One of my old webcomics, Fuzzy Animal Farm. The character, Spongebrain Tapered Mat, is a stereotype of Malay people, as well as the tapered-jeans wearing punks. My Malay friends loved the character and didn't mind it (only probably because they are my friends and they understood I meant no harm), but it didn't go down well on others (read the comments). I have discontinued the comics ever since, one of the reasons being that the comments did affect me in a way and made me thought through "my actions".
My current job requires me to assist the graduands of the school to collect their graduation gowns, so I meet plenty of 20 or 21 year olds, and the occasional matured ones around my age. Pretty fun job, with Charis (who's working with me as well) dropping by my workstation half the time during not-so-busy hours and we'll laugh over dramatic prairie dog & Charlie the Unicorn.
Last week there was a group of boys with a mix of ethnicity: Chinese, Malay, Indian. True life Poster Boys of Racial Harmony. MCYS will love them for their next campaign. They reminded me of the people I hung out with during my reckless school days. I liked these boys already.
The token Malay boy of the group needed to have his form reprinted. He took quite awhile at the computer station: not really his fault, because our online booking system isn't the most user-friendly. Boys being boys, being all boisterous, were pestering their Malay friend, saying all the Why so slow! and Faster lah. When I assisted the boy, the Indian boy of the group turned to me and said the following:
"You'll have to forgive him, he's Malay, he's abit slow."
And the entire gang, short of the Malay boy, all broke into raucous laughter. For quite a while they laughed (possibly half a minute), while their Malay friend simply smiled widely, with teeth and all. Not a flinch of anger on him, only because he probably heard this one a million times. And yes, I laughed as well.
Yes, it's only a joke. Malays are slow. A racial stereotype, a broad generalization of the group of people, that's how stereotype works. Of course that's not necessarily true, slow and stupid people exists everywhere. The thing is, the boys were comfortable enough with each other to be able to crack jokes like that, probably already utilized a whole bank of such jokes that could be found at TalkingCock.com. If you noticed, TalkingCock has categorized their jokes under "races", targeted at the major races of our country, looking like an attempt to balance things out", like a let's make fun of Everybody so no one takes us seriously enough to get offended thing.
But soon, the boys, when they graduate, go through National Service, and then progress to the working world, will learn along the way that this comfort level they have with each other should only exist between themselves, and doesn't go beyond that. Also, they have to remember that there are different type of friends: The ones who are going to tell you that you are right even when you are wrong, in order to placate you, and the ones who will tell you that you suck, when you really sucked, only because they genuinely want to help you.
Like myself, I've learned along the way that there are some issues & opinions which are bound to be sensitive, which you simply don't say to other people. You'll just learn when to keep your mouth shut up.Most of the time,it could be some stuff which I've accidentally blurted out without going through a brain process called "censoring".
You could be a Social Science student who went through ethnic studies with well-researched documents backing the stereotype. You could have heard it from your parents' mouth, them complaining about growing up with the other race. You could also be working in HR and sometimes given the "difficult task" of hiring someone of a "difficult race". Yes, must learn when to shaddup as well.
Yes, we have American entertainment shows like Family Guy or Harold & Kumar that thrives on racial stereotypes to squeeze some laughs out of you, but just because it makes you laugh and gain acceptance from many doesn't make it right.
Racial tolerance is tricky, and it's not only about doing house visits to your friends' house during Chinese New Year, or attending your Malay colleague's daughter's wedding. It's also not only about enjoying your Nasi Gorengs or Thosais or Satays. Your sensibility will tell you that it's way more than that. Along the way, you'll have major misconceptions of what you know about other people's religion & practices. Some of my friends actually bothered to explain to me of where I've gone wrong in terms of what I know, which is pretty generous of them. For that, I thank them.
Perhaps that was why FragrancePrince , just like aplenty of other Singaporeans who only hung out with people of their own ethnicity, said what he said. He didn't have the opportunity to make the mistakes I've made, and have friends from other backgrounds & religion to tell him No, that's not such a nice thing to say. Just keep this one to yourself or among us, okay?
But aiyoh, Sexy Fragrance Prince, why did you said what you said? Why did you put up a challenge like that?
Well, I don't know how you going to defend yourself, now that you are probably going to get charged for sedition. Poor guy: it's not fair that the vicious blogosphere are reading through your past blog entries (oh no, is that another entry, calling an indian man "the black thing"?), scrutinizing every details to attack you, calling you a horseface & a himbo. If we're trying to be objective here, how you look and your wish to get ass implants has nothing to do with your racist post. But sadly, we all know that objectivity doesn't really exist in the real world lah, brudder.