#WearImFrom: Victor Diaz Zapanta, product designer and activist, as told to NBC Asian America contributor Ruby Veridiano
This shirt is from when I was organizing with Student Action for Veterans Equity, or SAVE, a coalition of Filipino Americans who are fighting to restore the recognition and equal benefits promised to Filipino veterans of World War II.
I first heard about this injustice as a student at UC Davis. I think my first reaction was my own shock that this piece of history had eluded me. I was a high achieving student, I was well-informed, I took the history A.P. [exam], and yet my schooling neglected this part of our history. Immediately, I felt the need to take action. My grandfather, who I am named after, was one of those Veteranos, the title we give the in the Fil-Am community. I knew I had to get involved in the fight for equity.
Honestly, I feel sad. We didn’t win that fight for full equity. My grandfather passed away in 2008, never being recognized for his service to the United States. Those who stayed in the fight longer than I did saw to it that the remaining Veteranos would eventually receive recognition and compensation under the Obama administration, and I’m thankful for their work.
At the end of the day, this shirt reminds me that we have a long way to go. Our community must not be complicit. We must fight for justice in solidarity with all oppressed people in this nation.
Share your photos and stories about how the clothing, accessories, or art you wear express your background and identity using the hashtag #WearImFrom on Twitter and Instagram.