Importance of multiracialism, mutual understanding and cohesion
We value our multiracial and multicultural society. We feel that it is important to reflect on race in our local context. Some feel that racial discourse from other countries cannot be imported wholesale. Some of us have experienced or witnessed racial discrimination in daily interactions, such as landlords or employers preferring a certain race. We hope that more of us can better understand what it feels like to face discrimination or racism.
Each of us should understand issues about race and religion better. We should step out of our comfort zones to meet with people of different backgrounds, races, and religions. As individuals, we can do more to tackle racist behaviours in society such as by speaking up against racist comments, starting with the people around us.
We hope for more social mixing to foster greater racial and religious cohesion, especially for our children and future generations. Some of us reminisced that there seemed to be more opportunities in the past for people of different races and religions to mingle, such as in schools and neighbourhoods. While many feel that race is important to their identity, we should be united as Singapore and Singaporeans. Existing race-related initiatives or policies need to be reviewed continually. We hope for more partnership opportunities with community leaders and government agencies in these areas.
Race and religion in our education system
We hope that education about the complexities of race and religion can start from young. Our understanding of racial harmony should go beyond a basic appreciation of other cultures’ cuisines and artistic heritage. For example, we could have a Racial Harmony Month, or equip parents and teachers with resources to help guide and facilitate discussions on more sensitive issues revolving around race, religion, and cultural beliefs in Singapore’s context. Some of us feel that our youth should be taught to think critically, and be better equipped to talk about sensitive topics.
Constructive dialogue on race and religion
As a society, we need to be able to engage, listen, and reason with facts when discussing sensitive issues like race and religion. We hope to have more inclusive and safe spaces for people to discuss such issues, and enable those who feel marginalised to speak up about their personal experiences. Without these platforms for discussion, we worry that people may turn to venting online anonymously. Some of us acknowledge that younger people tend to speak up more on race and religion issues, while others may be less comfortable discussing such issues. We need to find ways for different groups to have meaningful dialogue with each other. We hope that conversations on sensitive issues will be kind and compassionate.
We feel strongly that such dialogues and conversations build mutual understanding between different races and religions. We think that the government could facilitate this process, but should not try to shape the conversation. We also hope that these conversations will lead to tangible action and change.