Sunday, June 22, 2008

The reverse is also true

Friends used to complain to me about the racist attitudes of Australians, Americans and the British towards them, the Asian Other.

I used to shrug and tell them that all countries will have a certain proportion of people with racist attitudes and they would smugly tell me that "no, Singapore is not like that". I used to try and explain that they, as well educated Chinese Singaporeans, were unlikely to suffer from racism as they were usually the ones being racist to others but I never felt that the message got through to them.

Recently, I went to one of the many Crystal Jade branches with an Indian friend, M, who has an especial fondness for century egg porridge. Throughout our entire meal, the waitress serving us spoke to me in Mandarin and seemed reluctant to even speak to him or look him in the eye. I was offended on M's behalf but M didn't say much about it, possibly because he's used to the treatment.

Another sadder tale, is that of an Aussie friend of mine, whose Singaporean girlfriend's family disapproved of their relationship to the point where it tore them both apart. They could not, would not accept that she was dating a non Chinese boy and the relationship didn't survive the disapproval.

Where there are narrow minded, xenophobic people, racism will exist. This post by a well known local blogger highlights the situation in Singapore rather aptly beneath the angry words and tone.

Singapore is not exempt from racism just because we have public holidays for several races and religious faiths.

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