Colours. When we were brought into the world, the very first thing that greeted us were colours. The wonderful and breath-taking colours. For the majority of us, colours were the first thing that taught us how to differentiate objects and I can’t help but feel that the reason why mankind was exposed to colours in the first place is to feel awe at the vast creations that we see on Earth. The blue skies, the green leaves as they turn reddish in autumn, even the slight blush on a lover’s face, all were made for us to feel love. That’s right. Colours are one of the languages of love and yet, we chose for it to represent hatred and discrimination.
Dated back to hundreds of years ago, people were segregated according to the colour of their skin. The lighter coloured was blessed with privileges and a life of their own while the darker tone was stripped off their freedom and treated no better than livestock. When the German settlers first invaded Africa in the late 1800’s, German researchers only treated the natives as merely test subjects and even published a medical paper on the bodies and skeletons of Africans, robbing their graves and using skull measurements to identify them as Untermenschen – subhumans. Millions were killed on their so-called mission to ‘cleanse the land’ and the massacre continued until a man named Nelson Mandela stepped up to defend the lives of his people. On April 20, 1964, Nelson Mandela spoke up at the Rivonia trial:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society, in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Today, it is shocking to see that the hundreds of years of sacrifice and bloodshed still could not change the perspective of white people. In a day of modern society and technology, the minds of a few are still stuck on the mindset of black peoples’ lives remaining inferior and that they do not see them as equal human beings. News are flooding with riots happening in the United States, oppressed citizens are making their voices heard responding to police brutality. On social media, the case of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died while being pinned on the ground with a knee on his neck by local police. He was arrested for forgery and sentenced to death. There were four officers present during the arrest and yet, a single individual who complied with the arrest was violently murdered all because he was black. Another tragic case took place in the state of Ohio in November 22, 2014, where a 12-year-old boy was shot in the torso for handling a toy gun. Seemingly, the thought of authority only defending the lives of ‘white people’ is unacceptable in modern day society.
Living as a Malay in Malaysia, I have not been exposed to any kind of discrimination or oppression acted against me as Malays are deemed to be privileged in this country. However, although we are blessed with peace and harmony amidst our multiracial community, it is still evident that at heart, most of us are still racists. Immigrants are treated differently no matter where they go, be it a grocery store or a public park, malicious eyes follow them while they mean no harm. The public preach that racism is unacceptable and shall forever be condemned while at the same time refusing to interact in the same space as black people. It is time we fix this social virus and the first step comes from education. Primary school education needs to be enforced with the fight against racial pride i.e. a curriculum to teach students that no race is superior than the other. Although it is impossible in the short run to abolish the privileges received by bumiputera, by changing the way we think, we can change the way we act.
Racism is such a hateful word. Providing different treatment according to the colour of your skin, why would we comply to such acts? People are created with different colours to demonstrate the beauty of diverse cultures and combining them to reach another level of advancement. Instead, our minds are brainwashed with the idea that races are created only for their own and not for others. It is time we put a stop to this crude way of thinking and provide a change to this world. Remember, small gestures when combined will create a great impact for social empowerment.
The reality of colours is a cruel one for the eyes but the story is far from ending, because even reality can be changed with love.
Amir Haziq Mohd Zulkurnain
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