muslim names, right? And that our language is very much like connected with Indonesia. OK And like a lot of the Filipino languages were the from the Malayo-Polynesian language family got so basically So for me that I grew up Catholic but because of my anti-colonization kind of thinking I converted to Islam when I was like in nineteen or twenty years ago because of that I feel like you know it’s not something I get. But you know it’s like if Spain didn’t come to the Philippines, we would have been more connected with our South Asian so-called family, so we have that connection with Malaysia Indonesia and in the Philippines because we’re connected people.
T: So because of the colonization, it de-connected things.
M: Yes So all of the sudden you will have Mindanao and then that and that the Muslim and then the Basias and Luzone became just like very much like Christianize OK right was very Catholic like so Catholic they don’t even have like divorce is not even allowed until today it’s the only country in the world or maybe two countries that isn’t divorce is not allowed so that’s like so backwards. So during the sixty’s, there was also this movement of the Muslims, but that is because they want their own land back, they see the Christians as basically taking away their land and also like the indigenous populations, they don’t have a concept of like property. So when Christians will go down south. I’ve heard stories of like because of a fish that all of the sudden like these acres and acres of land is being given to someone who just gave them fish but then for them is that or someone gave us something but given the communal land, so there’s no such thing as private land right. So that’s basically like they were like totally like lost land because of the differences in what the concept or what is the meaning of proper private property for them everything is owned by the community for that matter and I can plant anything, that plant maybe is mine but I have to share it with everyone. So because of that they’ve lost land so they were fighting, so in the sixty eight seventies there were like. So basically the Filipino government was fighting the N.P.A. which is the New People’s Army which is the communist one and then they’re also fighting the so-called the Muslim group so the M.I. the M.L.F. right? There big…
T: Were those two groups connected or just …
M: You know, that is so interesting! Because I think if I did the research on that and in some way it almost got connected I think in about the seventy’s because Libya what is Qaddafi has really like supported the Muslim movement in the Philippines of the seventy’s and for me Qaddafi has is almost like the very…it’s like he combines Islam and communism together he even had his book and I think there’s like a connection like back in the day there’s a connection but in the film is there’s no point in there not really connecting maybe you know I’m not sure about how would you know but basically because of the movement, Marcos declared martial law. He was head of the Philippines at the time he was the president of the Philippines. So he became a dictator or there’s a military dictatorship because he said there is this communist rebellion and then you sure it’s all kind of like now right if you look at like history and today could kind of compare it isn’t using like certain, you know using so-called like movement as a way to say clamp down the community. I’m going to have a dictatorship because if they’re going to mess up our country so there’s always this fear, so I basically grew up under the military dictatorship where at twelve you aren’t supposed to go outside. So like nineteen seventy, you have to be cleared
T: When you’re twelve years old?
M: I was like No I was basically there like I was born in sixty eight like before when that was declared and I remember just like we cannot be outside and then there’s also like when you cannot talk about politics because all of the social activists were basically were basically like detained and some of them were killed
T: Because they were antigovernment?
M: Yes they see them as antigovernment. OK so you will have like students at the University of the Philippines that was just missing. And then straight up like military dictatorship and that was supported by the U.S. right there was a U.S. military bases in the Philippines and naval base and then the Clark Airbase, So Clark is basically based in the Philippines where my province is. So that is basically how I grew up is in this like fear that my mom will think they’re not allowed to talk about politics because they could be basically taken away and then not be seen any more. So but there’s also been those who came to this country for that because for safety because of like asylum a political prosecution. So that is basically how I grew up and then my mother my mother’s story is also very interesting because. She’s from a very poor peasant almost peasant like family you know they’re not rich they’re not land owners they’re peasant and they basically you know from the land you know the farmers of my my grandfather was from that kind of group. But then my father the land owning like their families very rich they had you know they just owned major land in Oriat but then the province of where we’re from.
T: That’s the City in the Province?
M: It’s the town and then the provinces Pampanga. Oriat is where I’m from but the town the little town that we’re from. So they’re land owning family. So then here is the peasant girl right. So my mother my grandmother was very much against that relationships and so they eloped. How they met it’s really interesting how he courted her. So much of Filipino culture is like courtship. Writing her every day like we still have those letters, like love letters that was written to her in this blue paper, with like really cool pen. You know that the old school way and I think I think he also have different drafts of it so we also have different drafts of those letters to her and then you know even sealed them with you know that sealer is a rubber stamp. OK So you know he’s like totally old school and you still have those letters my mom still have those letters. You just so interesting because reading them and I think the courtship was for one year and I think he Every day he wrote, oh my god right? Like what the hell, so that was just like the Romantics of course who he was who the hell is like a woman who’s getting like letters every day and wouldn’t say no right. So you have someone who like brings them to her. So so basically they elope and then they had me in and you know basically get my grandmother on my father’s side It wasn’t you know like he just she just needed to accept it. But my father died a year later
T: After you were born?
M: After my sister was so to sixty eight I was born my sister was born in sixty nine sixty nine that my father died in December but he was working which is in another province but it’s closer to the ocean and it’s where the U.S. military base, so he was working I don’t know where he was working but he’s one of the engineers so I don’t know what it was, but I’m sure but he was basically we can check that was it like a paycheck and then going back home, he had his motorcycle. So he had a motorcycle so there was a big accident and then he died. So from then on my mother was basically became a single mother from sixty nine until like in the nineteen eighties. But then my mom was a single mother and like they basically she needed to work, she needed to support us so one of her uncles owned some businesses in a Olongo Pocedee in the area where there is the U.S. military base. So the whole economy of that city or town is very much like centered on caring for the military. So you’ll have clubs, you will have hotels you will have apartments you know and it’s near the ocean it’s right on the ocean across the bay you know. So then so I basically my mom was working for uncle-owned businesses like hotels and bars and clubs. So when you think about bars and clubs these are like basically there’s prostitution because the hotel is not for like tourists. It’s for basically hotels for the military men when they come in and they come and basically procure a woman and they will just have sex there. OK So that was like in the military like straight up military is the military very much centered on objectification of women and girls and it was also interesting with Olongopo. OK so this sixty’s seventy’s that’s just the beginning. Like it’s at the edge of the civil rights movement. So for me also you connecting like what is going on domestically right here you have the civil rights movement finally black people have their right they could go to like certain, so there’s that that kind of a transition but you can also see in those military bases space right where does the so-called red light district for white men and black men are separated. Well yeah so you will have to for a black man it’s called the jungle just like straight up racism. Right and then you have the white of the typical the white male service men will have to country music, black men you will have the soul or whatever right at that time. It’s very much like so separated by race. So even though such an interesting life as a kid I didn’t understand that until I got here and I understand like the civil rights movement the black power movement and then how it’s all connected with what’s going on in this one town this one military you know like Olongopo City and separate it. So you will have like. So basically I grew up in that kind of surrounding because my mom moved there when I was about six or seven or so and then so we lived in Olongopo City and I still see those differences but I cannot really name them because I don’t understand it. Right?
T: Because you’re a little kid at this time?
