The US is in chaos. Australia is too. The Western world is finally coming to terms with the reality of white supremacy it has created.
At first, I thought, I am far removed from that. I have no place in the conversations about racism and discrimination. And yet, there’s this stubborn little thought at the back of my mind.
I do have something to say. And it needs to be said, badly. It took me a while posting this because I was afraid of the consequences. I was afraid yet again of being ignored. I was afraid that I might not say the right thing. And also, I’m afraid of being silenced.
See, several months back, I was banned from a Facebook group owned by white American influencer and business coach James Wedmore. The reason? Because I very politely requested them not to hire virtual assistants from the Philippines and other third-world countries and pay them the measly sum of $3 per hour.
I asked them that, if these aspiring business owners had extremely tight budgets, then they should consider paying AT THE VERY LEAST a minimum of $4 per hour. That is only $1 per hour than James recommended, and it’s only enough to keep one Filipino VA alive and relatively healthy so that they can go back to work for their American employer the next day.
It’s not even above minimum wage and it’s not enough if that VA has a family to feed, and in this country, a family means their parents, grandparents, children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and, in some cases, aunts and uncles.
If they had more, I asked these aspiring business owners to pay the decent rate of $6 to $8 per hour for an entry-level VA. Of course, the expectation is, as the VA gets better at her job, she will be paid more. And if they’re looking for someone topnotch who doesn’t need to be trained and can do more than just routine, mundane tasks, they should expect to pay so much more.
In short, I asked them in the most polite terms I could to not promote the exploitation of cheap third-world labor.
James and his team didn’t warn me I was going to be banned. They simply kicked me out. Concerned members of the group reached out to me to let me know.
After I had moved on from the initial humiliation of being banned from a Facebook group, I began asking myself: Why do I even follow these people? What is it about them that is so appealing to me? What do they mean to me?
It wasn’ t hard to come up with an answer. I was drawn to influencers like James Wedmore because of the promise they offered. That I, too, could make as much money as they’re making. That I, too, could impact the world in a way that is meaningful to me. That, I too, could build a business, a platform and be seen and heard in the way I want to be seen and heard.
When James mentioned his brand of New Age spirituality—Wedmore Woo—I was hooked. A business coach who preaches you can have everything you believe in using the mysterious power of the Law of Attraction? Sign me up for that!
It took me a while to realize it but I did eventually realize it. That people like James weren’t talking to me. In fact, they didn’t even see, hear, or acknowledge me—because, to them, I’m simply someone from a third-world country they think they can pay $3 per hour to do their mundane business tasks for them and be happy about it.
Sure, to their Western audience, they make a promise of financial abundance and the good life that comes with that. They truly and firmly believe that is available for them. And good for them that they believe that because I, too, believe in using the power of the mind to get what you want.
But here’s the thing.
They believe it is available ONLY for them. They believe only they have the right to enjoy financial abundance. The rest of the world can’t complain getting paid only $3 per hour. In fact, they think we’re lucky getting paid $3 per hour. That’s how global capitalism works for you.
And the crazy part of it all?
These white influencers and their followers who think we would beg to be paid $3 per hour tidying up the loose ends of their businesses pay us peanuts not because we produce mediocre work.
I’m not a VA but I, for one, sure as hell know I write amazing content that is way ahead of its time and shakes my readers to their core. And I’ll bet my ass on the fact that I can write so much better than a huge majority of native English speakers.
No, they’re paying us peanuts because they can.
Because we let them.
James Wedmore said on Instagram that his Filipino VAs, who were being paid $6 to $8 per hour, didn’t think there was anything wrong with foreigners paying their Filipino VAs $3 per hour. If that’s you, either you’re so out of touch with Filipino society and you need to get out more or you have extremely low standards.
First of all, $3 per hour is way below the minimum wage, even if you live in the province like I do. Even the Philippine government, which doesn’t exactly have the same high standards that James purports to have, thinks Filipinos deserve better than that. Now that I think back on it, I’m angry at myself for not having demanded more than the bare minimum of $4 per hour.
Second of all, the idea that your life is better now because you’re getting a handful of dollars every month is pure and utter bullshit. I’m #sorrynotsorry to shatter your little brown American dreams, but somebody has to break it to you.
While you’re sitting in your rent-to-own condo thinking about adult stuff like bills and insurance and investments and children’s tuition fees and your monthly car loan payments and you’re thanking the Lord God because you have enough to make it through to the next month with all your little luxuries paid for, your white capitalist employer from thousands of miles away makes millions of dollars every year. And, yeah, even if they’re making “just” hundreds of thousands or thousands of dollars every year, that’s still way more money than most people in the world can ever dream of handling.
Do you get it?
You have just enough.
He has way too much.
And millions, if not billions, of people all around the world have way too little.
That’s where the problem is.
It’s not that you’re hungry. It’s not that you don’t have clothes on your back. It’s not even that you’re overworked, although you most likely are. It’s that this globalist, capitalist system work-from-home Filipinos rely on so much is rotten to the core. It’s built on white supremacist foundations and was designed explicitly to exploit third-world labor.
“Let’s hire some poor brown girl from the Philippines. She’ll accept whatever we pay her, even if it’s 10 times smaller than what we’d pay an American worker. And she’ll work 10 times harder.”
Wake up, people!
People like James Wedmore need some serious owning up to do. But we also need to see that the only way they get to take advantage of us is because we let them.
We’ve been letting them get away with exploiting us not just since we discovered we can work for white employers and clients over the Internet but since the white conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi came to colonize the Philippines.
