Editor's note: Ace is blogging about being a dad trying to rebound from the coronaivrus pandemic at My Rebound by FOX 17. He desired for his son to feel both pride in and connection to his Filipino heritage, so he founded the Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Festival in 2016. Also a banker, he recently resigned from his position – now staying full-time with his 6-year-old son. He and his wife, son and dog live in Plainfield Township.
At bedtime, Redd, as usual, asks questions to avoid sleeping. However, this one was a bit more complex. "Dad, why are people protesting?"
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I pause to think and say, "How do you feel when I don't listen to you?"
In February 1986, the People Power Revolution in the Philippines brought millions of people to gather in Edsa plaza with one mission — to voice their opposition toward the Marcos regime. It was the pursuit of change, and the people overthrew Marcos and changed the leadership from a dictatorship to a democracy.
Over 2 million Filipinos — civilians, military, political and religious groups — surprised the world in a historic act of civil disobedience. Afterward, the country elected its first female president. I was only eight years old then, but it's an experience I cannot forget from living in the Philippines.
As an immigrant, I am no stranger to experiencing blatant racism first-hand. And recently, the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the surface a lot of xenophobia toward the Asian community.
I often find myself too soft in expressing my utmost disgust of racism. I am too careful not to offend and too often hold back.
On the morning of Saturday, May 30, I received a call from my friend Kareem of the NAACP if I would be willing to bring my sound system to Rosa Parks Circle to assist with the African-American Community Task Force rally. As I participated in the peaceful protest, I felt the frustration and the pain of our Black community. Systematic injustice and racism have been a problem in our country for far too long. George Floyd's death was a tipping point for many.
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I was in awe of the number of people who came out in support of this worthy cause. I met incredible people, and I heard powerful voices.
I came home before 8 p.m. to be with Jackie and Redd. Friends started messaging at 10 p.m., asking if I was still at the protest? They were concerned for my safety. By 11 p.m., I was hearing that the city was being demolished, and friends were watching it live.
Around midnight, I was awake chatting with my friend Theresa. We were making plans to meet in the morning to clean up. I urged our Asian-Pacific group to meet early. Many friends came through, and we started cleaning the streets. More groups arrived as we worked. I received kudos for my efforts and felt proud of our friends.
Redd overheard Jackie and I talking and asked if someone destroyed the stage of the Asian Festival? For him, that is what is essential.