In an ideal world, racial discrimination would be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a place. Racists are real, discrimination is real and nobody is safe…even in educational institutions.
You don’t need to look far at all to see that racists have infiltrated our schools; just ask Tan Boon Lee. Tan, until recently, was a lecturer at Ngee Ann Poly, where he allegedly also spouted his racist rhetoric during lessons. One of his ex-students even reported him to the school, though Ngee Ann claims they never got a formal write-up regarding Tan.
Therein lies the crux of the problem.
We need to institute a culture that sees speaking out against injustice as the norm.
Most Singaporeans are way too docile, opting to take whatever crap is heading their way and tough it out. It’s admirable but it also means a ton of racism and discrimination goes unreported because we don’t want to make a fuss.
Schools especially have a big part to play in normalizing reporting these incidents. Destigmatizing these and erasing the ‘paiseh’ culture so ingrained in us is essential so that even the hint of impropriety is taken care of.
The responses online for regarding this has been pretty varied.
While it’s pretty unanimous (apart from trolls…one of which I’ll highlight later) that there needs to be talks on how to make it so that discrimination and racism doesn’t go overlooked in schools, folks have a ton of question on how to implement it and its effectiveness.
Like I mentioned about earlier, our ‘paiseh’ culture doesn’t make it easy for whistleblowers to come forward. Not only because of the stigma of going to the authorities, but also because of the possibility of personal fallout.
Remember, despite Tan Boon Lee being caught on video being a racist, there are factions online that doubt the claim of one of his ex-students who said he was that way years ago when she was in his class.
Coming forward is a risk for those who blow the whistle more than those who are being reported. That’s why Netizens are suggesting implementing ways to mitigate these risks without jeopardizing the victim.
However, implementing these suggestions can go only so far. Most Netizens are of the mind that schools don’t listen whenever a student complains.
The Us vs Them mentality applies in schools too, where teachers can sometimes feel that they’re pitted against students. That of course means teachers will close ranks and may dismiss complaints by students without due diligence in investigating.
Far and away, the largest concern among Netizens are the so-called ‘elite’ schools. SAP schools and the such, who have a lot riding on their reputations. It stands to reason that they’re the ones who’d be willing to go to great lengths to cover up unwelcome ‘incidents’.
There’s already been many a debate about the need for SAP schools and whether they’re a breeding ground for elitism and racism so distrust for them among regular Singaporeans isn’t exactly a new thing here.
Expanding on this, some Netizens question how effective this will be considering that some schools will undoubtedly have personnel that will just not listen.
I doubt any logical person will find these questions to not be valid. There’s always the worry (especially if you’re the one reporting) that the complaints will just be ignored and dismissed by those in charge.
Questions like these definitely need to be addressed so that people will become more comfortable stepping forward.
Unfortunately, for the all the serious discussion, there will undoubtedly be fools who come in to present their unwanted opinion.
Case in point.
This Rebecca Tang is a troll. Perhaps one that lives under a bridge. I have no idea. What I do know is the account is simply there to rile up people.
Just look at what she posts and tell me I’m wrong.
Victim blaming, discrimination, elitism…It’s all in there. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Sal’s right in wanting to take away internet anonymity on social media.
That’s certainly a way to shut up these trolls and make people accountable for what they say.