BELOW is a photo contribution of U.S.-based Filipino social documentary photographer Rick Rocamora, as well as his personal reflections on the much anticipated inaugural ceremony of Barack Hussein Obama on January 20 as the first African-American president of the most powerful country in the world.
Hoping for a better tomorrow for immigrants
Barack Hussein Obama’s election as president of the United States rekindles memories of discrimination that I have experienced since I arrived in America. His election will not erase the pain but it gives me hope that America is capable of change in her attitude towards the immigrant community.
As immigrants, our contributions to America are rarely acknowledged. The hateful slurs and chauvinist attitudes that we experience are not easy to forget, but the pain challenges us to excel and prove that we deserve the same respect and recognition as any native-born American.
After a successful career in pharmaceutical sales, I pursued a career in social documentary photography, not to focus on the hardships or exotic lives of immigrants as some prefer to do, but on their contributions to America, the protection of their civil liberties, and the free exercise of their personal beliefs.
“America’s Unrecognized Assets,” is about Vinod Dham, the father of the Pentium chip, and many others like him whose innovation and entrepreneurial spirit is the backbone of our technology industry in Silicon Valley. My book, “America’s Second-Class Veterans,” (forthcoming in February) is about old Filipino World War II veterans who are still waiting for full recognition as equals of their native-born comrades with whom they risked their lives in countless battles in the Philippine Islands. “Living with Freedom and Fear,” is about Muslim-Americans who continually face the impact of the events of 9/11, not because they are guilty of any crime, but because of their religious beliefs, facial hair, unfamiliar names, and head coverings.
The election of an African-American president will not guarantee an end to racist attitudes toward immigrants, but I hope it provides a new path to a better understanding of our role in this country.
As Washington looks forward to Obama, immigrants look forward to a better tomorrow.