Don't We Look Alike?

by Nina Schidlovsky

“Japanese women are so beautiful,” the Hong Kong taxi driver said. He slowed the cab suddenly to admire two willowy women gliding by. Their stiletto heels pushed them towards heaven. “Not like Filipina women,” the driver continued. “Filipino women are dirty and ugly.”

The hair on the back of my neck bristled. Instantly, Mom’s arms crushed me in a protective embrace. I thought of the wonderful Filipina woman who lived with us as a helper, and the thousands of other Filipinos who worked in Hong Kong, where we’d been living for two years.

“I’m Filipina,” I replied flatly.

I watched the rear view mirror as the taxi driver’s eyes widened. He bumbled and fumbled his apologies but his words fell between the seat cushions—heavy, forced, and laden with deserved embarrassment.

I was nine years old, and that was the first time I’d encountered any form of racism…

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