As Bella put wonderfully, when there is diversity, we need to learn to go beyond tolerance and move towards wholeheartedly accepting the differences between us.
As youth, we are in the position to reshape the culture of acceptance in our current Singaporean society. The idea of tolerance plays a part in helping us progress forwards for a more inclusive society as we will face setbacks in our journey. As young people who can demonstrate the passion for change, and motivate others around us, we are able to overcome these setbacks if we show how we accept others for who they are; for how unique and beautiful each individual representative of their race is.
The possibilities are endless – can we mould the attitudes most Singaporeans have into one that is more wholly appreciative of each other’s differences borne by diversity? How plausible is it to imbue a sense of community that holds true and strong, across all racial communities in Singapore?
Bella’s hopes for people her age group and beyond to achieve deep-rooted genuinity when embracing others is heart-warming, because it sheds light on the fact that there are young people who want to become or see others active in the journey to truly embrace diversity among the races. There are all sorts of cultures that converge in our little red dot, with rich heritage and unique practice which we can all learn from despite our age, despite our race, and regardless of who we are as individual Singaporeans. However, as young people, we can take the reigns and enable Singapore to progress with peace and harmony established between our main racial communities, and appreciation fostered for each and every one of us who are wonderfully different.
Our main takeaway from the conversation we had with Bella is that we should go beyond stating that we are keen to welcome people of different races into our lives. Once we are aware of moments of discrimination, we can go beyond acknowledging it but voice out regarding it, and brainstorm with others on how to move past these prejudiced attitudes.
PSA: Discrimination is an action(s) that occurs because one holds the attitude of prejudice.
There are initiatives such as YOUTH CONVERSATIONS which young people can partake in. Model United Nations Conferences such as One People SG MUN also enable youth to come together and discourse on issues pertaining to preservation of heritage, or marginalization on our island.
Moreover, in schools, there are programmes that engage students from every level and background. For example, Racial Harmony Day and International Friendship Day. Often times, these programmes and slew of activities can be taken for granted as ‘just another school event’. To accelerate the process of closing the constructs that divide different races in the form of negative misconceptions and perceptions, it is important to try our best to appreciate the message that is conveyed behind these school events.
Why? Because schools are places where people of several races congregate together. While we’re together as one school, one student population, it would be an undeniably good chance to practice appreciating the diversity that each one of us holds.
This is so that our individual effort of speaking out against such moments can inspire and enable others to do the same, and builds towards the creation of a more comfortable environment for people put in disadvantaged situations where they are misjudged and hurt because of their race.
Bella, thank you for talking to us within the construction.
Text & Concept: Athena Tan
Photography: Trevor Wee