Deep in our hearts is a social animal. This animal wants to be part of a tribe, to bond, to feel wanted. This tribe is very protective of its “kind”. And race (or nationality) are identifiable characteristics of this tribe.
Racism is wrong, but it is also very human and we try to keep it under control. It is as human as greed, lust, covetousness, anger and hate.
This is why we need to speak up and shut each other up when we hear each other telling an unsolicited racist joke. We need to remind each other to be patient when we encounter habits contrary to ours. It is not easy – but like two joggers egging each other on a long run, it is good for the health of this nation.
It doesn’t stop there. A social immune system also calls for integration programs which the Government can certainly put into place when building policy for foreigners. Today, the HDB has set up foreigner rental quotas to prevent enclaves from forming. This and other outreach programs would be very helpful in nudging integration the right way.
Broadly speaking, I don’t observe a worrying portion of Singaporeans showing racist behaviour brazenly in real life. But the internet is a different animal altogether.
On the internet is a fair amount of lose racist talk. It is anybody’s intelligent guess what the motivation for these comments are: some mischief, some maybe from boredom. Many just don’t think before speaking.
Sooner or later, there will be laws made to police vulgar comments that could unsettle racial harmony. However, regardless of these measures, Singaporeans have the social responsibility to keep each other in check.
We’ve been brought up on a diet of “mind your own business”, but as society matures, we actually do need to mind each others business.
I had great fun sharing a few words with VoicesToday last night, and whatever I didn’t get to say is all shared in this article 🙂
(i’m on 43:30 😛 )