Emil Guillermo: On indigenous people, vegan justice, DACA, and the NBA's workplace violence problem

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Last week’s column showed how Filipinos in America provided the basis for the racist Dred Scott decision (1857), where a Black slave was prevented from suing for his freedom. Chief Justice Roger Taney based it on an opinion he wrote in 1840 that since only White Christians could participate in society, all non-Whites were seen as inferior, could be enslaved, and were not of the race of the masters. The case involved a Filipino, but was extended to other Asians, Blacks, indigenous people, and anyone else who was non-white.

We were all lumped in and seen as inferior by law.

Given that, is there any reason not to proudly celebrate the Biden Administration’s declaration of Oct. 10 as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”?

I.P. Day? Yes, please. Definitely.

To revere Columbus as an Italian heritage figure is fine, if you wish. It just doesn’t make sense to honor a man who enslaved and brutalized natives in our modern democracy.

No one is canceling Columbus. Just putting him in his place. And remembering those who were here first.

The banks and post offices are closed. But not our hearts or minds.

If one must celebrate an Italian figure today, why not Raffaele Esposito, said to have invented the pizza for Queen Margherita herself in Naples, 1889?

I’d parade all day for the vegan version.

Not that you need an excuse to parade, but you could also parade for the semi-documented recipients with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status.

More than 600,000 people are in a kind of limbo as DACA is kicked around in the courts. The Fifth Circuit is the latest to declare the program illegal last week.

But don’t despair.

If you have DACA status, there are still options. Celebrate October as the month the Hart-Celler Act, a/k/a the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was signed. That was the law that lifted the racist immigration caps on Asian Americans. (For example, Filipinos went from essentially nothing to 20,000 immigrants allowed per year.)

It was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan Congress.

And that’s what’s needed now–a comprehensive overhaul of the entire immigration system so massive that, by comparison, giving DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship would seem like the proverbial low-hanging fruit.

Instead of waiting for the courts to put a bow or noose on DACA, we all should be focused on getting people registered and then voting for a Congress that would take responsible action. Hart-Celler happened in 1965, almost 60 years ago.

It can happen again.

Or you might just want to celebrate Wayne Hsiung, an Asian American activist who fights not for Asian Americans but for those even less fortunate.

The animals.

In 2017, Hsiung, the founder of Direct Action Everywhere, joined with four others to enter a factory farm in Utah owned by Smithfield Food (a major pork producer in the U.S. owned by China).

Hsiung’s purpose was to document on video the horrible conditions for animals at the farm. But then he saw two piglets in distress. Hsiung rescued them, and even gave them names (Lilly and Lizzy).

But then Hsiung was arrested along with his cohorts.

Three reached plea deals since then, but just last week, five years later, Hsiung and co-defendant Paul Picklesimer were in court facing two counts of burglary, a third-degree felony, and one count of theft.

Serious charges.

If you were watching Monday Night Football last week (10-3), ESPN censored an activist running onto the field holding a pink flare and wearing a shirt with the words “right to rescue.”

No one wants you to know about this case. The corporate media. The corporate animal farmers. Even the FBI was called into this case for a time.

Hsiung, representing himself, argued that the piglets were abandoned property, and of no value to Smithfield, worth about $42.50 each.

“We were not there to be burglars, or thieves,“ Hsiung told the jury. “We were there to give aid to dying animals.”

In his closing argument, Hsiung made his best pitch.

“If you defend our right to give aid to dying animals, defend the right of all citizens to aid dying and sick and injured animals, there’s something that will happen in this world,” Hsiung said. “Companies will be a little more compassionate to the creatures under their stewardship. Governments will be a little more open to animal cruelty complaints. And maybe, just maybe, a baby pig like Lilly won’t have to starve to death on the floor of a factory farm.”

One of the felony counts was dismissed by the judge. Last Saturday, a jury found Both Hsiung and Picklesimer not guilty on all the other charges.

You see, there’s hope.

Justice can happen for pigs. And for Asian American activists like Wayne Hsiung.

If you listened to my “Emil Amok’s Takeout” E.406, you know I have a lot to say about Draymond Green and his sucker punch of teammate Jordan Poole at a Golden State Warriors practice last week.

A video of Green punching Poole showed how much everyone is trying to downplay it.

Why downplay workplace violence?

The punch was a clear battery, and chargeable. The Warriors preferred to keep it in house, but that’s a bad look. Keep it in house? That sounds like Jeffrey Dahmer.

The fact is workplace violence between the larger Green, who is 6-ft-6-inches, 230 pounds, and a much smaller Poole, who is two inches shorter and almost 40 pounds lighter at 6-ft-4-inches, 194 lbs., shouldn’t be so casually dismissed.

Not in a workplace of millionaires.

This isn’t a “just between boys situation.” It’s not an ordinary workplace. For many people in society, young people specifically, what happens in an NBA locker room carries role model-type weight. Is this the message the NBA wants to send to the world? Bullying is OK, if kept in house?

Two weeks ago, the NBA fined Phoenix Suns owner $10 million and banned him from the game for one year for “workplace misconduct,” involving anti-Black racist, as well as anti-women misogynistic and sexual comments.

Is beating up another smaller, younger fellow basketball millionaire acceptable?

Green over the weekend apologized again, to everyone, and to Poole especially; then he said he was taking a few days off to “work on himself.”

It’s going to take a lot more than using the meditation app LeBron James pushes.

The NBA needs to weigh in quickly. If it says nothing, then the message is punching a smaller person is ok.

Just keep it in house. A big deal but not a big deal.

Remember that’s what the Catholic Church said about abusive priests. And US Gymnastics about abusive coaches. And the Boy Scouts about abusive troop leaders. And Women’s Soccer about abusive coaches.

And then the abuses were exposed for all to see.

For the NBA and the Golden State Warriors, the action that must be taken is clear. They must condemn workplace violence unequivocally.

Listen to show 407 and I’ll talk about all this and my birthday too.

NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.

The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.

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