Category: Op-Ed

It’s the Simple Things We Forget

By Mr. Christopher Selvaraj from the KS Department
Cover photo by Differantly, a Paris/Berlin-based artist duo

These can be challenging times to think through the state of race relations in Singapore. Growing sensitivities to micro-aggressions and unconscious biases, racial privilege and cultural appropriation, reductive representations and linguistic assault, among other things, have made for a brew of simmering discontent that periodically spills out into our collective consciousness. These are complicated times – and it can seem simpler to sit and watch the waters swell.

So it was with great interest that I read Is Appreciation Enough?” by Phang Yeu Yeou and Loh Lin, and On Racism and Chinese Privilege” by Soh Ying Qi, a couplet of two recent thoughtful commentaries that set out to carefully consider racial harmony and race relations in Singapore. Both pieces reflect authors keen and willing to lay out the depth, complexity, and nuance of race relations. Both pieces reflect authors grappling with an important question: Are we doing enough to weave solidarity and community from the threads of diversity in which we find ourselves entangled? In both pieces, the answer to this question is “no”.

Continue reading “It’s the Simple Things We Forget”

What’s in a Home?

By Sarah Chen (19S03C)

Without fail, every 9th of August brings with it a sudden burst of patriotism in Singaporeans, me included. It’s both heartwarming and odd — something that can only be witnessed on this one day. As suddenly as this pride arrives, it leaves, and I am left questioning how genuine all this patriotism really is.

A while back, I watched a film called Ladybird. The protagonist of the film in question was a girl in high school, on the cusp of young adulthood, dreaming of leaving her hometown for greater places. As she spent the majority of the film cursing every single aspect of her hometown, I saw in her not just myself, but many other Singaporean teenagers.

Continue reading “What’s in a Home?”

Proceed at Your Own Discretion: To Say or Not to Say

By Asfar Alim (18S03J)

To say or not to say? That is the question. Do I risk contributing my idea for a project, even though it could get shot down immediately? Should I tell my good friend that their questionable decisions (such as playing Dota for 8 hours straight) may not be a good idea? Or perhaps, there’s the fear of asking a question on a sensitive topic. These are just a few examples of the situations that we may have encountered where we would have to decide whether we should be honest and share our thoughts or keep quiet. In these scenarios, we meet different types of people who apply different approaches.

Continue reading “Proceed at Your Own Discretion: To Say or Not to Say”

On Racism and Chinese Privilege

By Soh Ying Qi (18A01C)

It’s safe to say that this is not a safe topic.

(The preceding sentence, ironically, may be the only one in this article that’s truly uncontroversial.)

It’s nebulous and complicated and resistant to simplification. It’s hard to discuss sensitively, and even harder to discuss meaningfully. Basically: the odds were stacked against it from the beginning.

So this article won’t change the world. It might not even change your mind. But at the very least, it’ll probably change the way you view “race”, for better or for worse.

Continue reading “On Racism and Chinese Privilege”

Is Appreciation Enough?

By Phang Yeu Yeou (19A01A) and Loh Lin (19A01D)

Wait. Before you continue scrolling, we know. We know that race as a topic has already been discussed to death, in conversations and lectures and forums alike. Nonetheless, the shoulds and shouldn’ts of tackling such discourse continue to confound us, even as we turn away from it, thinking: What more is there to discuss that hasn’t already been said?

After all, 54 years on from the racial riots that left an indelible footprint in our history — in bloodshed and in policy — racism in Singapore seems by and large a thing of the past. Indeed, today people of all races coexist peaceably in classrooms, offices, and shared public spaces. Long-term governmental policies and a consistent multicultural narrative have gone a long way towards easing the hostilities and divisiveness that once defined race relations. Yet, when we reduce acts of racism to just these overt indicators, we risk turning a blind eye to the more implicit tensions that continue to underscore our interactions.

Continue reading “Is Appreciation Enough?”