M: Yeah and I don’t really understand about racism or civil rights movement the difference between black and white but then you know you hear things like oh yeah you know that woman had a kid with a black dude so those kids are not as pretty as the ones like half white so it’s almost like you can see you know you know now I’m like realizing that dang that’s like so deep. And then there’s also like stories of like my mom will tell me now like she said like some of the like the ones who were being prostituted are like basically like twelve year old thirteen year old who when you think about that sex trafficking now she’s here. You think about all this like children being sold at this age but that’s not something new that always been like happening and I think and then having that military presence totally like supported that that kind of thinking. So it’s almost like and it what’s so interesting even like radio stations when there’s a big military ship work coming in. They give it a like announced on the radio station because again the women will be ready to make money.
22:30
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So for me is that so then so right so there you can see now and then because of that because it it’s totally has influenced my life like I did not I can name it but now thinking about it. But then for me it’s like there’s something wrong with this right. There’s like the sexualization of young Filipino women and and then girls as well and then so we basically lived in the long of the CD but I also went to a Catholic school because the best schools are usually Catholic schools and then my mom was making money so therefore we have the privilege to go to a private school that is run by Catholic which is like just a bit right. Jeff was father like basically the best educators. So basically But for me I like the Catholic school is kind of the edge of the red light district mains like district So basically every time I go to school I have to walk through the red light district to go to the Catholic school which for me was like oh this is just. You know it’s just so interesting like you know like going through the street and then you see all these clubs and bars you see women outside specially if there’s a you know a ship and then you see military men and then be going to the school which you can paradoxically right as a Catholic school and then this whole thing of like an actual reality of prostitution right there this is for you as a little kid during the day walking to school. Yeah and and. Also what’s so interesting with this is like OK so they also my my my my uncle also all the bars and bars and clubs. So there might be times that my mom is working at the bar because she needed to help and she was managing the business. So you believe that there were times I would sneak in like maybe at eleven o’clock in the evening and I will see like so called like stupid show I was like six seven eight. Next seeing that and we’re not supposed to be there but but I have to like maybe get my mom for something but that was like the reality is like almost like for me like it was like it’s almost like normal life for you know when I feel like in my head I can still see that person who was back stripping and like trying to do a lap dance with and I mean I still in my head because I was like that right and then and then and then and then but then we get to know the women who are doing this work and then my mom is friends with them so there’s no stigma. Some of the stigma but in the same time I think my mom was so open about it we cannot judge this women as a matter fact sometimes you have to like build systems with them I think she herself in my opinion is a feminist but Ken that doesn’t understand what feminism is about but it’s already practicing it because she sees it and then she doesn’t like the stigma of like a prostitute. She will still be friends with them and we’ll have that conversation with them and then sometimes their kids will be hired as one of the workers of the hotel with a club so they might be like you know there’s the one who will be cleaning the rooms writes a hotel cleaner she will need someone to check in and check out the costume is so so sometimes the kids of prostituted women are going to be working the photos or bars for giving them also like the employment so basically I live in a hotel like where like it’s a fact right. So basically I know what it is but I can’t name one. What’s going on but all I know is that when you know like sometimes I help let washing and I mean just so it’s so amazing that we have to take a run we have to wash them by hand it’s not by school as a kid and just like playing with water or whatever and you have to like hang them up and I just helped out and because my mom was work with one of them and the manager got nothing else to do it right. So that all of these like how I grew up without this you know like this very much like I think in some way I think that wasn’t really the reason why I’m doing this kind of work and it seemed that you know I can’t analyze it at that moment but not until I got to I became much more aware and then that was for the right to grow up. But this I cannot blame my mom because she needed to do what she needed to and then she did not want to leave us in the province with my grandmother because she wants to be with her kids. Right. But then at the same time I’m glad that she didn’t leave our my grandmother because also that kind of made me a better that that experience has led me to like the ones who are here. Right right there’s a reason why that happened. But those like the local quakes so interesting because one time I was like I think I was like eleven and eleven where I was just outside of the hotel and just playing with like I don’t think even my mom knows where we are most of the time because everyone takes care of their kids her age really can you. Yet you did even though maybe in the prop it up in the province in my father my grandmother has a house and then her and then there’s that other houses that’s connected with the family. So in one compound the old lived in one compound so people the family members will watch your kids for you get you get so-called spanking uncle because then so you and everyone have the responsibility for that child. So it’s very much like that. So that’s basically the president also moved through that feeling when you go through the city going to claim where the concept is very much like you know your you know that your neighbors like almost become your family and like watch for you trip you get can’t you give something back by not your uncle but maybe just your uncle because your neighbors don’t have the same role for the other departments you know. HAM Yes but I’m not sure what I should be honestly I don’t really know much it’s because I think that was like my mom wasn’t even you know I don’t remember all I remember just playing a lot with my mates around here and we all like my cousins you know like we all move in the same area we visit each other so one time I was outside and then the security guard of the school saw me and he was like does tell why are you here. And was like why didn’t you know. And he was like shocked. So then it’s always like this thing I think there was a rumor in my school like my mom’s a prostitute you know because it’s so true and there’s bars and clubs for me and there’s also that statement and I like to be clean and women come from. If people know that your proposal it’s always like this assumption that you are a prostitute or if you’re with a white man or a black dude or an American they always assume that you are a process that’s just that was their type because the majority of them because you know are they know that all of the order for this Clark Air Base are in a CD or for that matter. So anyone who happened to marry someone who’s not you know they always have that assumption but not all of them are right. So they’re always like the stereotype the been made for me that was also like you know I didn’t have a problem with that but for me it’s like well you know that’s kind of interesting right. So at the age of twelve basically and he had asked me. Go with her to England so she was my auntie is married to a Filipino U.S. Navy. So Filipinos can basically be recruited to be in the Navy because of our relationship between the US and you know that the U.S. Navy the U.S. Navy that maybe can basically recruit Filipinos because we’re former or former Kerry Clinton right got it. So so if the mills are basically then being recruited they’re not like US citizen they’re not like green card holders but there is just this understanding between the Philippine government and the U.S. government that you know can be basically recruited the military is of the sixty’s I think fifty’s right because it’s only like what twenty years now and that we had our independence or we still had that kind of relationship and also there’s a military base. So therefore So my my mom basically was seeing someone an American who was a military recruiter. OK OK So because he was renting one of the apartments that’s how they met. So I have like uncles who basically were U.S. Navy but they were not like US citizens and they were not green card holder but they were Filipino but they were recruiting also that So a lot of the men out of the place they want to be they want to join the military they want to get to the U.S. against colonization shrinking it is the same as the women the women want to marry someone who is in the military because it’s like better life. I thought it was still good economically to make a dollar in back seven efforts that might now which is about thirty forty or so at that time it’s a big it’s basically that it’s not as you know with the economy was sure this was under the dictatorship. OK So so there’s a lot of the military is married to a U.S. naval U.S. Navy but but Navy at that time where could they be Noah are treated like black men in the military. So they cannot go lower. Are the boys you know the captain and officers they cannot be officers they cannot have those high kind of they cannot have high ethical status because they are just boys are hassled I mean they like doing the service in the ship. So that’s what they were doing although they’re like educated that college you know cause you know that from the family but then that was just a way to get this country so she is married to my uncle is in the mill in the U.S. Navy. So they were in they were in Wales. So basically then that’s when I ended up in Wales with her book so I went and wills when I was about twelve thirteen to be in to go to school right and then from then my mom married my married her husband that she was seeing her and they came to Iowa because so Sol thirteen so I moved to eighty two. So eighty two I left the Philippines on my own to go to England I was with my aunt for one year in the U.K. and then I came here because my mom married her husband so I came here in eighty to the book and I went to Roosevelt