Because I apparently cannot go without a disclaimer, I wish to make clear that what I said in the earlier post is merely opposition to the idea of doing away with race entirely. On the flip side of the coin, it is clear that differences between races in Malaysia have been a wedge between race relations.
These differences however, are played up by specific people, for specific reasons. There is no good reason why Chinese are apparently controlling the economy and why the Malays apparently control the politics and why everyone else are just SOL. That's how power plays itself out, how people retain power and refuse to let go of it, even though it is obviously detrimental to whole swaths of the population. There is no goddamn reason why I should have to note what my race on any sort of application in Malaysia - it's irrelevant for most administrative reasons.
Except, of course, for that strange affirmative action policy in place which insists that Malays need to make a specific percentage of the top-most tiers. (Which is strangely skewed only for businesses, since political administrations are under no strain to ensure the same is done for other races.)
But AGAIN! That policy is only in place because of some morons in power who think it's a terrible, terrible tragedy if Malays were to lose a hegemonic position within our great country because - because - well, because Malaysia belongs to the Malays first, right? Or something so completely outdated like that.
So, just because I say that doing away with the concept of race is bad idea doesn't mean I don't recognize that race is played up for horrible fucked up reasons in Malaysia that is truly screwing us all over.
Another issue that I wish to touch on (and this is totally a sucky segue but there was no other way to discuss it short of another post) is that it made me think about how much emphasis some of us place on individuality, whereas others will place emphasis on communalism.
When I lived in Malaysia, I was an ornery, ornery little rebel, and my maternal grandmother once called me "outlandish", although the term she used is more coded for "white". I didn't fit in. I was either too confrontational, or too loud, or too different. In a way, I both celebrated and resented my difference. But I felt that just being myself drove others away.
It was a relief to me to come to Canada and find that my difference did not drive wedges between myself and others the same way it did in Malaysia. I made friends. I grew up, grew apart, grew close with others of similar interests. Even now, when I say I seek out people like me, I'm often referring to people of a similar ideology, educational background (MOAR ENGRISH MAJUHRS!).
But you know, sometimes, I'll come across a fellow Asian, and I won't lie, I, too, like asking the question, where are you from?
Recently, on the bus, I saw a woman who looked like a Malay - face, tudung, and her language, accent, slang. She was talking on her cellphone for the entire duration of her time on the bus, but I listened with hunger to those words I so rarely hear.
Is it because I am in a space where I don't have family and/or community members breathing down my neck that I crave the sense of community? Of having people to be there for me?
Is it because I've so much time as an individual, that not, finally comfortable with who I am, am ready to deal with the random shit that inevitably gets flung around within community spaces by people de-sensitized to each other?
Who knows. All I know is that for all the talk about individual differences, there are still many of us who are drawn to other people, people like us, whether commonalities of interest, race, heritage, nationality, culture, and I know this isn't a bad thing.