"Not Post-racial But Post-racist."

Blog Title: Not post-racial, but post-racist

Hi mums, it's Sita here.

This might be a late post, and before I even begin writing, I already know that it will be far from perfect.

This was a challenging post to write, but late is better than never and nothing is ever truly perfect.

#BlackLivesMatter

I, as a citizen of this planet Earth, decided to speak up on this matter and share my personal thoughts. Not because I am so well researched and personally affected (I am of colour, but not black) and I certainly don’t intend to tell you what to think, but because I think many people share the same thoughts as me and I want to tell them it’s OK.

black lives matter

Yesterday, I noticed many black posts on Instagram and social media. Without having to research, I already knew this was part of the #BlackLivesMatter (or #BLM) movement that is on the headlines of many medias in the world. I had also seen many people who are black and those who have black/mixed children post their concerns using #ICantBreathe. I can't even begin to imagine how they must feel, having to fear for their lives just because they have a different skin colour.

My immediate thoughts were that I needed to show my support. Then almost instantaneously, I held myself back and thought that I had no right to say anything without first educating myself on this issue. I then decided to do a bit more research into “racism”.

My experience on racism.

I didn’t know it when I was younger, but although not to the extremes of fearing for my life, racism has always been part of my life. Being of Chinese descent, we were always alienated in my birth country, Indonesia (a place I still call home). There are so many things we can talk about here and this is a very deep topic in itself, so I won't go into detail in this post (you can research about how the Chinese were treated in Indonesia). But in short, we were ‘othered’ and deprived of many opportunities. There were many legislation made on Chinese Indonesians too. Although it’s much better now, just a few decades ago people of Chinese descent (especially if they also carry a Chinese name) can only occupy a very small percentage (like 1%) of the spots available in schools and universities. Today, it’s still difficult for people of Chinese descent to hold any influential positions (i.e. in politics and mass media).
The children in my family were brought up to be unbelievably proud to be Chinese. We were taught that Chinese people work harder and smarter than anyone else and because of this, Chinese people are more likely to succeed. My family did a phenomenal job in giving me so much opportunities, including moving to Australia for better education and to widen my horizons.
I would like to be so proud of my Chinese heritage. And I very much am. However, as I get older and learn more about identity and racism, a feeling of guilt grew inside me. With every positive thing some of my elders said about being Chinese, they also said the opposite about the Indonesians. For some Chinese Indonesians, it was almost an offence to call them Indonesian. Because this means they are part of the lazy and less-smart. Of course, this is not true for all Indonesians and it’s certainly a part of racism.
So now, I can see that although Indonesians were racist of us Chinese Indonesians, we are not innocent either. It just so happens that Chinese Indonesians are the minority and I am one of them.

As I have said before, I am not an expert on the topic by any means. After attending highschool and completing two undergraduate degrees in a very multicultural country (Australia), the topic of racism is impossible to avoid. The more I researched, the more confused I got. I don't think I understand really what racism is exactly... I don't think I want us all to be the same. I am proud of who I am and the strengths that come with my cultural heritage. But I am also so happy to see the different strengths and wisdom and beauty that comes with other cultures too. Together, we are stronger.

 We are stronger together

I found it difficult to organise my thoughts and to figure out how to navigate this world as to not offend anyone. I want to do the right thing, but I also want to CELEBRATE, not hide, our cultural differences. I want everyone to get along and learn from one another, no matter the colour of our skin.

This Ted Talk helped me understand and organise my thoughts a little better:

 

I particularly love how he pointed out that the outcome we all want is not a world that is "post-racial", but rather "post-racist".

It is clear that the answer to ending this racism social construct is by educating our children.

How do we educate our children on the topic of racism?

The short answer is: to be honest with them. But of course, this is harder said than done. Children's questions are so innocent and can be very difficult to answer for adults as we are taught to brush them under the rug. The topic has almost become a "taboo" in many families.

Upon my research, I stumbled upon something I wasn’t aware of before. Black families in America have to give their children “The Talk”. I can't say I was totally surprised but I just never thought of this before. I am so privileged to have never had to fear for my life because of the colour of my skin. Watching an example of this totally broke my heart.

 

Having said that, I think it is necessary for all families to talk with each other and especially with their children on racism. Not just if you are part of a family of colour. “The Talk” may look very different depending on your culture, age, environment and circumstances. You might also do this more than once as the world around us change and as each family member grow.

Here are some more resources that may help in approaching the talk about racism with your children:

Stronger Together

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