Time for some self-reflection.
The Volume of Interactions have written a lot about race relations in Malaysia lately, and most of it hasn’t been pretty.
In each of those postings, i’ve made a race distinction between the races, the me vs them, the Malays, Indians, Chinese and infamous “lain-lain”. Before someone claims me racist, its best for me to check myself first — am i racist?
I think i have a sense of identity and pride; i know what i am and i’m proud to be what i am. While i perhaps should be saying, “I want all Malaysians to be better”, i can’t help but whisper in my heart of hearts that, “I want all Malays to be better too.” In fact, it wouldn’t be half bad if Malays were the best at everything that they do.
Perhaps my only redeeming grace, if i have one, is that i wish the same for everyone else. The fact that i recognize the existence of a divide, a chasm of “us” and “everyone else” takes the gloss off that wish. I am ashamed.
However, its a paradigm of the nation. I wouldn’t say its a paradigm of Malaysia alone, but one of an increasingly globalized world. The Chinese of China are divided into the prosperous Shanghainese and pathetically poor West Chinese Muslims. The USA, a bastion of equality and freedom, is still, up to this very day, divided racially, the blacks, the white, the latinos and chinkies. The UK is a immigratory mess, racial tensions are not uncommon. Australia, like the UK, do their best to suppress the reality of racism, but it boils over every so often.
There is no escape from the identity of race. We are all terribly, sometimes painfully aware of it. The best among us try their best, and often succeed, in being colour-blind; they know that this world is a colourful place, and often they identify with their own. But they don’t allow that reality to affect their decisions and temper their judgements of fairness.
The worst of us, give in to the differences, claim supremacy over them, and ignore the intrinsic good of human beings regardless of race, colour or creed.
I’m not racist.
Three words perhaps we all should speak aloud. It’s not a proclamation of innocence. It’s an admission of existence, and a reminder of our identity.