High School and he’s got a great we remain so. So I was there for it I was a mature adult very kind of him. So it’s very white shirt time because it wasn’t diverse yet for those three and then eighty six I went to I didn’t I did not know how to apply for college or going to resign and have a drink for like a dress or I was going to write like what the hell am I doing and even though I’ve been asked not right now I think of my mom doesn’t want to do it. There’s not to do that stuff so. But I’m going to drink tonight just for a semester and dropped out and then two friends of mine were moving to San Francisco so all of my relatives are in the Bay Area. All of them. Majority of them are seventy to eighty six they asked me but for me they want to come to San Francisco with us we’re driving like yesterday which sold my car to throw that I drove one of the car and they drove the van so we went like January seventh we drove from the morning just on a whim. Yeah right when my mom was just a month before I know just like that was when I was in a very just like I’m going to slow whatever happens happens next and they were like I was in the pump which failed. Oh I was a straight edge. OK so I let my horse that I had and I think all the D.C. punk scene I mean to say that I’m so much into that but there were also street showing one who asked me to write. So basically I just went with her and they were like we see it at the maximum rock N roll house and then it was just like what it is that when we first moved there we stayed at maximum rock N roller and met him your one not it was like you know it was even dead a gel of the Kennedys road going over the M.R.I. with I don’t know like I got no idea what I was doing so then you know from there. So a friend of mine who went who I went with like their couple they broke up and then it for me but I very much like she wanted to move to a house that they have any cockroaches because we live like one. We found an apartment on financials which is back and it was cheap. That’s evidence go back and look. She’s only seven and then she has one and like God is cockroaches gotta move to the Castro area. OK So capture area but then I would like to live with these people because this is going. No my nerves if you are going to fire so I was then a volunteer at the anarchist bookstore about together one history. OK so I was I know my story. Hell I know people write what they have eighty seven seventh’s the score you know and he hits like a huge job too. Yeah yeah yeah so I was one of the volunteers and bound to get a bookstore look at America’s bookstores I was a volunteer there and then they said hey you know what there’s a there isn’t a room that’s open on at the artist’s house on Ashbury and around then yeah sure and the requisite one fifty you see he lived on Haight Ashbury I lived on Ashbury and dollar OK like one block away from hate flying so I was living on seven nineteen asked Barry which is right across the creek that house right now I think. No I don’t think so many deadheads and I live with like that they’re not dead but they’re just like really cool people said we’re like very movement oriented right there in the artist they’re just different. I don’t even have a printing press downstairs in the basement shut all schools or school printing press where you have to beg. Yeah because it’s the back are to keep our house of that because back into the aspirate that full of like you know these and every Right so it’s connected with bound together so in some way that Haiti was a ruling that sucked so I just look at I’m sure I do not have a car is basically more almost up to Boston to seventy ashtray so the beginning of my life. San Francisco sure I was really you know I was like oh my God So I think I turned eighteen there I turn eighteen. Go in when I was seventeen when I left and I turned eighteen when I was in some of the chickens. No pizza’s huge at this time right. Or not it if it’s in a starting phase. OK Around that time in a starting city. Yes it’s not like I think it’s just starting to know about it you know and I think and Castro is the main hub for the gay gay movement in some way so that was kind of and for me it’s like there’s all this innocent about that new to politics because I really didn’t understand and I don’t do that I don’t want because I don’t really understand and here I am in a place where it’s like everything is happening and don’t understand it. Sure it’s always been like provided that some of the opportunity to meet different people I mean who would like me to be at the M.R. house and be like at the article and then even meeting job and crap like that only that whatever and then you know we all even in a warehouse place in Emeryville when we were when I you know. Good morning. So when we were like trying to look for a place like warehouse but now that they no longer there. OK now it’s like gentrified ever so gently so that is like. Yeah and they’re also like in a polygraph test point. So then from there on seventeen Ashford So then I just like it that the corporative in some way. Right right. So you did all you did all the time and the majority of my roommates were that musician or band for that maybe Benson now or maybe famous even though some of them are dancers like in very very like progressive like contraband. I mean all this like very progressive ones and then we did composting vintage I was at that time. Micro-credit straight edge right. So then began and if I don’t know. So then I bike a lot. That was my mode of transportation and clearly remember that I was fit I have two bikes I do not want to be. So I. Like when I was just going in and like it was work I remember work my first job there was in the engineering firm. OK so I was working for an engineering firm just like doing the mail or whatever and then but I did nothing and I left and just found jobs here and there until I started working for a vegan bakery in no lethality. So it was like that to me that piece of honey so I has to like big like I have to like right my bike on Castro bitterness right to get to work at four o’clock in the morning to like open the bakery and stuff. But they grow everything there and they grow all the produce their part of it but not by the creature. No no it’s not like that she ready to be made the morning made in the best the best cappuccino and learn how to do this I was working there and doing like different jobs. OK some way I think that’s all I can. Yeah I think that yeah that’s so that that’s kind of like the beginning of that kind of you know being there. OK So then let me start. And then it has to do. So I missed on seventeen Ashbury
I think for a while and then I moved out to live with a friend of mine who became like my best friend the same name but she’s from Jamaica and then we both together and then I think then kind of like I also then became a volunteer at the San Francisco Asian women shelters at the beginning of the shelter. They started a shelter in eighty something so I was one of the volunteers and thirty nine eighty nine ninety. So then I was I was just trying to find some and then also. But I wanted to be part of my company and so I’m in this organization that started in the Philippines like to work against the dictatorship. So this is the time that the dictatorship. It’s kind of like being pushed out. So Gabriele is one of the organization that’s starting so they started a Bay Area chapter and I remember trying to connect with them but they’re not together yet so I ended up with services the Asian women shelter one of the volunteers so I was working there as a volunteer I think I had met like wonderful women of color in a lot of weight and I think that was the time that a lot of my friends are becoming more women of color. Sure compared to that when I was the most is like white folks right because that’s all I can have. But then when there is a huge Filipino community I felt like I belonged with all that. In the Philippines and there more than I you know like until today the majority of the women and men I know from eighty nine ninety eighty nine eight are still my friends book until today you know. So we’ve known each other and they’re like most of you know women who are like Filipino American born and raised some of them are born and raised in the U.S. and some of them came like me so certain age. So then I became part of the services Asian Women’s Shelter became involved and through that I have met like are women of color like Asian women who might be like doing other stuff and then I could see it’s a different kind of sisterhood and I said I wasn’t. So then I became friends with South Asian women because of a lot of partying I think I was trying to get back to school. I couldn’t because I was making good money and not just partying and other times but I have like four jobs because I didn’t want to work in the one eight to five. Sure I end up like working like I end up working in a bar in a club in a bar at a reggae club. When I was a cool chick or when I was a younger Meister girl you know that that kind of like you know working in the evening to have extra money or so and then I was into music and it’s like it’s more like the scene the music scene. Right but nothing on drugs nothing that I was never into that. So if it then so I kind of combine that with activism and with some stations I became an intern at a WS what the Asian women shut up and so I became an intern work there for the whole summer but then after that I didn’t continue because the funding had got cut and then so I just became a volunteer again but there have opportunities to work there but never apply because I don’t think I was ready. OK I just felt like I don’t know about that and then also that was a time when I moved to Oakland because I started seeing someone you know and we moved both of us moved with us from Oakland. So from Oakland it’s still different from San Francisco where you know so Oakland then it’s kind of like. Maybe that choice not as bad as Detroit but it’s just that it’s like the hood you know and then every vote was a straight upward. So I was seeing someone who’s from Pokemon and then basically moved to Oakland instead of like staying in San Francisco and that’s when I also started working for a civil rights law firm and then going to my school I was in community college and I was it you know taking a few classes at San Francisco City College and then Laney College in Oakland but I don’t really want to like being in school because part of me as well I think when I say it’s almost like what for her and I was making good money when I started working at the civil rights law firm I started like just doing clerk stop and then I became a paralegal or whatever so it’s kind of like that you know I think that for a while. Until two thousand and two to one thousand nineteen ninety eight state of mind for that law firm I see you didn’t want to but I don’t know what kind of you know let’s find is what time is it. Nine forty eight exactly easily Absolutely. Yourself.

