I Am Malaysian

“I am not ___. I am Malaysian.”

You’ve heard it. I’m pretty sure you’ve even said it. This statement is what people like to call “colour-blindness”.

Colour-blindness is basically just sweeping racism under the rug in hopes that it will one day go away. It doesn’t fix or solve racism, it just fuels it.

In Malaysia, we’ve established a term called “1Malaysia” which basically means that we come from different racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds yet we are one nation. I mean, duh. It’s nice and all to know that we want to be one nation, not letting our different racial background divide us, yada yada. 

Little do we know, the term 1Malaysia on its own is problematic.

By addressing to the world that you are not of a race but you are Malaysian, you are invalidating your identity.

Your race makes up who you are — the language you speak, the traditions you follow. Your ancestors didn’t cross the Pacific Ocean for you to forget your history, culture and beliefs!

We are one nation, but do we really put aside each other’s differences to be one nation? Are we really “one nation” when certain races get certain privileges when others don’t?

Growing up in a mixed parentage household, I’ve always been taught to count my blessings and be appreciative of my bumi privilege.

A privilege most of my non-bumi friends do not have.

For those of you who are unaware of what bumi/non-bumi is, in Malaysia we use the term bumiputera to refer to the “majority” ethnic group. In this case – Malays, Ibans, Dayaks, Kadazans, Orang Asli, etc.

When people started using the term 1Malaysia to address themselves, I thought it was ridiculous. How can we be one Malaysia if we do not have the same benefits?

Not only do we blindly accept this colour-blindness, we use it so as to not sound racist as we accept and use our privilege.

The statement “1Malaysia” is problematic because we live in a country where we have different races and we do not want to have racism among us yet we tell people we are “one” when we’re not living entirely equally.

No matter what, we’re still divided.

You tell me I’m Malaysian, and I should stick to that yet you ask me to tick my race on forms and put my race on my MyKad.

We should embrace our race, culture, traditions, language and beliefs.

If there is a problem, we should discuss it. I mean if we can’t discuss it then how will we ever solve it? By telling people their race does not matter when in fact it actually does?

I love my Malaysia. I love being Malaysian.

However, I do acknowledge the fact that I am Malay and I have certain benefits that my other friends don’t.

That’s not fair.

Instead of uniting the country under false pretences, we should embrace every racial identity and ensure that there are equal opportunities for all.

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