I left this blog for a while, seeking to fully enjoy being home, and engaging in fully personal experiences. I’ve become closer friends with some I never expected to, and even better, made new friends with interesting lives and stories.
Growing up, it was hard not to associate people to a certain group or stereotype. I guess thats what a “harmonious, multicultural” society brings about. I guess we fell into it, as we were taught to.Whilst we live fairly peacefully with each other it is without a doubt filled with segregational pressures and indirect racism. I never realised how bad it was, until being away for a year in a whole new place with completely different social rituals, and coming back.
It was a shock. The rude behaviour I had never noticed before suddenly showed itself in full raw, uncut glory. It was with pure disgust that I started to analyse my ways, and started to wonder if I had subconsciously subscribed to that. That my little bubble of peace, friendliness, and “everything was okay” was actually just a fraction of society that behaved decently.
Having realised that, I started looking at people differently. I started questioning anyone who seemed to wonder about someone’s race and I went along the lines of “did it really matter?”. The oddness was that this place that I called home struck me as severely hostile. From a personal point of view, I had never realised the indirect racism I had been subject to, as with many people of my race. They were of the kind that welcomed you, and treated you like an equal only to blatantly, and grotesquely point out several flaws in your “people” and how different you really were. I began to flinch more every time someone “jokingly” mentioned our lack of cleanliness (some of us are far cleaner than a lot of you bastards), our lack of direction in life, our gangster like association, and so much more. It became apparent to me that they treated me as an anomaly of the race, not proof that their generalisations were wrong. They treated me as the “chosen one”, the one of that race they allowed into their group, while they disgustingly criticised people I share a race with in front of me. And they turn my “people” argument back on me. It has become “Oh, but we don’t mean you, just in general, not all of you are like that.” But isn’t that enough of a hint that the ones who are “not like that” are anomalies?
And its sad because, I have seen people so very discouraged from a young age to do well, that they get involved in very “stereotypical” things.
I’d like to say it isn’t because of their race, but maybe it is because of the colour of their skin, that others seem to tell them that they will grow up a certain way, speak a certain way, fail a certain way, and so they subscribe to that.
Going out in friend groups made me realise the worst. We find ourselves avoiding mixed groups, for one or the other may be left out. And I firmly dislike this behaviour. I believe inclusivity comes from the individual supposedly “left out”. Understandably, certain groups have a way of excluding people, by language and more. But in most cases I’ve been involved in, it seemed to me that there was a lack of interest in wanting to relate, and seated on a high horse that person decidedly didn’t find a need to do so. Instead, silence and complaints later on make it seem incredibly hostile, and instead of a friendship its a competition that aims at balance, and holding everyone’s feelings on trays of glasses.
I am degraded for the races of the people I spend time with. And it frustrates me so much that “race” even matters anymore. Malaysians are obsessed with figuring out if you have any mixed blood and if so, a fairer kind of mixed elevates your status. You’re not fully of the dark side like the rest of us, no, or maybe that mixed blood explains your intelligent behaviour, or your bad tolerance for alcohol. Its painful to see this happen. And it hurts, as much as everyone makes it sound like a compliment. Its a message to the rest of us that, if you do well, you were never your race to begin with. If you aren’t mixed, but aren’t “like the rest of your people” then don’t worry, we’ll turn you against them, and soon you will have the same prejudice. Your sentences will end with “I hate to sound like I’m stereotyping but its actually true! I mean even though I’m *race*, I agree.”
And people will nod. Feel better about themselves because its “fact”. Because then we are assured that when we grew up learning race determined someone’s behaviour, future, and worth, we weren’t taught wrong.
Who needs to change ideals we learnt so young anyway? It must be SO hard to be Malaysian, and the stereotypes “help” keep us safe.
You have no idea how many people have said that last sentence to me. My eyes have muscles from rolling so much these days. Cure this frustration in me and help me educate anyone who is doing this. Regardless of age, it is easy to talk to most people about this from a calm, reasonable perspective. We are a nation that needs no race to identify us. Our culture is important yes, our different family traits, traditions, but thats entirely individual. No one person is the exact same as another, even culture wise.
Its not who we are. We are perhaps the most unique bunch of people thrown together, with all sorts of beliefs and practices, it would seem ridiculous to even categorise us.
Though its astounding that we still do, badly.