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Migrant Oral Histories

Oral Histories Project

Interviewee: Mira Yusef

Interviewer: Thaddeus Logan

April 17th, 2015

 

Click HERE to hear Mira’s Interview 2

Mira #2

OK if I record again. That’s good that’s good practice. All right so when we finished up last time it was nineteen ninety. Oh hey you have my guy like OK I don’t mind if you have just moved to Oakland. OK with someone you are seeing and you started volunteering at a legal firm that was my work while I was working for a civil rights law firm in Oakland while going to school at the same time so I think my so cold when I think my move to him was really. For me it was like I started basically like I can name my experiences from my childhood about you know the objectification of women the issue of how important being active in the community. Right. So for me I think that was the space that was that provided me the so-called Just you know knowledge about like different social activism or even movement and I think through that and then the majority of my friends are you know are always active within the you know within just the political social activist in the Bay Area so I think that is also a plus because you have that connection you have like really you know you have those relationships with individuals and I think when you’re when you’re in those kind of spaces you know you you can basically learned not just in the school but also with the people that you’re around. So then also I and then Majority of my friends are from the cleaners of color. There’s a majority of African-Americans are black you know a lot of Asians. So that is also like a time of like really me aligning myself or really it’s almost like alliances with other people of color and then through that to know like when I was there is like in the Bay Area that was also the time where I learned more about the civil rights movement and and the importance of giving props to the African black American community of of their struggle against racism in the U.S. because that benefited the Asian Americans that benefited women benefited they all should be D.Q.. So in a lot of ways that was the that was the movement that we should always like. Respect and remember great where our civil rights came from right. So for me as I like have that major alliance with the black community. So for me it’s like so important that even like my relationship my personal relationships are based on like just men of color. Right because for me it’s like personal is political. So whoever I’m with also should reflect my Sokol politics. My own point of view so it’s so it’s like so I think the bay area has really given me that space to really look at that and then to that space as well so it’s not just me who thinks that way. Right there are other Asians there are other Filipinos that think that way. So therefore there’s like this almost like Oh I’m not just like a French like in comparison to maybe here but it’s more like the norm right. It was like nothing that I’m saying right now will be something that is like wisdom when in reality a lot of people think that way. Like the people that I hang around with. Right so we kind of think that same way so I think that’s kind of crucial and there’s a lot of Filipinos who I know. No it’s kind of like I also feel the same way about colonization western colonization in the Philippines and part of that also like why I converted to Islam in ninety four. It’s because of my anti-colonial spans here in the U.S. What’s the good. Yes I was like twenty something like twenty yet so I was a feminist. But then I converted to Islam in ninety four and people are always wondering like well you know there’s almost this contradiction you know that. No because if you really look at the core if you really look at it look at it historically and where it came from it’s really a feminist back for the right to die with my point of view of why I converted to Islam from ninety four and also and there’s feminism and there’s also this cycling of that and I have. So then I converted in ninety four. So basically but it wasn’t just me the lone Filipino who could write it right but there are other ones too I know like what it became really good friends with all still today that we’re connected. You know we basically had kids you know who are like we’re born at the same time I mean so they were like my big like I feel like elder sisters and I have really connected with. She’s also physically and she also converted to Islam. So so for us it’s also the same ways like this and like that. And then in ninety five I got married and my my husband my ex-husband is basically. I only met him for three days. Like I’ve only known him for three days and then we got married so it was really weird because in Hello Farai it’s really interesting the story about him is like I think the first time I saw him was the mosque as a Muslim woman but it’s not the typical like mosque usually mosque if depending on the whole I know where they are originally from. And who’s writing it for example if it’s an arab right and the women will be told he kept separate spaces right. Told me you will not even see the men for they must like the Pakistani or South Asian It will be the same but this 1 Mira #2 is the most that I went over was run like African Americans that are black was great so it was like we’re just right behind them and it was an eighty second Avenue East Oakland like the so-called you know right in the hood so I saw these men come in I’m not supposed to be looking at them but he came in though the only guy he’s hell of so that he was was really like I thought he was like have to be you know it like he’s basically happen to be black not an elephant. So that was it right I just saw him as like a fight in this prison I know that. Did you meet such and such and like no how would I meet you know because it’s not you know I mean I’m friends with men and they’re like good friends prior to me becoming Muslim or some of them I’ve known through I converted the same time as I have. So we got together but there was no like you know not you know they’re not strict with him or whatever. So then that’s how and then friends of mine from Thailand who are also very Muslim type from from the south in Thailand call that basically the province go back Fanny so they are from them so they know my ex-husband so that’s how I met him but he annoys the hell out of me really annoyed me because he was like Are you building with another Muslim brothers from Gambia. I think it’s going to be about how loud she can you know this is like arguing about how to meet so that we’re going to attain this guy is really annoying like but he’s really hot. So then I’m just being honest and then we just talk talk and talk and I just really like like him you know and then basically we went to Jumaa prayers which is a Friday prayers and then we can hang out and then that evening we were just talking and we just like decided to get married the next day. And that’s how you know so then I was married from ninety five dollars ninety five until like two thousand when I moved back here but we’re still married then and then just divorce because the whole thing is like for me when I had a child in two thousand and two thousand and two. Yeah I basically decided to go back to school because a part of me is like I was working for attorney attorneys then right I was like you know working in law firms but I just feel like I can do what they can do. This happened I didn’t finish college because I had other priorities in some way. So then I’m like looking at him like you know I can do the same things today. That’s when I decided to go back to school. Part of me as well is is. I just wanted someone to like to basically take care of my child as well who I trust and that’s why the reason why I came back my husband my ex-husband then just decided like why did you go back to school and I wanted to finish it there and come back right after it so that was the that was our agreement to just really finish might be a year and then go back to them being what I want to Dray to drive my mom to figure out was like for me it’s important to have this you know if you have a child you always think about who’s going to take care of your child right. And then also you know my exhusband and I were also working in a way where he works in the day I work in the evening so the law firm that I worked was working for there is a corporate law firm it is Palo Alto who does a lot of like you know and basically he’s part of those that means like it’s close to the Silicon Valley is because Silicon Valley is the majority of them are venture capitalists. So it’s a really good law firm really good money so for me yes to reason like I’m not going to you know but the partners that I need to finish this because now I have a child and it’s so good that I left because the next year they went bankrupt. And given the first law firm it was a law firm that was basically it. About the same time as Wells Fargo in California and then they went back because something had happened with the economy around that time right. So it’s good thing that I decided to leave because they went they just you know so so there and that’s why I decided to come back to Des Moines is because of my child and I just want to finish school and I went to Drake and then I basically mange you know like history. I finished it within three years but I’m somewhere and then part of me just got bored. Well in Des Moines basically right and then I kind of looked at you know this information about Fulbright so I applied for a Fulbright