How to get rescued

You know, if an Indian and Malay person are ever lost in a desert with no hope of being found, they should start talking about Singaporean Chinese privilege.

Because within a heartbeat a Singaporean Chinese would turn up and try to wedge themselves into the conversation by telling them how it doesn’t exist.

 

Adapted from sleepydumpling.tumblr.com

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You’re dividing Singaporeans instead of uniting us!

One of the more common crap I hear, related to the “We’re all human/ Singaporean!” and “Why must you talk about race?” is this one.

“Some people complain that those who work for social change are being ‘divisive’ when they draw attention to oppressive systems organized around one form of privilege or another. But when members of dominant groups mark differences by excluding or discriminating against subordinate groups and treating them as ‘other’, they aren’t accused of being divisive. Usually it’s only when someone calls attention to how differences are used as a basis of privilege that the claim of divisiveness comes up.”

Allan G.Johnson

The “Everything is Me” version of Chinese Tears

So when you talk about racism in Singapore, Chinese people get really upset. There’s lots of reasons why. Today you shall get just the first of many.

This one is easy. These are the people for whom everything revolves around them. They have no idea there is racism because they haven’t ever felt it. The Chinese Supremacist dialogue is the only one they’ve ever been involved in and when they are confronted with a discourse that doesn’t put them front and centre, the lose their minds. It’s just completely jarring to hear that the reality you’ve been living in isn’t real.

And so you’ll get this.

“me! me! me! what about ME!!! This isn’t about me and everything is usually about me but consider ME! Here’s something you didn’t consider— ME!”

Usually it’ll come in the following format.

” But many Chinese people are poor you know? There are many Chinese people who don’t go to university. Consider how the elite people treat us so badly! Here’s something you didn’t consider-that lower class Chinese people are just as disadvantaged.

Sigh, shake your head and walk away. These people aren’t ready for even the smallest amount of truth. You gotta let this one go.

Why are you so sensitive?

We’ve all met them. Those Chinese people who revel in their moral superiority and belief that simply by saying they are not racist, that means they are not. And that means that whatever racist thing they say that you are offended by just means you’re the sensitive one.

You say…

“Not being racist is not some default starting position. You don’t simply get to say you’re not a racist; not being racist is a constant, arduous process of unlearning, of being uncomfortable, of eating crow and being humbled and re-evaluating. It’s probably hard to start that process if you’ve been told that every thought you have is golden and should be given voice, and that people who are offended by what you say are hypersensitive simpletons.”

Do not be silent

Whenever we talk about our oppression, Chinese people WILL tell you to shut up. They’ll do it in nice ways sometimes (why race? why can’t we all just be Singaporean?). Sometimes they’ll do it by trying to tell you what their experience is instead. (I felt it when I was in Australia!) Sometimes they’ll outright tell you to shut the fuck up. DO NOT. Do not be cowed. Do not feel alone. If you don’t keep saying it, they will say it doesn’t exist. And they will use your silence to prove they are correct.

Remember…

“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Zora Neale Hurston

For the Indians/ Malay racism denialists

Sometimes it’s not the Chinese. Sometimes it’s our very own people. The liberal elite class who have bought into the majority discourse so much/ so badly want to be accepted that they only date Chinese girls and learn Mandarin. You know them; the ones who say  “I’m a member of x group and I’m not offended” when you point out racism.

You say….

“You not being offended doesn’t mean that you’re right and the other person is wrong. Not being bothered by something is not a right or wrong issue. It only tells me something about you.

It could just mean you’re particularly oblivious and lack understanding or context. It could mean that you’ve bought into a subordinate position demanded of you by belonging to a marginalized group. It could mean that you’re just childish and naive and believe that little things don’t tie into bigger things (they always do). Just realize you’re not special by saying this.

Not to mention, even if you are a member of X group, you’re still talking over and thereby trivializing and disrespecting the experiences and feelings of other people; you’re not contributing to the discussion, you’re derailing it, which indeed says a lot about you: “the expression of my irrelevant opinion is more important than your voice and expression of pain and concern.”

Racism isn’t just some Chinese guy calling you apu neh neh

When Chinese Singaporeans (or anyone) tells you that racism is personal, not systemic and the answer is education, not changing the system.

You say…

I think the problem is that many people in Singapore think that racism is an attitude. And this is encouraged by the system. So they think that what people think is what makes them a racist. Racism is not an attitude.

If a Chinese man dislikes me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to deny me employment or any other opportunity, that’s my problem. Racism is not a question of attitude; it’s a question of power.

— (Adapted from) Stokely Carmichael

Racism is just someone’s personal problem

 When you hear someone telling you that racism is just someone’s belief and therefore you should respect their opinions/ that it’s not such a big deal/ that there’s nothing you can do about it.

You say…

“The habit of considering racism as a mental quirk, as a psychological flaw, must be abandoned.”

Frantz Fanon (1967:77)