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This essay addresses Filipino sailors’ shifting racial locations in the military hierarchy of the U.S. Navy during World War II. Using archived correspondence between military officials and civilians, the essay explores Filipinos’ hierarchical location in a complex system of U.S. military racial segregation. It explores varying “preferences” for Filipino messmen in relation to other racially subordinated military personnel as well as civilian complaints of racial segregation in a time of war. The essay considers these civilian pressures and the geopolitical relationship between the United States and the Philippines that led to the U.S. military’s reluctant and cosmetic makeover of its racist enlistment system before more inclusive integration of the U.S. military after World War II.

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