Friday, April 26, 2013

Something to keep in mind

Something to keep for future reference. A perspective on racism in Singapore, a topic nobody wants to talk about (even legally forbidden to talk about) and a big giant elephant in a tiny room nobody wants to acknowledge. I was a member of the majority and I remember my own delusions, thoughts, and emotions - then and now. The good news is that they are not very different. I am more aware of the subtle changes, and am more (I think! I hope!) capable of self-reflection. Let us just say I'm far happier a member of the minority here in the USA, than a member of the majority back in Singapore.


Kevin Jang said...

Even as one of the 'majority' in Singapore back then, I never felt like I belonged. I did not have that many Chinese-heritage friends, did not relate to their perspectives on life and other things, nor could I have a heartfelt conversation in sitting down one-to-one. Yes, being a minority anywhere else, even as a foreigner or 'gaijin'(outsider) in homogeneous Japan, was and is still preferable to Singapore. Even Chinese-against-Chinese/Asian racism is so prevalent there. (By the way, the girl is actually pretty and she writes well compared to the average American I know, so kudos to that bravery on stating an issue which Singaporeans love to "don't ask, don't tell" on.)

Chee Wai Lee said...

It was a different kind of bigotry as a member of the majority back in Singapore, methinks. I can summarize it as a power structure (across many different strata) of the haves and the have-nots. The thing that got me most was a general lack of empathy about it. People in general seem to (consciously or not) *want* to remind you that "you have not". I conformed to that construct, but was never comfortable in it. The Americans taught me that individualism generally meant respect for the individual with a healthy dose of empathy for any of the difficulties faced by said individual. "First World Problem" jokes remain in general, jokes. I've witnessed way too many Singaporeans who take that joke way too seriously.

Kevin Jang said...

There is racism--or a lack of understanding towards other ethnicities--in most places, even in Japan or the USA. To be fair, I do think though that there are laws in place to protect people who make such moves to discriminate against someone based on ethnicity in the western world. Anywhere else outside of that, it is really a big toss up for power.