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Sociology Essay: Race & Ethnicity Essay

Racism- the act of discriminating others based on race; has existed throughout human history and will continue to exist as long as people subjectively see races as real categories of people. Thus I would like to talk about the issue of racism in Singapore.

Singapore is renowned for its multi-racial society. People around the world are amazed at how our different races have been able to coexist and live together in harmony. But there is more than meets the eye. Though there aren’t outwardly expressions of displeasure amongst the different races, Singaporeans do practice racial biasness, more often than not without themselves even realising it. For this topic, I would like to talk about the news of an assistant director that was fired for her racist comments.

According to the article, NTUC assistant director, Amy Cheong, was sacked after she posted offensive comments online. She put up a public status on her personal Facebook timeline, complaining about a Malay wedding that was being held at a void deck near her home. In her status, she related Malay weddings to high divorce rates, and asked how society could “allow people to get married for 50 bucks”, peppering with vulgarities. She also allegedly wrote, “Void deck weddings should be banned. If you can’t afford a proper wedding then you shouldn’t be getting married.” Cheong’s Facebook account has since been deactivated, and she has apologised publicly. However, her post has sparked a furious backlash from the citizens.

The reason for Amy Cheong posting the racist comments on her Facebook is due to her prejudice toward the Malays. According to the Symbolic Interactionist Perspective, Prejudice is a product of labelling and perception. These labels create selective perception of others, and overpower with emotion while blocking out rational thoughts. Consequently, self-fulfilling stereotypes are created. From this, “she related Malay weddings to high divorce rates, and asked how society could allow people to get married for 50 bucks” and “Void deck weddings should be banned. If you can’t afford a proper wedding then you shouldn’t be getting married”, Amy Cheong labels the Malays as lowly and that their weddings are substandard. Hence, we could tell that she is prejudiced towards the Malays.

Prejudice and Discrimination tend to come together. The presence of one often signals the existence of the other. For instance, complaints like “dirty, smelly” Bangladeshis are frequently heard from Singaporeans who use public transport. The influx of foreign workers to Singapore may have resulted in strong sentiment by the locals against the workers, subsequently resulting in discrimination towards these workers by the locals.

The Functionalist view states that prejudice serves a function by creating in-group solidarity. It also states that prejudice creates a common enemy and serves to define discriminated groups as dysfunctional. In this case, Singaporeans, in general, form an in-group unity by ostracising the Bangladeshis and regarding them as dysfunctional because they are “dirty” and “smelly”. Therefore, the Functionalist view shows how a racial group is discriminated by others.

References:

Tan, J. (2012). NTUC fires assistant director for racist comments. Retrieved January 20, 2012, from http://sg.news.yahoo.com/ntuc-assistant-director-says-sorry-for-racist-post.html

Seah, C.N. (2005). Racism lives on in Singapore. Retrieved January 20, 2012, from http://www.littlespeck.com/content/people/CTrendsPeople-051003.htm


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