and I got the full bright. So it’s like from someone who’s like I’m like a turtle in a lot of ways that are very slow in doing things but I think that slowness in some way I became more intentional in what I want to do and also like I think on my twenty’s it was like for me was like oh my God you know why this is like a waste of time but for me I think that was just the path I have to go through in order to be better in my thirties. So then I finish like you know Drake and then while I was trying to finish a track I also like started. So having this internship but I will cross the aisle a coalition for sexual assault and part of me to knowing about certain Asian women 2 Mira #2 shelter or knowing and of a company or a network that I was working with in the bay for a month then where are the Asian advocates right how are the Asian women who are coming to this organization being served and none of them said well we don’t know you know maybe they will you know they will figure it out with a different organization that is part of the coalition. So basically then that’s when monsoon kind of like was birth in a lot of way when I asked the director of Iraq I want to organize the Asian community. Eight an organization serving Asian victims and survivors of gender based violence soon that’s how it began but I was straight trying to finish one more semester and then I started months so that is like kind of in a lot of ways like look at this. Feminism is the theory that’s recalled that something that I have learned that I value my values my core value. Same A lot of my core value right. But then out for me is like doing starting monsoon was a way of like acting upon those acting upon those so called My value system so for me it was such a privilege to be given the space to create it and I really did not know what I was doing when I when I started and I don’t know how to write grants except maybe the fellowship Grant Fulbright that I did but I was helped by professors from Drake who really like Denk is really bad you know you should do it this way so for me I think Drake was excellent and for making my writing better I started with no writing skill in my opinion you know even one professor from tree it was like you know both of my writing was because I was never really a writer you know. But then I was forced to write. So then I just have to do it so that I think it just got better and better and then and then you know having like just one or two professors who are so supportive and not judgmental it’s also crucial in my opinion right in that path of light. So for me if you have someone that will just guide you along eventually it will get better like writing or whatever. So so from there and so forth. When I was doing organizing here I ate OK so I did not know what to do I don’t know how to create an organization. So basically what I did I just like contacted individuals from the community who are doing the work already or are interested in doing this kind of work. So easy. OF THE NATION aligned then spoke out about it but she was I contacted her and she gave me another person’s name and so she connected with the other founder of monsoon base being in her mess and I can tell I don’t know what to do so she basically just grabbed the paper and gives what we’re going to do right. So I don’t let her be right because it seems like she knows what it was like OK so we did a community presentation and I was like I don’t even know if this is working because it was really like but but we did it. OK So so then I hired me as an American remember with years of so that was two thousand and three fall of two thousand that started months and started in two thousand feet kind of got the idea and then organizing it putting those together so I will Casa then basically hired me as America or so then how my position got funded to start once. So basically I was making no money because it was like no money right but if you have health insurance so that is basically what happened did not know what to do but I thought like OK I’m going to create invest because I’ve done that in the Bay Area where I’m going to just do an event so every month I did like an educational forum where it’s about maybe one month is all about like how to raise children in the United States because those are always the struggle parents and so I did all of this right. And that’s how then you know people like oh I was a volunteer student we started having volunteers they became bored or they kind of started doing the volunteer work but I had to be even in the summer of two thousand and four because I had the Fulbright fellowship so I have to go to the Philippines to do research so I left basically one source so it was still a program under I will cost I will cost basically. While I was gone. They just continued it right and then not the demand though was also like one of the volunteers who continued it and then maybe they only have one or two so-called survivors that they are assisting but me I was doing research in in the Philippines where I where I am. I basically did research or did the oral history project in some way with Muslim Muslim women from Mindanao who are who used to work in the Middle East as domestic workers or about to leave to be domestic workers in the Middle East because again my core values Islam and I want to find a solution in providing in providing so-called safe work environment for Muslims working in eight working a servants basically working as domestic workers in Muslim households because it’s because they are in the Middle East that means that they are their so-called bosses are wasn’t right. So they’re hiring other Muslims to work for that 3 Mira #2 church. So then how do you use Islam as a way to say you have to have a humane environment for these workers. Right so that was basically my whole thing but you have to get the you know you have to get the stories from them. From the women who had those experiences so I was interested in this in this topic. This issue it’s because in one nine hundred ninety S. I got married in ninety five ninety six we went to the Philippines I think seven yeah me and my ex-husband went back to the Philippines and I was my first time of going back since I left when I was thirteen or twelve writer so I was like twenty four twenty five twenty four years old I was about twenty four twenty five B. from the Now I’m not from Mindanao I’m from who’s gone to Mindanao out of this out in front so me and my ex went and so here I am like with a job so I used to wear the scarf so I basically word the scarf after I got married as a respect for him. Right so. We went back to the Philippines. So then I still had like a Filipino passport with us and it was just like wow it was like eye opening because I am coming. I left so called non Muslim I was that Christian majority right when I came back as a Muslim I’m one of the minority basically and there’s like this stereotype about Muslims and then my ex also looks really be you know he looks like one of the people from bank whole or thought that I was two people two people always think that he’s from there. So I mean he really had such like bad experience but bad in a way where it’s like an eye opening for both of us so we went to like we stayed with my family in the north and then we went down south and instead of flying we decided to take the boat so we had to let you know into the slow moving like a cruise ship that was going to the island. So that was a cheaper way to travel. So we went to Mindanao got off the boat from someone graffiti so we went to the last meeting before like Saba before the other islands right. We went to some Blanca. We try to let go of this photo. OK just got out of the boat of course and you know it’s like you know like we’re traveling like roughly that looked like it looks so good when you’re when you don’t have kids. Truth to the fact that you’re really backpacking it right from your comfy job because of this and then we got darker too so when I was like I was kind of like a writer when I came back to people I commented so because I’m like because I meant killing him isn’t the only value someone who’s socalled lighter skinned or that you are going to win right. Yeah but being in the ship being outside this I got so far right I got a little darker so because it is a hotel that they should stay there the whole thought of that there’s no rooms but there were a lot of teeth. So we were like dang you know it’s like straight up like Ray’s natural prejudice it’s basically racism because it’s coming from the top. So then when I grew so frustrated and so we’re like just go to Malaysia because I have a passport. So we just try to see if there’s a goat going from some one and back again and there were the boat already left so we were like OK I guess we’re going to stay here were so frustrated so we decided to go to the mosque. So when we went to the walk I went up stairs because that’s where the women basically will pray in and downstairs is that where the men are so From there I just saw like young Muslim men sleeping but it’s also because it’s a matter of rights it’s all alike but there is a school it’s an Islamic school. So basically what I thought they had some of the data behind the mosque and then upstairs there’s like some young you know young men boys who are sleeping they are making that so I did my prayer but I was so frustrated. So there was this kid that was there who who said all work and I pray you said or display right there so that that’s how I met this guy who we became like a friend of ours so I started talking to him and until I share it was in my frustration because