Why should individuals of certain ethnic backgrounds be subject to discrimination, racism and oppression that violate their human rights and dignity, Mustafa K Anuar wonders.
A former Miss Universe Malaysia recently waded into a burning issue she apparently couldn’t grasp, ending up making herself look like someone living on a parallel planet.
More than that, Samantha Katie James stoked the anger of fellow Malaysians who are in support of the #BlackLivesMatter protests in the United States against the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
Her untoward remarks are unjust to Floyd and bound to hurt the feelings of his family, friends and supporters.
Floyd, 46, who screamed “I can’t breathe!” under the weight of a Minneapolis police officer’s knees, is indicative of the many decades of racism and discrimination that many African-Americans and other coloured minorities had and continue to endure.
In other words, it was a vicious and relentless “challenge”, to borrow James’ word, that has been thrust upon the black community to the detriment of their wellbeing and the American social fabric.
As in many multi-ethnic and multicultural societies, structural, institutional and individual racism has unfortunately become part of the lived experience for many Americans of colour, particularly African-Americans.
As a result, many blacks have suffered socioeconomic neglect and discrimination over the years simply because of the colour of their skin, a challenge made more vicious by the white supremacist ideology championed by the bigoted.
It is a challenge of hunger and poverty that you simply can’t be relaxed about. And in the current Covid-19 pandemic, the situation can be desperate. It just ain’t cool.
If anything, these vulnerable people deserve much-needed help from the authorities and other privileged groups in society so they can live with dignity and pride.
People of colour are to be deemed and treated as second-class citizens in the eyes of the white supremacists, which in some ways lends legitimacy and warped logic to the cruel and unjust treatment of the former.
Conversely, the supremacists believe that they are entitled to their supposedly inalienable rights and privileges over those of other ethnic communities.
It is worth flipping through the pages of such novels as Roots: The Saga of an American Family, written by Alex Haley, about his family history that goes back to the days of slavery. His ancestors were subject to slavery, subjugation, humiliation and racism in a land where all of its inhabitants are to be eventually treated equally in the modern world.
To be sure, people don’t get to choose who they are. As humans, we are fated to be born Brazilian, Indian, Chinese, Malay, Kadazan, Iban, Eurasian, African-American or other ethnicities.
While ethnic identities have their social and political significance, they should not cloud the fact that we are all part of humanity who deserve equality, freedom, justice, security and happiness.
Besides, we are God’s creation and are meant to celebrate our diversity and differences.
The beef here is, why should individuals of certain ethnic backgrounds be subject to discrimination, racism and oppression that violate their human rights and dignity?
As citizens of a democracy, people rightly expect to be treated equally, justly and in a dignified manner. That’s a challenge that is worth taking up.
One does not become superior simply by oppressing another.