Happy International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination!
You’ve probably met them before. In the US, they’re a special class of white people, but in Malaysia, they’re a special class of privileged… (X)… who’ll utter “I’m not being racist but…” and also do racist things but declare themselves ‘least racist person’ in the room.
We, as a nation, need to start checking our privilege whether it comes in the form of money or even the race we were born with. As Malaysians, we make racist jokes everyday because our country is super diverse and I mean, come on. How many times have you heard the whole – Oh if you’re Chinese, you must gamble a lot, are stingy, must be business man, etc. If you’re Indian, oh I can’t see you in the dark lololol. Do you hit your wife? You must love Bombay Saphire and get so drunk you start fights. If you’re Malay, you must be lazy, rely on the government, marry 4 wifes (if you’re a guy), be totally submissive (if you’re a girl), and you breed like a kilang.
Jokes are jokes. It is always important to look at intent and context. But I’m pretty sure each and everyone of you have that one person (most likely a relative) you know that not only says racist things and MEAN IT, but also oppress and spread lies/conspiracy theories about the other races. If you don’t, these are some phrases that they use so you can identify them better. And if you’re going “oh shit, these are things I say”, then you really need… some education, bro.
1. “Why must everything have to be about race?”
This is one of the most-used phrase by these types of people, let’s name them ‘not-racists’. To them, talking about race creates divisiveness. Their theory is that the more people point our racism, the more… no. I really don’t know how the second part works. The real truth is that talking about race makes people of the majority race (in the US, white people, in Malaysia, Malay people) feel uncomfortable.
It is a phrase used to deflect further discussion about racism because talking about it means having to admit you see another race different than you see yours, and that might make you seem like a bad person. It means having to admit that your background has nurtured something deep inside you that makes you view someone of a different skin colour (in your country) as something beneath you. It’s hard to open up and change something your family has been telling you all your life, using fear as a tool to distance yourself from another human being because of stereotypes. But the moment we start talking about it and stop deflecting the fact that racism exists and it oppresses many, is when we take the first step towards ACTUALLY seeing everyone equally whilst also acknowledging their race. Which we will get to next.
2. “I don’t see colour”
This is probably my favourite because I personally have used this when I was younger and naïve. Do you stop at green lights? How do you play checkers? Not-racists will try to convince you that they don’t care about race (ironically) by erasing the concept of race altogether, which is a totally self-righteous and egalitarian.
The thing is, the idea of a post-racial society is really what the big majority race wants. This is because many don’t understand that their race (being the majority) has surpassed the classification of racial category and has become the ‘default’. But many forget that though the minority race (in a country) wants to be treated like everyone else, they do not desire to be seen as everyone else. Many love their race and culture, it is a large part of who we are. None of us care if you’re colour-blind. We just care that you acknowledge that racial differences, respect it and treat everyone the same way.
3. “I dated a (insert minority race) before” / “I grew up around (insert minority race) people”
Firstly, who are these people who left the relationship whilst leaving these people #unwoke as they found them? Or maybe that’s why they left them… Like who told these people that just because they had a ‘special’ connection with one or two people from a minority race gives them immunity to being a bigot? Then why not just ignore marches and just have a massive orgy? Wouldn’t that just solve the entire world’s problems and create world peace?
That’s not how racism works.
4. “You’re the racist!”
I love how the moment one tries to have a discussion, many would freak out, yelling this phrase. Now, I’m not one to say minority races can’t be racists, I mean… we’re in Malaysia. I don’t deny hearing racism from every single race. But factually, the racism that comes from a majority race actually affects minority race whereas, when it comes from a minority race, it’s not a big affect… and butt-hurt-ness is rarely a big deal, if a deal at all.
5. “Not all (insert majority race) people … ”
Say, you own a Tesla, and you hear a mechanic advise everyone to change their oil every 3,000 miles, you probably wouldn’t say “NOT ALL CARS!”. Because I’m pretty sure you’re intelligent enough to know that the mechanic is referring to most cars or the typical car that needs it. Somewhere… there exists a cat who likes having mice as friends, but for the most part…
People who object to word combinations like “white people” only do so because they aren’t used to being stereotyped, and the moment its uttered, they quickly feel attacked and need to say “NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE”. We must start being accustomed to living with the knowledge that your skin engenders certain thoughts about who you are, no matter what your race is. The majority race often does not have to navigate a world that presupposes their psyche on a daily basis… which is why it’s called “(insert race) privilege”.
6. “Go back to Africa/China/India/etc (wherever majority races think minority races are from)!”
Not-racists tend to think that just because they’re the majority race, that the country belongs to them and that their skin colour/race endows them with the privilege to excommunicate the offenders of their country at will. ‘(X) Privilege’ is believing that you have the right to tell anyone to leave the country they built with their own hands. In Malaysia, many Malays believe that they’re the only one who had a hand in building this country, and that the Chinese and Indian came here to share/steal in their wealth. I sometimes think that they purposefully forget (and intend to erase) what they took from our own Orang Asli and the contributions the Chinese and Indian have made for this country.
‘(X) Privilege’ is the belief that this country is yours and that anyone who does like it should just ‘go back to where they came from’, even they that place is the same place is yours… it is the belief that disagreeing with the ‘big guy’ (who usually belongs to the majority) = anti-Malaysian/American/etc.
7. “Why must you always be the victim?”
Now, this is something I don’t hear personally said to me because half of me belongs to the majority race, but I’ve heard it said to my friends… by my fellow Malays. This not-racist premise posits that when the minority race plays the ‘race card’, they are blaming their failures on racism. According to not-racists, minority races want to villainies majority races, and ‘play’ themselves as the victim.
In fact, it’s almost the same as asking someone who was sexually abused to never talk about it and even to keep quiet if the cops ask about it because it turns them into the victims.
8. “I don’t want to sound racist, but … ”
“What did father use to say? Everything before the word “but” is horse shit.”
– Jon Snow, Game of Thrones Season 7
This is probably the most famous phrase of them all. As Malaysians, I’m almost sure that everyone (including myself) has used this phrase. It’s like if R. Kelly opened up a day care centre using the motto “I’m not a pedophile but I’d love to babysit your kids!”.
Just… Don’t. Firstly, if you use this phrase often, stop. It took me time, and sometimes I still slip up and say it. And if you hear it, just stop that person, and tell them to just restart their sentence with whatever comes after “…but…” and tell them that if it makes them sound like an A-hole, then it’s probably because it’s an A-hole thing to say.
With Trump being president of the US, and our own country getting more divisive, the population of not-racists is steadily growing. And I’m sure as hell not going to live in a country where our own leading mirrors Trump himself. Let’s not let them divide and conquer, let’s work together instead and create equality and peace. If not, a huge nationwide orgy might also work.