Removing Race from Racism
It was 1995 and Gan was seven years old. He was at home in Marsiling with his baby brother who started having breathing problems. Their panic-stricken mother Madam Koh Ah Luan decided to rush the child to the hospital and asked Gan to hail a taxi. They saw a Malay couple board a taxi nearby and though they pleaded to be allowed to take the taxi first, the couple ignored them. By the time they arrived at the hospital, the child was pronounced dead.
First, the accused may have generalized the incident that it was because of the Malay couple that his brother died. Even if he was angry at the people who did not give up the cab, to make callous comments against the race of those people is to put it simply, wrong. But the human mind always tends to oversimplify the situation. It tends to attribute human behavior to one main trait of the person in question.
This leads me to the second and more important point. Why is it that when the accused saw this couple not giving way to his mother, the first identity that he gave the couple was based on their race? He could have given the couple any other identity. For instance, if the couple were wearing a red shirt, then he could have directed his anger against all people who wear red shirts. But because of the way Singapore society is managed, the first identity we tend to give people is based on their race. Of course, identifying people by their race is not written in stone. Change that, and we could do away with a lot of people whom we call racists today.
Is this so hard to do? No! The next time you use race as an adjective, i.e. use terms like [insert race] man/woman, think twice about whether the substance of what you are trying to say has a causal link with race at all. So the next time a car cuts into your lane, think twice before blurting .... ‘bloody hell, that [insert race] driver never signal and cut into my lane’.
Removing race is a first step towards eradicating racism.