Growing Up Brown

Memoirs of a Filipino American

Peter M. Jamero, Sr.
Foreword by Dorothy Laigo Cordova, Peter Bacho, and Fred Cordova

  • Published: July 2015
  • Subject Listing: Asian American Studies; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir
  • Bibliographic information: 348 pp., 52 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

"I may have been like other boys, but there was a major difference - my family included 80 to 100 single young men residing in a Filipino farm-labor camp. It was as a 'campo' boy that I first learned of my ancestral roots and the sometimes tortuous path that Filipinos took in sailing halfway around the world to the promise that was America. It was as a campo boy that I first learned the values of family, community, hard work, and education. As a campo boy, I also began to see the two faces of America, a place where Filipinos were at once welcomed and excluded, were considered equal and were discriminated against. It was a place where the values of fairness and freedom often fell short when Filipinos put them to the test."" - Peter Jamero

Peter Jamero's story of hardship and success illuminates the experience of what he calls the "bridge generation" - the American-born children of the Filipinos recruited as farm workers in the 1920s and 30s. Their experiences span the gap between these early immigrants and those Filipinos who owe their U.S. residency to the liberalization of immigration laws in 1965. His book is a sequel of sorts to Carlos Bulosan's America Is in the Heart, with themes of heartbreaking struggle against racism and poverty and eventual triumph.

Jamero describes his early life in a farm-labor camp in Livingston, California, and the path that took him, through naval service and graduate school, far beyond Livingston. A longtime community activist and civic leader, Jamero describes decades of toil and progress before the Filipino community entered the sociopolitical mainstream. He shares a wealth of anecdotes and reflections from his career as an executive of health and human service programs in Sacramento, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Francisco.
Peter Jamero is a community activist and former executive director of the Asian American Recovery Services in San Francisco, assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington, and state director of the Washington vocational rehabilitation program.

"Growing Up Brown is intense, honest, and meaningful. Its major contributions will be etched in the ways it presents a 'local' story of a significant Filipino American bridge generation member cast within a larger tale of 'brown' Americans and their struggles to define themselves in relation to others, to find meaning in the communities and worlds they inhabited, and to tell their stories using their own voices and perspectives."
-Rick Bonus, author of Locating Filipino Americans: Ethnicity and the Cultural Politics of Space
Foreword by Dorothy Laigo Cordova
Introduction by Peter Bacho


Part One Campo Life, 1930-1944
1. The Adventure Begins
2. Maeda's Place
3. Amid the Almond Trees
4. Livingston

Part Two Learning About the Real World, 1944-1957
5. High School Years
6. Join the Navy and See the World
7. College Days

Part Three Early Career, 1957-1970
8. My First Real Job
9. Moving Up
10. Washington, D.C.
11. A Stanford Man

Part Four The Activist Executive, 1970-1995
12. Region X
13. Umbrella Agency
14. The Professor
15. King County
16. United Way
17. Whose Human Rights?
18. Community Based


Afterword by Fred Cordova


"Growing Up Brown is highly recommended for any person of Filipino ancestry. Mr. Jamero's story is also an important read for anyone who has struggled to advance their own culture..his writing made me feel like a member of his closest circle of friends. By the end, I'm sure you will, like me, hope to have the opportunity to meet Mr. Jamero in person."
-Journal of the West