Saturday night I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at a dinner for the Valley’s Filipino community, which surprisingly numbers over 20,000 residents.
What a dream for me to have an audience my size. While in school I was considered too short for the chess team, in the Philippines I might be a basketball all-star.
Many of us have achieved prominence. You’ve never heard a child ask about Snow White and the Seven Tall Guys.
I also shared with that group my understanding that a certain amount of discrimination is directed at many of us under 5-foot-8. It’s an established fact that greater business opportunities and advancement often go to six-footers. Is that always because of more impressive qualifications? No. All too many of those decisions are based on perception. It’s certainly not always based on size.
That night I was in the company of people whose Filipino origins had created experiences for them that were anti-Asian, anti-Latino and anti-different. Their grandparents lived through the invasion of the Japanese military, but at that same time Japanese-Americans were being forcibly removed from their homes here in the U.S. and sent to internment camps.
That’s why no matter how tall we are, we must never let our memories be too short.
I’m Pat McMahon.