prior to us going to the mosque so we went to the bank to get some soma you know American Express things to get to get to be cash as if you’d like to convert them to defeat to be no money vessels. But the way I was treated it was like terrible you know and then even a even like I even complained to the manager. Nothing nothing they don’t give a shit basically because I’m wearing that each of them. So then looking at it in a perspective of a Muslim person living in that situation. So then I started talking to the young men that I met because he was studying right for me to start talking and I just a lot of my friends I was like dang it is really hard and I was speaking to him in my language. Just because the guy that I started crying and he started crying he’s like Chantix I life here that’s all it is our life that it’s like non Muslims basically who got all the world basically like privilege were treated this way will treat you like shit basically and I was like no it’s clicking on me like oh my God That’s why you know a lot of these young men would you want night you know like groups because they’re 4 Mira #2 impoverished and how you can get like you don’t they will treat you like you’re a human being you know they treat you like you are less so of course if you want if you’re one of those people who have been fighting for your rights for your stuff or we’ve been struggling what you’re going to want to like joined right so if in in a lot of ways. When I look at it like oh my God Now I understand I told you that even when we go to like. Tonight authorities were treated the same because I’m wearing the hijab because I may be with other Muslims in the way that they are the way that they will give your money to. It’s almost the experiences of black people back in L.A. by Korean store owners right. That’s why I went L.A. riot in nineteen ninety whatever like the Rodney King thing. That’s why the Korean store owners were like targeted because of the way there was a cultural misunderstanding or maybe Koreans will see black people. That’s right. It’s same as like being in some longer being in a store where you treat the less they will not just give you they won’t even touch right so I don’t feel like you can really see it. So I think from Barrow I kind of just have this like crucial for Libyans are really just for and they’re not only that it’s like you walk in Muslim areas. Majority neighborhood there were like ten tanks rolling down the street and you were like OK is this a war zone it is basically a war zone. It’s a very highly militarized city. It’s like checkpoint after checkpoint. If it’s a Muslim area there’s tanks so you don’t like. Now you understand like the struggle of the people living in that community they’re not under constant surveillance. I mean we’re just like this is like one hundred ninety five this is before nine eleven. Great and this is like it was just like for me it wasn’t wow this is it really too much and I think that also kind of inform my work. That’s so that they hope that that the gentian we went back the same way we took the boat again back up from some work we need to go back to the U.S. So we built friendships in supplying them were either just like a week or week and a half and then from there to we went to different islands so we went for a blogger that we went to see him and there were just some stuff that was going on you’re not allowed to go there so we took like smaller boats going to like but bigger but not those smaller you know the next level you know like. A medium size or you know medium sized boat going to like there’s a boat that’s goes to the island to island for Malaysia next gassy. There’s like different island until we got to the last island will sit back down. Guys like oh my God it’s just the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to I think some one go I mean Mindanao in general is just beautiful the ocean is just like you can see at the bottom I mean this island guys basically on top of a Coral Sea It’s like almost like Venice. It’s like and you go from one neighborhood to another by boat by smaller like paddle boats right so you don’t basically like that was the that was the that we went out there. OH MY GOD IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL which is beautiful. So in a lot of ways you see the contradictions that the beauty of nature but at the same time you know that it’s highly military troops right. There’s like soldiers. There’s just you just like it’s almost this contradiction in the whole space. So then B. After that we went back to some blog and we’ve been back to many of us and again we did the bolt on the way back to Manila. You can see that there’s a big difference between going to money versus going back to going to someone that you will see like women who are coming back with big boxes but it by and by I mean going back to the homeland This means that they went they were like maybe workers from you know from somewhere else and the Middle East and going back home so you will see women like make up everything. Right but now they’re like got money right. So they’re going back to them going back to the island of Mindanao some blogger specifically and also military. So you have military personnel and then these women who are coming back and then military personnel maybe our goals are going back because they were deployed in Mindanao and then going back to Manila. You will see younger women are now about to leave the Philippines to work as domestic workers. So I started talking to them some of them are like. During this during that time in ninety six there was a case in the U.A.E. I think the thought of alibi cerebellar valent case where a sixteen year old was basically sexually assaulted by by her boss by her so-called personal her employer and she stabbed him and then basically she was in court for that and they were going to give her like also a death sentence and blood for blood right because they but she basically lied that she sticks these are she was like fifteen when she got to work there. But then because of human rights you know you human rights organizations like no you can’t because she was sexually assaulted. So therefore she has a right to protect herself. Right and 5 Mira #2 that was self-defense. So big. That that pressure she was basically that goes she goes. So this is a big story in ninety four ninety five. Well the sort of Sarah F A R A N B A L A B H E M. OK OK So going back from someone to someone someone not just seeing the same trend. Young women they’re like fifteen sixteen seventeen it’s going to money now to leave for OK The storage is there so I acted like she was here to serve out there and you don’t care you know what that’s her fate. That’s what they tell me I’m like OK And how old are you like sixteen. But and then they tell me why I thought you know what are our we know where we are from we are in constant war it’s like basically we have to be like this place all the time. We never we cannot go to school because there’s always like bombings. They’re always like you so it’s like what can we do to help our parents. What we can do is basically work as a servant in the Middle East because that’s how other women have done it and Sara’s fate that serves me right. My state my you know my my cat might be different from her and might not be great but I might do better to print to basically to provide for my parents. So you feel like shit you know I was like well then you cannot really judge them because they need to do what they need to do. It’s almost like we do we have a choice. No you don’t write was sixteen like your you know you love your family you want your family to do better and also part of that too is they don’t see this bigger picture as well like the wire needs to stop that military conflict between the Muslim rebels or groups should stop between you know like from the fee would be gone. There should be a peace in some way but the peace is always like crunk it’s like it’s not. Enough basically civilians are the ones of the casualties. It’s like you know like girls are not cannot go to school they’re just so much stuff. So for me I think that kind of led me when I had the chance to do all right. I could apply for it if that’s what I did because I want to hear their voices. I want to find solution for that. Right. But in Islamic way because I think since they are in a Muslim country then you have to find ways Islamic leaders how to provide like a work. It’s almost like concrete combining Islamic law and workers’ rights movement you have to combine both because can you find texts in the core or or in the practices of the profit that are like things you have to like protect workers’ rights right. So you have to find that Islam if that’s how they kind of like oh yeah you’re right. I cannot. They need to have. They need to have like days off they can you know I cannot just like treat them like slaves because that’s how they were treated they were treated like slaves. So that’s how I was I decided to do the Fulbright because of that issue because that making sense yet. So that is like connecting to that against what I have learnt is that you know what I have to do I think that is what was important. When an immigrant you know it’s like we always have a connection with our motherland and I think the privilege that we have here in the United States or it is or if that immigrant is living in other Western countries the privilege is like what can I do in this country to make my homeland safe. Or you know to improve or to do whatever you know because here I think United States like we have foreign policies you know