Southwestern College

‘I Am More Than My Race. I Am More Than My Ethnicity. I Am a Person'

A Filipino-American college student reacts to recent attacks on the AAPI community

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“This past year, this past week has been incredibly difficult,” said Elayna Bagaporo. “It’s upsetting because what are we supposed to do?”

The second year Southwestern College student sounded helpless.

“Racism. Xenophobia. Homophobia. It’s nothing new to me and that’s the really unfortunate fact,” she said while sitting on the Chula Vista campus.

Bagaporo spoke with NBC 7 in light of the recent attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“This is upsetting. This is something that has brought a new fear for me,” she said.

How to Help

“Are my parents going to be okay going outside? Are my siblings and I going to be okay going outside?” she asked. “Now we have to worry about being looked at weird or even berated with hate walking out of our door just because of how we look.”

“What are we supposed to get people to notice that we are suffering?” Bagaporo asked.

The Filipino-American is the former president of the Bayan Community Organization at Southwestern.

“This is a time of change, whether anyone likes it or not, we are evolving,” Bagaporo said defiantly. “I’m angry about the treatment that AAPIs have faced.”

“I’m motivated,” she continued. “I’m motivated to bring this to light, make this a topic of a conversation.”

Bagaporo said the conversation is one of the first steps towards that evolution.

“I ask that people just be open to having that conversation and open to change,” she said. “I think everyone should be included and hear this conversation, at least hear this message of, ‘Listen to your Asian friends, listen to your Asian counterparts’ because they need your help.'”

The DA's Office has established its own hotline for reporting hate crimes against Asian-Americans.

“We’re not going to leave whether you like that or not,” Bagaporo said while thinking about people who have attacked Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. “I am more than my skin color. I am more than my race. I am more than my ethnicity. I am a person.”

Bagaporo who graduates from Southwestern this Spring said people also need to do research and study on their own.

“My piece of advice is: Acknowledge your privilege, acknowledge where you’re going wrong sometimes, also acknowledge the problems within our communities,” she concluded. “We are all suffering under the hands of white supremacy. If we don’t come together as community and have an open conversation about what can we do to be better allies for each other, ultimately white supremacy will win and that’ show we’ll live our lives.”

Anyone who suspects a hate crime against the Asian-American community, or other frequently targeted communities, can use the San Diego District Attorney's Office online form or hotline to report.

The tool was created, in part, in response to an increase in reports of hate-related incidents directed at Asian-American's DA Summer Stephan said in April 2020. Tips can be made online here or by calling (619) 515-8805.

Hate crimes can also be reported to the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154, or the San Diego County Sheriff's Department at (858) 565-5200

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