#blacklivesmatter, and what it means for me as a Singaporean


This is a rather long post, and a serious one at that for my first one. I did wonder if I should post this, because I definitely do not want to detract from the crucial conversation that is going on from other more important voices now. But there are things I want to say, and this is the best platform I can use.

I’ve often thought about my position being an international student here in America, an Asian female hailing from a very comfortable country, choosing to live in equally comfortable Boulder, CO, and pursuing a higher degree. I’ve thought hard about my privilege, not just being able to be here in America doing my PhD, but being Chinese Singaporean in Singapore, and sometimes I don’t know how to come to terms with that. Everyday I watch and see as people around me struggle to be recognized, and work harder than I ever have in order to even be seen as equals. While I don’t know how loud my voice will be in this conversation, I do know that unfortunately in current society it is seen to be more valuable than the scores of black people who have called repeatedly for such unjustified violence to stop. And as a current member of this community, I cannot be complicit in my silence anymore.

The news in the past couple of days about the deaths of black men like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have shaken me to the core, and coupled with the bombings in Baghdad, in Saudi Arabia, in Turkey during Ramadan and Eid – while I despair, I definitely do not hurt as much as the families who see their loved ones being taken away, nor will I be able to cry as hard as people who see their brothers and sisters, and fellow countrymen gunned down in this war of fear and political ideology. Perhaps war is an unfair word, because it implies at least two groups pitting themselves against each other, when in these cases, there is always one group who never asked for it.

Throughout this, I would like to think that we care, people who have the freedom to care about this, and who have the ability to make their voices heard. And this is my attempt to do so.

For my Singaporean Chinese friends who think that they are far removed from the events that are happening in America and the rest of the world, that the shootings in Orlando, in San Bernandino, in Baton Rouge, in St. Paul are all “American” things – you’re wrong. Racism, hate and xenophobia manifest in similar, ugly forms all around the world, and if anything these events that happen in America and around the world should teach us that Singaporeans can also fall and have fallen prey to the same kinds of fear about “foreign” and “different” people. If we start thinking that the jokes we make about people of other races and nationalities are just harmless jests, we continuously reinforce and reproduce Singaporean Chinese privilege, and one day that will all come to a point, when it suddenly becomes okay to discriminate and physically hurt people because “they’re all like that one what“.

So help educate the people around you, teach them to love and to tolerate, to recognize their privileged positions and not stay silent because it’s “not my daiji“. It is everyone’s business, and it’s time to admit to that. Maybe we have to allow ourselves to feel the pain that others deal with everyday, before we can truly have compassion and empathy.

Addendum: I wrote this hours before everything unfolded in Dallas, TX, and it just goes to underscore how things can go from chaotic to outright fucking crazy in a couple of hours. And while I do agree it’s not a black issue, not a white issue, but an American issue we’re dealing with here, I also strongly feel it’s an issue of humanity at large.