we have politicians who basically create the foreign policies that totally supports that kind of militarization in the Philippines and that creates poverty for certain individuals. That perpetuate that that discrimination that you know the displacement of certain communities and then because of that they will basically dead rebel or they will create their own movement because they want to fight. Right because I want my kids I want my committee to be in a better space. So us need to fight for means like my role there is to like how than I can help from this site which I’m still trying to find out right because I don’t know because for me it’s like I really can’t. Foreign policy is something that I’m not really like that’s what I feel like sometimes when you use that apology because we have to like going to communities study them to study them right there and we just take knowledge and what stories or narratives we bring them to hear. But then what are we going to do with that and I think that was my struggle with I got all this information so what I’ve done then is like after that after the Fulbright I got into university of Michigan and Burton to do my my master’s in Southeast Asian Studies and then also like I decided to also apply to social work programs to go to N.S.W. took I don’t know how I don’t do without these agents studies so they have basically the practical part of me was like OK let me just do social work as well because you know maybe that will help me in some way. So when I went came back after the Fulbrights I got all the stories right. I put it all in one in one you know like Powerpoint whatever so then Michigan like the Muslim Students 6 Mira #2 Association basically asked me like can you do a presentation on the work that you’ve done and so I did that right and I did a website whatever that I could do but it was still like not enough because I have to like and also like you know being in school and doing that was kind of like hard and I really did not know how to do it in a way where I don’t know there was like I need to do something but I’m still in grad school but how do I do this properly. So in grad school I did that then I apply. So I kind of was just like talking about it with other Muslims in Michigan and other you know like just talking about it and in some way I I was still connected with some of the organizations that I was so I’m just supporting them that may be sending them money in the station that that help me like you know like me can help me to like find individuals who will be able to share their stories. There are lots of Muslim groups that I just like send money whenever it’s like maybe one person need money to come back to the Philippines so that if I have extra money then I will send us what i did right. So then I had I had a chance again to apply for that or fellowship so it’s the Boran fellowship where you basically apply do more research but learn the language so in Michigan I was learning in the nation that I was that I could then go back to Southeast Asia and they maybe continued the work that I’ve done in the Philippines right. So I applied to learn my leg which is connected to Indonesian and then and also then to go to Sabah Malaysia to kind of like connect what I was doing with the Fulbright. But this time is basically the trafficking victims from Mindanao to Malaysia because that’s also a story that I’ve heard while I was in so long ago that when I was doing the Fulbright if stories are of like Filipinos going to Malaysia. The connection between that and some women are trafficked Well not for sex or for domestic work and then also that that whole area is like for me it is like this connection. It’s almost like a parallel to us. U.S. and Mexico border where historically Mexico owned parts of the United States right grades. It’s like used to be part of Mexico so both Rio Grande River is the border. Basically we create that. But historically people just cross the border. They have to find ways right. Saved like Malaysia in the Philippines connection where the earth to do think it was like one of the Rio Grande to criticize me just like the connection between the Seuss alternate etc Matter of fact the filth to Fulton that used to own saga but because of the British it was rented to the British the British never gave it back instead they gave it to Malaysia. So there’s all of that connection because historically it’s kind of like the same in some way. People cross the border but since Malaysia has more economically more developed a lot more of the Libyans want to go to Malaysia because of you know they have jobs because they you know they have the P. land which is the factory that palm oil they have rubber you know it’s more economically developed and more jobs and then saw what had happened and I decided to apply for the Boran fellowship and I got it right this time in two thousand and seven get one so if they like. Still around and bite our target. I will cost them. Yeah I look awful. So basically then I think during that time when I was about to leave so I got the Boran. When I was about to leave to go to Malaysia they asked me to meet with all of them because they have a chance to apply for funding state funding and you know so then I came you know and kind of just help out they wrote the grant to get funded and they were also in the process of becoming five I wanted to be the land of the all of that stuff right. They got funding. They became a five or one thousand nine hundred other looking for an E.P. I was in in which the Active Directory run is now becoming like a non-profit church. So me I was in Malaysia I was based in Kuala Lumpur where I was doing the work but I was based in the city not because some of it was just boring to me and also I was going to the university universe of concern on Monday to learn ballet shoes. So I was there and then. Every weekend I will basically fly to Sabah to do the research right. What’s so good about Southeast Asia in general I think you should do it is someday if you can travel from different countries with all the low costs on these clean air rights so maybe I can go to Sabah. It’s almost like twenty dollars to get you know four flights of stairs. Well yes I can get a good deal like a flight from K.L. Kuala Lumpur the sun back in Malaysia and happen is basically where the ship from someone would land in Malaysia right. So I need to be sent back on track. So so back when I was a stay in a hotel or hole in the law whatever the you know I’m travelling on my own and that’s not supposed to be a no is doing I don’t care. So then basically the. It’s what I think is like I you know whenever I have to go to and then I’ve also got connected with the Philippine Embassy because I need to know 7 Mira #2 what’s going on with the Filipino intellect so I really like sex trafficking it’s not just Muslims but also non Muslims coming from Besides being trafficked for sex in the island called Love one can write so we’ve you know women are being trafficked and also one of the poor a lot of the so-called prostituted women are coming from the Philippines. Again it’s like trafficking right. So then so then that’s what I did in Kuala Lumpur. So this is also the time that I was just finishing my M.S.W. monsoon is just coming around in February and it like you know I e-mailed back off because of the baseline and yet not now that you know that they were like telling that one just come back in a cycle and think about it. So then when I after I finished work in Malaysia I went back to Ann Arbor because I have one more semester shirts so I went back to an arbor to finish that one semester and then they still did not have a GED so I became the first contracted to do the director work system. The board membership together so that’s what I did then I graduated got my M.S.W. and I think this time I don’t have to do community assessment. I’ve done like a lot of oral history project I’ve done grant writing I’ve done evaluation. So now I feel like I have more tools. I have more resources to run an organization first because my M.S.W. is not a one time thing I hated counselling it’s not because for me it’s a systemic change. It was not like an individual. For me it’s more like the systemic. So for me that was so important for me then to do community organizing and system change so my my focus was on that and not on counseling. So from there I then you know came back and then I basically opened monsoons office on December fifteenth two thousand and seven here. Yeah. OK but we’re not in this office it started in a small town like smoke became a small space. I will cost. So what I’ve done I just I have a desk a chair and then I put like you know like so-called of I just put like wall dividers because if I saw from whence all it was me with the finale so I did a committee assessment so then I use all what I have learned from grad school to apply it to run an organization. So I started from one small space in the just group rights and I kind of have a scale in grant writing I have a skill in doing this I could do a little bit of community organizing outreach so that kind of that for me being in grad school kind of helped me. So coming from someone sometimes I see individuals like who I have a kind of the very first meeting of four months when you know what I want to apologise the capsule story that that first meeting sucks you know. OK. OK so I’m just kind of like there forgive me for but then from that odds like between now you know we’re still around and will still growing because I think it’s all like you know like our personal narrative. And stories are all connected and how