Maria Myraine: Filipinos for Black Lives


With writing credits for several leading media outlets, a successful modeling career, and her own boutique public relations company, Maria “My-My” Myraine leverages her influence to fight the good fight for social justice every day.

First, tell us what inspired you to launch Filipinos for Black Lives.
Initially, I had seen a group called Asians for Black Lives and it was New York City based. I thought this is something that I wanted to get involved in, being an Asian American Pacific Islander. I attended a meeting and in the beginning, me and one of the admins of the group talked and she seemed cool. It’s a weird thing that a lot of people don’t know about the Asian community, some don’t consider Filipinos Asian. As soon as they found out I was Filipino, it was awkward. Essentially, what they wanted to do with the group wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to do more community work and educate both groups so that we can understand both cultures. Since they kind of shunned me, I decided to start my own group, Filipinos for Black Lives.

What has been the biggest challenge in creating this movement?
I think that you’ve seen some of my post where there are debates going on in the comments. Essentially, I think there are a lot of people on both sides not understanding. Some people ask what can a Filipino girl understand about black struggles and say most Asians are racist anyways. I get a lot of that thrown at me. At the same time, I am also saying that you can’t judge every Filipino Asian you meet off your experiences with a few because then you’re no better than any other oppressor. I think that has really been a challenge – to be taking seriously.

Some Black people may say what do we know them. In turn, I could ask what do you know about us. That has really been a struggle and that’s why having this group is important so we can defuse all that.

We have seen your posts and we support your cause. How big of a role do stereotypes and the media play into the lack of multicultural understanding?
Interesting enough, I am reading this book that I shared on Facebook entitled “Afro Asia”. I am still pretty much in the introductory part of the book, but it says a lot in those first few chapters about how Asians and Blacks have been constantly pitted against each other. Who pitted us against each other? The book’s theory is that the government did it because they don’t want any minorities to have alliances among themselves which kind of makes sense. I think a lot of the issue stem from that. I feel that the media plays a big part in pushing that agenda. Stereotypes and racist viewpoints occur so frequently in film and television that they become accepted as normal behaviors.

You are an accomplished journalist and publicist. In what ways has your background as a writer benefited your public relations company?
Starting out as a journalist, I get to look at my public relation projects from that side because I work with other writers and editors, and I get publicist pitching to me all the time. Being able to understand things from a writer’s perspective allows me to pitch to journalist and know how to reach them effectively. These days, I think a lot of publicists feel entitled like they’re owed something instead of building relationships, knowing the writers and knowing the publications.

What led to your decision to pursue a career in journalism?
I went to St. John and in my freshman or sophomore year, blogs started to become popular. Me and my roommate decided to start blogging ourselves. We were big hip hop fans and alway very opinionated. We used to make Facebook videos and stuff. We created a blog and that kind of led to other opportunities. We started writing for Brooklyn Bodega which is in charge of the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival. Justin Hunte was the editor there so when he went to HipHopDX, he brought me over there. That was my first paid writing position and it opened doors for me as a journalist and I started contributing everywhere else.

 

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