And since then, we’ve had white people abuse us in our land, call us stupid, take away our culture, rape our great-great-grandmothers, hang our great-great-grandfathers on salaysay trees, torture them until they go crazy, brainwash them into thinking theirs is the inferior race, drive them up the wall until even the good men lose hope, and buy and sell our whole country for $2 million like they think we’re some sort of property that can be bought and sold.
And while nobody’s getting hanged on salaysay trees anymore, we still allow white foreigners to walk all over us.
Filipinos are still getting raped and murdered by American soldiers, and we let them get away with their crimes because they have blond hair and blue eyes.
We swell with false pride when a white person eats our lumpia and says it’s delicious, despite the fact that all they really know about the Philippines is lumpia and nothing more.
We take pride in our English not because we can communicate well with it but because we think our good English makes us more American. And we don’t want to be just any brand of American, we want to look and sound like a white American. Black Americans are for making fun of. White Americans are for worshipping. And Americans of any other color are but walking ATMs.
Worse, we have adopted the white colonizers’ way of thinking. We look at people who belong to ethnic tribes and ridicule their appearance. The words “Ita” and “negra” have become insults for anyone who doesn’t fit our distorted standards of white, straight-haired beauty. And we try so hard to get rid of anything that makes us look and sound like a native Filipino—our dark skin, our flat nose, our harsh accent.
And it goes way beyond appearances. We’ve taken away their ancestral lands—lands that they’ve taken care of for hundreds of years—so we can chop trees and build dams and plant fruits that no Filipino will ever eat. We let our government bomb their schools. We let our government kill them.
And in the digital marketing niche where I’ve been operating for more than a decade, Filipinos simply parrot the same thing white digital marketers say.
This is why I can’t bring myself to fully engage with a Filipino coach who teaches digital marketing. 99% of the time, they’re simply repeating what they’ve heard from their white American coach. But, often, their promises are at a less grand scale. While white coaches promise their audience the moon and stars, Filipino coaches can only promise a telescope to help you see the moon and stars better.
You know why? Because they, too, cannot let go of our ingrained sense of inferiority to white peoples. They, too, think that, somehow, we can’t want what people in rich countries want. They, too, think we’re not supposed to dream big enough.
I’m not teaching you to be greedy. I’m simply telling you something we all already know—that the social, political, and economic systems the world runs on are HIGHLY SKEWED against our favor. Racism isn’t something that only Americans have to deal with. It’s a problem the whole damn world has been dealing with for centuries. And we need to take a stand now. We need to speak up and start building new systems NOW!
I had long wondered which direction to take my blog in. Over the last several months, I’d been writing about whatever came to mind. I know this blog is tied to my soul work. Whatever kind of meaningful contribution I make to the world, it will be through writing from the heart. But I had no idea how that was going to work out.
White business coaches teach you that if you want to make money and impact fast, you need to target rich, influential people. Logically, that makes sense. Unfortunately, my people aren’t rich. My people aren’t influential.
My people come from poor, third-world nations.
They’re rarely seen or heard. And when they are, it’s usually in some uneducated, stereotypical fashion devised by Hollywood, like what they did with the brown-skinned helpers in Crazy Rich Asians.
They don’t even have a voice in the important conversations about where the world is going right now. And yet, they’re the ones on whose backs the wealth of the world is built.
I have no idea how writing to you can help me make huge money from my blog fast, but I’m writing to you anyway because that’s what I feel in my heart I have to do.
I’m not writing to you to urge you to speak up against racism—but if you feel it in your heart to want to speak up, then please go ahead. I’m not even writing to you to ask you to fight white supremacy.
It’s an issue that badly needs to be confronted, but we’re not the ones who need to do the confronting. It’s those who have held on so staunchly to their beliefs that their skin color somehow makes them better than the rest of us. It’s the people who think it’s their right to use us and abuse us and still somehow believe they’re our saviors.
They’re the ones who need to ask themselves: What about #BlackLivesMatter is making me so uncomfortable? What about these accusations of racism is making me so angry? What about the world around me is mirroring all the things about me I refuse to face?
We, on the other hand, need to do a different kind of confronting. That is, we need to start confronting that part of ourselves that insists on believing we are less significant, less worthy, and less powerful than someone else with a different skin color.
You don’t need religious devotion or a spiritual connection to the fourth dimension to realize this. You only need to look to empirical science—no, you only need to look to common sense to see the very real and true fact that you are worthy whatever your skin color is.
You are just as significant as the next white, black, brown, or green person. You’re taking up space in this world, therefore, you deserve to own that space just as much as the big, loud, white person owns his. And you need to protect that space because that big, loud, white person will want to take it from you.
This is what Changemaker Blog is about. This is what it’s always been about, although I have struggled to put it into words before. It’s about helping you realize that you’re more powerful than you think you are. I’m not talking about social or economic or political power. I’m talking about the kind of power that comes from having a deep connection with God, the Universe, Spirit—whatever you call It.
You can be poor and friendless and cloutless, but when you’re tuned in to this ancient power, you have so much more than the richest man in the world himself. Only this Power alone can change your life. Only this Power alone can change the world.
When people talk about changemakers, they talk about people like Bill Gates and Oprah. For sure, Bill Gates and Oprah have ushered in a lot of changes that have impacted millions of lives. But the world is changing whether we like it or not. And we need a different kind of changemaker to step up.
I’m talking about you. You’re nobody from a poor country in some obscure part of the world. You can change your life. You can change the world. And even if it takes you an entire lifetime to do so, you will. Because you are more important than you think you are. You are more powerful than you know. And I deeply, sincerely, fervently hope that you’re starting to know.
This blog is for you. But it’s also for me too—to help me remember what’s possible when people who believe they can dig deep to change their lives and the world around them.