One of the comments I get from people, even Indians, is this one, “Why are you so angry? Why do you talk about this all the time?”
Now, I don’t just talk about it cos I’m pissed off about it. I talk about it, and out loud, because I WANT OTHER PEOPLE TO GET ANGRY. Indians and Malays in Singapore are used to being told to shut up, to not talk about our discrimination, to agree that our humanity is worth less than theirs, to agree that the systemic racism foisted on us is our fault because we didn’t work hard enough. After awhile, you become numb to it, some even internalize it and spout it back. You start to think that this is just the way it is, or worse that this is how it’s always been and always will be, and therefore has no chance for change.
That’s what they want you think. If you accept it, you’ll never fight it. If they can make you blind to it, you’ll never fight it. If you can tolerate it and go on, you’ll never fight it. And then they win.
And that’s one of the big things this blog aims to do. It is here to make you angry, to make you realize your oppression, and their privilege ,and to stop you from being so fucking tolerant of it.
Because then, finally we can change it together.
“The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
-Assata Shakur: An Autobiography
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.”
Every now and then you will get lucky. You will meet a Chinese person who will admit racism exists in Singapore and that it is a problem. Inevitably however, they will tell you it’s not THEIR problem. They will say it’s not their fault and that you are making them feel bad for something they have no control over. It usually sounds like this. “Why do you have to make me feel bad for being born Chinese by pointing out the fact I get benefits from a Chinese supremacist society?”
Because you and your ancestors have constructed a society where me and my people have limited access to. We are told we are not good enough, not beautiful enough, not smart enough and to keep us there, we are restricted from the power to cause change. We are supposed to be on the bottom of the social hierarchy and you keep us there by denying us affirmative action, equal access to employment and scholarships in education. Then you tell us it’s our fault for not working hard enough to get what you got just for being Chinese.
You think you feel bad motherfucker? Try being me for a day.
There’s a lot of this going around. “I’m not racist but..” and this is usually followed by racist words. This is a variation on the theme. This is the one where they say “I’m not racist but I’m just not attracted to brown skin/Malays or dark skin/Indians.” This is not acceptable. You have to push these people to ask WHY they are conditioned to believe so.
“Attraction is not just about a feeling. It’s a heavily mediated experience and part of an industry that pumps billions into creating images of what women should look like. It can be hard to decipher what you are attracted to versus what you have internalized as attractive. This goes for both how we see ourselves and how we see others, and it leaves a lot of room to fester for some really messed up ideology about size, race, and sexuality. Chinese standards of beauty get conflated with romantic ideals and create ideas of what romantic femininity should look like, all serving to uphold a certain standard of beauty. This impacts our self-esteem, the kind of energy we put out there, the types of people that are drawn to us, and ultimately who we end up dating.”
||(Adapted from) Samhita Mukhopadhyay
So once in awhile you’ll come across Chinese people who will say racism does exist, but we should move past it and not talk about race and instead concentrate on how we are all part of the human race. This is crap. See it for what it is. This person does not want to hear about your oppression. He wants you to forget it and join him in the fight for democracy/liberal human rights/ anti-PAP/ whatever nonsense the liberal media has told Chinese people they should care about that month.
“The notion that we should all forsake attachment to race and/or cultural identity and be ‘just humans’ takes place within the framework of Chinese supremacy, and this has usually meant that subordinate groups must surrender their identities, beliefs, values, and assimilate by adopting the values and beliefs of privileged-class Chinese. Rather than promoting racial harmony, this thinking has created a fierce cultural protectionism.”