Earlier today at around 1.30pm, I boarded bus 945 headed towards Bukit Batok Interchange. I queued just like everyone else to board the bus. Paid my fare just like everyone else. The bus was not crowded but still had a fair amount of people with a decent amount of empty seats.
After paying my fare I proceded towards the back of the bus where I took a seat which was on the left of the aisle. A man seated on the right of the aisle then proceded to shout at me, and I quote, “You are Black, go sit infront!”
At first I was taken aback, but I looked at him and said “I have paid my fare just like everyone else and I can choose to sit anywhere I like. What does this have to do with my skin colour?” To which he replied, “You are Black and I am not. I am Brown, so you go sit infront!” I again refused and remained at the same seat. This man is in his late 30s or early 40s and is balding with a missing front tooth and has a tan complexion.
My refusal agitated him and he then went on to point at me with aggressive gestures and retorted “I am from ISRAEL; is this how you speak to an ISRAELI?!” Not wanting to further aggravate the situation I looked him dead-straight in eyes and said “So what if you’re an Israeli? I’m a Singaporean but just because you are an Israeli does that automatically give you the right to be a racist?” To this he further went on to repeat his first statement many, many times, which was of me being a darker complexion and therefore should not sit near him throughout the bus journey to Bukit Batok Interchange.
There were quite a few people seated around us, amongst which none an Indian, and they watched him belittle and threaten me without any intervention. As the bus entered the interchange, I went to speak with the Bus Captain as I wanted to make a complain. He did not even bother to hear me out nor stop the bus at anytime when this man was screaming at me in public but he just told me to go to the service counter. I thanked him and found the service counter.
I was strong throughout the entire bus ride but when the lady at the helpdesk asked me to recall and elaborate what had happened on the bus, I just broke down. It was utterly humiliating for me to explain myself and at the same time wonder how it is possible that being a female, dark complexioned Indian and a minority race in Singapore, be still subject to RACISM in 2016. She then got her colleague who immediately took an official report and told me that the respective officials will be in touch soon. They also strongly suggested that I make a police report which I agreed and went on to lodge an official complaint.
I am not writing this post to gain sympathy or to instigate against people of any particular citizenship/racial/ethic group. Nor is this a rant written out of boredom or an attempt to tarnish the image of any public service company. What I do want people who took the time to read this, is to know that racism is REAL in Singapore. Today’s incident just created a shift within me and I felt that I do not need to tolerate such insensitivity from anyone. I may never know what comes out of making a report and lodging a complaint. But I do know that racism is NOT the way forward.
To the mother who was seated with her child just opposite me, watched the whole incident and silenced her child abruptly when he tugged on your arm to highlight that the man was getting agitated and started making gestures at me, I hope you realise what you are subconsciously teaching your child. That it is okay for someone of a different ethicity and skin colour to be verbally assaulted? And the NS guy seated just opposite the man who chose to ignore the whole situation and shut his eyes, oblivious the entire time the man was screaming at me. I hope you had a good power nap. Is this what national service is instilling in our young men now?
Conclusively, I am not asking anyone to be a so called “hero” and run to help anyone who is in distress. We all have our reasons as to why we choose to stay silent. But at times like these, if we could speak up and stand up for one another, Singapore would be a much better place to live in.
I am a woman, an Indian and above all, a Singaporean. This is my home and I refuse to be marginalised by the colour of my skin. I am dark by Asian standards and I pretty damn proud of it. Today I have been discriminated against due to the colour of my skin. Yesterday it was someone else, tomorrow it will be someone new. Young or old, slim or plump, fair or dark, racism has NO EXCUSE.
So for those of you who are still on the fence regarding the issue of racism existing, you best believe now that it still does, even in modern day 2016 Singapore.