I grew up in a place where your skin colour is a factor.
I grew up in a place where people also excelled based on their merits, in spite of their skin colour. You just have to work much harder.
Confused? If you are a Malaysian, you should understand what I am talking about.
Don’t get me wrong, Malaysians are generally very civilised and courteous people. You don’t encounter people throwing insults around in public just because of your skin colour. We live in harmony.
Your skin colour is only a factor “on paper”. It is justified because it is in the constitution and it is legal. We learnt about it in history during school and so, we live with it. It can get a little frustrating at times, but most of the time we tolerate. Those who could tolerate no more rarely fight back. Mostly they choose to become indifferent and simply leave.
Many weeks ago, I met someone who is pleasant. But as soon as I learnt where he is from, “someone who is pleasant” became “someone who may appear to be pleasant”. Because of his colour, my guards went up and I decided not to give him a benefit of a doubt with regards to his character and ethics. I gently closed my doors on him and decided not to “take any risks”.
The worst part of it all was he saw right through me and told me I am a racist.
I can justify my actions all I want – statistics, observations, instincts, stereotypes. That it was only self-defense. I can even say that I grew up in an environment that taught me to remember that race is always a factor.
At the end of the day, I did judge him because of the colour of his skin.
I realise I can be a racist at heart and I feel very ashamed.