before integration came about. So you cannot separate that right even the stories of the fact you know how they are connected to this organization it’s the same. So sometimes it’s so hard to like say to tell the story of monsoon progress the organizational story when in reality there are narrow personal narratives that are connected to that so I think that So for me it’s so important to also bring that up. So basically when you say or is it about you but it’s also not about me but the work that I do. So basically yesterday. Yeah so that repeated any question from you said Write a feeling that the personal is political. Yes What what is that to you I mean I’ve heard that before. What what is that. OK when I earlier when I was in the bay or even today like how who I choose to be partner waitress who I choose to be married to. Why choose to sleep with the last let’s look that’s for me that’s personal. So therefore for me I cannot if I would I mean for me politically it’s going to be men of color from the commanders of color because that’s just the politics but my politics of valuing communities of color first before the nine committees of color shirt. So that’s how when I think the personal is political it’s also the path that you know like the work that I do. Right. It’s informed by my own so-called values for my feminism leagues and you know social justice that Inform of what I do so for me it’s like even when I work with the youth and I careful because I know how it was you know because we’re in my in my teens in my twenty’s I wasn’t together right so I see that I see myself in them in a lot of which I can’t really write properly so then but then you have to have just one person that would just like believe that you can do it so that is for me when I say I think each one of us the narrative that we create our own. Active based on the action experience that we have. It’s basically informed by a court by a value that you are sure that the partner that you that you choose right how do you raise your child even releasing my child. It’s very much like it’s informed by my own core values which is like feminism. That’s why you cannot really separate personal and 8 Mira #2 political when in reality they’re so intertwined even thing like Oh I do not want to deal with that or I do know one thing I don’t have any I don’t have any any opinion about that. That is also like your then your stance is that having no stance you’re ready choosing a fighter right means that you you know because of the silence right but still saying that something’s wrong. Only because you like me really is that true that means that you’re not going to be against that. But you’re just really being that way. Satan so I think that’s what I meant was personal is political because for me it’s all intertwined. So but then when you say personal it’s also about like you know I do not want to judge individuals who might be choosing you know like for example a lot of you know here are married to like white men that they meet through online but what is the reason for I’m not going to judge them right because I know in the Philippines that anything American is better right. They see that the life in this country will improve their lives when you’re improving their lives are also improving the lives of their families and the communities and things but they are basically sacrificing themselves in order to do this right. But when they come here the story is not like that. They are these are the women that basically we sometimes have helped the majority of them we have help because they come here and they’re like that’s not what I wanted and at the same time while they’re choosing those kind of choices like they also wanted to be loved running to have that relationship with family they want to create a family. So therefore like this person is economically I think. Economically better than I am. Therefore I can you know better myself better my family better my community and I could raise children with him and I could just learn how to love him right. So for me that’s also a political stance now and then they don’t really know that. But when they come here this will be different because the person that they met online who basically act differently but then the person that they have met online also have expectations of like what Asian women will be like to be submissive they are accelerating their sexual you know anything that you I mean I mean things that we’ve heard it’s been like the men they have this thing of like oh Asian women are supposed to be this way that they are good bad and good in the kitchen. So therefore that’s your role. But her or she does not know that. I mean sure she doesn’t really understand that this is the perspective of her being that maybe globalize world that they’re you know they have internet this women I look at some of them are really metropolitan so they don’t think that way that Filipino women are usually independent right. Right so whatever that this concept that these men have is basically oh my God is not what I expect to be and that’s where the clash come right and then some of them I can’t. So therefore they’re like sexually like not adventurous. They’ve got you know what the hell is that. So if I get it shattering that concept of like white male fantasy of like what the Asian women is supposed to be sure. So for us that’s when we say so then it’s becoming part that’s personal but it’s basically influencing night. What’s going to happen politically. Because our organization is very political as you can see who the poster is what we do what kind of programming that we do right. So for us you cannot separate that. So that’s what I meant when it’s like personals political because everything that you do is based on the value bet. All right. Or yet you have chosen for yourself right. So that’s what I’m going to give time to continue or what I missed it because you have I mean I just felt that you want to ask not totally up to I mean I don’t know enough but I mean I don’t want you to like over I think you have so much already you know I have to keep talking but if you if you have some fun to be OK That’s perfectly OK I think I wanted to transcribe all of this like what the hell is so much I don’t know what I like to try but I think Jessica is really becoming like intentional and also critical of your own privilege. Sure as a white male should someone from the west right. Because for me but don’t be afraid of that privilege. I don’t like just you know just how can you do what can I do that I like being races around like using my own privilege you know that way because historically and apology I got enough of that my whole thing is equal to the community. Like what. Then I’ll buy time with what I got from there. Sure I don’t know. So no I’m not trying to figure out now I’ve got this organization how can this organization didn’t help what I’ve started so maybe someday but again I’m a fertile in some way. Right I kind of take my time but I also want to make an intentional trip so I think like when we’re doing that anthropology or even sociology thing that’s what I think a lot of comedians do not like is when we go there and take something from them and then we never get 9 Mira #2 they never get anything. Bashford and as this went so the next one who has the good intention to give something back. They’re like oh hello you’re coming in here because someone else have done that and what did we get nothing but the herb for. Yeah so I think a lot of the experiences are like I mean it’s a color you know some third world country. You know my work. Communities that are next seen as exotic are something that we should study is that it’s been their experience. Sure writes I think just being just being that’s what I think it becomes personal to you because your core values how is that influence in your part of the future. Sure so I think you speak self-aware. Yeah it was really like everything that you do isn’t what you know how is this community going to that what am I really going to do with this information and then now to it’s like this whole thing about intelligence and anthropology and I mean just like so sometimes I feel like anthropologists or even bank so I shoulda just anything that’s even Southeast Asian like what we do is basically we’re giving we’re giving intelligence you know information to like to to you know the Intel military intelligence you know. But they’re not really hoping that it will be used in a better sense not like to oppress and suppress community so that’s why I’ve got a call. I’m just that’s just my take over the years. Yeah I think you have borders you know they’re like excellent it’s interesting and I do not do that because I think it’s good to have that love also like it’s so important for women of color specifically to be convenient because of those experiences that we have but I never liked it but then there’s always a struggle for women of color or even a man of color to be in academia because the fact that they would not be tenured right because they might be too political or there might be to do too much an activist instead of just condemning the For me it should be informed by both you know that so much to bring to the table. Yes both and for me in also liked specially for policies right there and that’s also crucial politician be informed by the ground not the other way around. Because then how can we make sure that communities will be better all about like how can we all be better for better communities you know whatever you know anyway. OK thank you so much. No problem. 10

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