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

Singaporean Chinese Privilege

When a Chinese Singaporean says that they understand (they usually don’t) your grievances but they should not be held responsible because they didn’t choose to be born Chinese.

You say…

“Privilege is not something I take and which I therefore have the option of not taking. It is something that society gives me and unless I change the institutions which give it to me, they will continue to give it, and I will continue to have it, however noble and egalitarian my intentions.”

Harry Brod, “Privilege, Power, and Difference”

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)

What is racism?

When people tell you that racism is about people being mean to one another, and if you just educate them, things will get better, or worse that nothing can be done because it’s just a personal failing on the part of these people.

You say……

“By failing to grasp racism as structural phenomenon, racism has, therefore, been regarded as (1) a disease afflicting certain individuals, (2) a phenomenon that does not affect the social body and its institutions, and (3) a social problem that has to be analyzed “clinically,” that is, by separating the “good” versus the “bad” apples in the population through surveys on racial attitudes.”

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva & Gianpaolo Baiocchi, “Anything but racism: how sociologists limit the significance of racism”