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Sometimes history is just important history to all of us

I’m doing a solo show in New York City where I talk about the American Philippine War. It’s the war no one likes to talk about.

This is because the United States is the aggressor against one sovereign, the Philippines. In other words, the United States has the role of Russia. And the Philippines is in the role of Ukraine. This is your update on geopolitical ironies.

But I want to talk about the war in the context of the final days of Black History Month, and the one historical story that I love because it shows that Black history is American history is the history of Asian America. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When the American is an African American in Asia, it is a wealth worth contemplating. Emil Guillermo

If the name David Fagen doesn’t leave your lips or immediately spring to mind, then remember it now. It is a history lesson and a humanity lesson, one that is always worth repeating. For history buffs, Fagen was an African American born in Florida in 1875. He Was it after slavery, after the Civil War, and yet was there really much of a difference? You still have lynched, burned and murdered black people in the South. This was the reality for Fagen who joined the segregated all-black 24th Infantry and was sent to fight Native Americans as a “Buffalo Soldier”. His unity was so good that the Army sent him first to Cuba for the Spanish-American War. And then they were shipped to the Philippines for what I would prefer to call the US-Philippine War, reserving the leadership position for the aggressor.

The first shots were fired on February 4, 1899. It was around this time that Fagen began hearing the “N” word thrown around. But when he turned his head, the Filipinos also turned their heads. White officers called Filipinos the “N” word. The N-word as an F-word? This is what started Fagen’s soul-searching. How could an African American with integrity or empathy fight a white man’s war and point a gun at another black person fighting for freedom?

I don’t know what Fagen thought of the Native Americans he had met on previous campaigns, but when he was in the jungles of the Philippines, he had changed. Fagen could no longer fight for the Imperial United States Army. He became one of 15-30 deserters among the four all-black “Buffalo Soldiers” units. He was the only one known to have joined the Filipino freedom fighters in the US-Philippine War.

Others felt what Fagen felt. One of my favorite Black History books is the one by William Gatewood, Smoked Yankees and the Struggle for Empire: Letters from Negro Soldiers, 1898-1902. The letters clarify the racist nature of the war and provide insight for Fagen’s defection. Gatewood’s book contains letters written by African American soldiers and published in the United States by the black ethnic press, such as the Boston Post, Cleveland Gazette, and the American citizen iin Kansas City.

“I feel sorry for these people and for everything that has come under US control,” wrote Patrick Mason, a sergeant in Fagen’s 24th Infantry, at the Cleveland GazettaAnd. “The first thing in the morning is the “(N-word)” and the last thing in the evening is the “(N-word).”. . .You are right in your opinions. I don’t have to say as much as I am a soldier.

It took the courage of humanity to act like David Fagen. If you’ve never heard of this story, it’s not surprising. He is one who goes against the American white supremacist narrative. Few teach history with a mention of Fagen. I was surprised that even my father, who was born under the American flag in the Philippines a few weeks after the start of the US-Philippine war, had never heard of Fagen. This was probably not taught in his colonized American school, where he learned English well enough to come to America in the 1920s as a colonized American citizen.

Throughout all the discrimination my father faced in the US (anti-miscegenation, lack of job and housing opportunities), he found himself in the black community. But he was still grappling with the colonial mentality. Generally, this is known as acceptance of the white narrative, as one goes along to get along in society.

Coincidentally, I’m telling my father’s story live on stage during various stints at Frigid.NYC, the New York Fringe Festival, Under St.Marks Theater. You don’t necessarily have to be in New York to experience it. Watch it at home with a live stream ticket, available on Fringe.NYC via this link:

Emil Guillermo is a veteran Northern California journalist, speaker, and commentator. He is on www.amok.com

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