Stop race-splaining, Malaysians

OCT 13 — As sure as the sun rises in the east, whenever Malaysian Indians bemoan the use of that word that starts with “k”, some non-Indian will go, “Well, actually, it’s not derogatory”.

My first question is: who made you an expert in the history of the word?

Second, who are you to tell an entire ethnicity how they should feel, especially when you are not one of them?

When that badminton player was called that word, she knew it was a slur.

The people who were enraged after seeing it used on Facebook also knew it was a slur.

The person who said it knew very well it was a slur, which was precisely the reason said person used it.

It’s not even just the k-word. Malaysians casually use the names of Orang Asli tribes as insults and it doesn’t take a historian to know the practice’s origins are bigoted.

No one gets to tell someone to not be offended when they encounter something offensive.

Malaysian flags are pictured in Putrajaya August 12, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Malaysian flags are pictured in Putrajaya August 12, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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Yet Malaysians, politicians and non-politicians, seem to delight in this constant gaslighting, this frequent refrain of “Don’t be so sensitive-lah.”

If we truly want to believe in a Keluarga Malaysia concept then why isn’t there a zero tolerance for these slurs?

A normal person would not find it acceptable for someone in their family to be the target of racist slurs, thus in that vein, no Malaysian should be tolerant of such insults towards other Malaysians.

It’s really that simple; do not be hurtful if you know that person is hurt, and especially if that person tells you in no uncertain terms, those words hurt their feelings.

Why is it easier to convince some Malaysians to show righteous indignation over Singapore’s street food getting called better than ours than to get them to understand they don’t get to choose how people react to their insensitivity?

We can’t keep saying, “Last time people said it, it wasn’t a big deal.”

What is important is now. Now is the time to embrace diversity, inclusiveness and acceptance over mere tolerance.

We know we can be better so let’s stop excusing racism in whatever form, casual, systemic, or overt. 

Do better, Malaysians.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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