Are you a racist? Am I a racist?
Channel News Asia (CNA) and Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) conducted a nation-wide race survey recently. The results are “revealing and eye-opening”. Link to Survey
The recent CNA documentary “Regardless of Race” was insightful, with Dr Janil asking some direct race questions.
Not really no-holds-barred, but we got some frank and perhaps “unsettling” responses. Think about taboo topics, stereotypes, and racist insinuations.
* Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, and the content reflected on my blog represents only my own opinion *
I had the opportunity to share my own viewpoints on Talking Point this week (Video Toggle link, from 13 minutes 20 seconds onwards)
Race discussions can be sensitive and easily taken out of context.
During Racial Harmony Day, kids would don different costumes to school, reflecting Singapore’s multi-cultural society. But is this once a year event enough to teach our kids about racism?
(Images from CNA IPS survey)
As a parent, I am always trying to find the right opportunity to share why Singapore’s racial harmony should not be taken for granted.
I had previously blog about why racism will remain in Singapore, and to pretend otherwise borders on hypocrisy (blog link). The survey results showcase some undercurrent, which we cannot deny, but should try to understand more. Sweeping our “fears of engagement” under the carpet, just because we feel topic might be insensitive, would not help to clarify anything.
We should not be afraid to discuss Racism with our kids, we just need to find teachable moments to impart the right values (and respect).
The challenge is everyone is using different yardsticks to define racism.
We might feel we are not racists but our actions and behaviour might project another angle.
In other words, I can be a racist without realising it!
I do not really endorse the term Racial “Tolerance”.
After 50 years of independence, surely Singapore must have move beyond tolerance?
I am actively educating and talking my kids to embrace and celebrate Singapore’s multi-cultural diversity.
Most of us believe that kids are colour blind and non-judgmental.
Kids play together, become best friends simply because they enjoy each other’s company.
It is only after they are influenced by external environment (perhaps parents and peers) that they start exhibiting racist behaviours.
Growing up, I did shared that I have buddies from other races that we were comfortable to tease each other with some racial jokes.
No malice, no ill will, we “disturb” each other because we know each other well.
Times have changed, and it is more “sensitive” to tease each with racist jokes nowadays. I am not saying that it should be recommended, but Singaporeans used to gel a lot easier then.
Society is getting more complex as Singapore gets more cosmopolitan.
Mixed marriages, Chinese from China, Indians from India, our cultural melting pot is growing bigger with more ingredients.
I would assume the cooking recipe is now more elaborate and harder to master.
One of the survey results indicate that it is ok to have friends from different races, but the same correspondents would not encourage marriage out of their own race. (The image below indicated that only 20+ percent of Chinese correspondents would accept non-Chinese son or daughter in law.)
(image credit CNA IPS survey)
Why is this mentality still existing in the 21st century?
I have always advocate for mutual affection and love as the basis for a marriage. Neither skin colour, race nor religion should obstruct Love.
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There are many more example in the “Regardless of Race” series of videos, and some findings might make us uncomfortable, but these are all happening day in day out.
“1. Regardless of Race” segments are asking Singaporeans to re-evaluate our position or racial harmony. Can we do more? Can we care more and move forward together as an inclusive society?
There are two segments within which makes the most impact on me.
When Dr Janil interviews the P3 students, their replies are frank and direct, and it makes me realise that racial harmony is always a process.
It is not just reciting the Singapore Pledge, but living our pledge.
2. I am a parent myself, and kids should not face discriminatory remarks in school, or worse engage in bullying of others (Video link)
3. Dr Janil ask questions and participants step infront or behind. The end result shows Chinese members in the front, suggesting that Chinese (Singapore’s majority ethnicity group) do enjoy more “privileges” in Singapore. Video link.
I am actively teaching my kids to embrace and treasure Singapore’s multi-cultural scene.
Where else can we find different places of worship co-existing together harmoniously?
Look for teachable moments, focus on the Positive aspect of race relations.
Be it adults or children, be open and we can all agree to disagree.
If it is any consolation, it is easier to talk about racism compared to sex education :p
Regardless of Race, Language and Religion.
Let us strive to live up to our Pledge.
Additional details :
– Full CNA IPS Survey results
– Talking Point panel discussion (Toggle link)
(Start from 13 min 20 seconds)
– Onepeople.sg promotes Racial Harmony in Singapore
– Related Channel News Asia articles, Part 1, 2 and 3.