Racism is very real and subtle in Singapore.

How about we stop pretending one second and admit that racism exists within our country. Underneath the rosy veneer that we’ve all been sold on, the ugly fact is that racism is alive and well in Singapore.

I’m not even going to dive into the idea of the majority against the minority; I mean racism equally. As a Singaporean who was born and raised here, I’ve seen racism throughout my entire life, and it’s never the obvious kind that draws attention. 

I’m Indian Muslim, and my genetics take after my dad, who was dark skinned. Since he was dark, I’m dark too. Being dark skinned has made me privy to some things that might go unknown for the average Singaporean.

It’s always the subtle ones that don’t make the news, but you see it daily.

Be it Chinese, Malay, Indian or Eurasian; racism applies to us all and like most of you I’ve heard it all and seen it all, but we pretend that it doesn’t exist. Other countries believe that we have reached racial harmony, but we know better, don’t we? We, who have lived through school, national service and work-life know that what we have in Singapore is called Racial Tolerance.

I’ve been sneered at by other races just because I’m dark skinned. I remember an incident early in my life when an elderly person literally changed seats because I sat down next to them. I might have brushed it off as a regular incident (perhaps the sun was getting in the way), but the look of disgust on the face of that person meant it was for a very different, ugly reason.

Racism has been steadily rising everywhere, not just in Singapore. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, when we think we know everything there is to know just by googling it. It’s not hard to look down on somebody else because we think we’re better.

Dark skinned? Then you must be Indian. Indians are smelly, filthy and worthless. Just like Bangladeshis and the other dark skinned foreign workers. Singaporeans have this view that foreign workers (particularly the manual labor ones) are somehow inferior, which is something that we should move to change.

I’ll be frank; I have no idea to eradicate racism. Maybe its a flaw of the human species to always want to be better than the other by continuously comparing themselves or the idea of wanting to be part of something more?

There are too many reasons and excuses to pinpoint the cause, but one thing that escapes most of us is the fact that we are all humans. We are already part of that structure, and everything else that follows on after is just categories that only serve to define as an individual and nothing else.

You might be wondering what sparked this post and if you have been catching up the news, you would know that it’s regarding a family that was treated differently for what they represented. And let’s be honest, this is not the first time we have seen something like this, right?

We have seen this in school when a teacher treats a student differently because of his background, we have seen it in National Service when an officer chooses to abuse his power against someone he despises, and we have seen it in the buses when someone stares at a person because they are of another colour that had chosen to sit beside them. 

It’s probably past time that we took a better look around at racism and do something about it, instead of letting it fester on like a disease that might be out of control one day.

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