Thursday, December 29, 2016

Skin

Kamu Melayu! Jangan lupa. Kulit putih, tapi mata Melayu.

You are Chinese. Do not forget.

Hanyut. The Kid from the Big Apple. Both films are Malaysian made. Both featuring young girls; an adolescent and a child respectively.

Lupa? What is it in their experience to remember? There's a quote from a book on how nations are like an individual, with its childhood, adolescence and maturity (if it manages to reach to that point) – more specifically, it develops as if an individual, remembering trauma and big events, potent enough to live after the deaths of the generation that experienced it. Policies, rhetoric, worldviews are the driven from that very event in the coming decades, and the baton passed onto the next generation and the next. The Holocaust. Slavery. May 13. 

Like the people of a community are simply cells in a cycle of birth and death, but the body and mind remains.

What does being Melayu mean? What does being Chinese mean? Even more so in the context of my country in how it puts the thoughts and ideas that "makes" a person second to the colour of your skin. Ignoring that there isn't any skill to the latter, apart from the timing of one's conception at the copulation of their parents.

Thought processes;

1) Would the same discomfort appear if it said the same for aborigines or black people? The whole spiel about not forgetting your heritage, your roots?

2) Is that discomfort stemming from a personal preference, or that there are other aspects in play (power play, ethnic superiority) of which this combination becomes less acceptable? Eg, remembering Black history to counter a mainstream narrative/prejudice versus one that grants people uncontested loyalty to their race? Or was the example similar in "presenting" people a sense of pride? Belonging? Do you, by the virtue of your birth, deserving of an unearned "pride"? Or was it necessary to survive in the face of other prejudices?

3) Does my distaste for this a justified opinion or is it a good idea to have a default, base identity as a foundation to build upon, lest, we get lost in a vastness? 

4) On Hanyut, is it a reaction to the superiority of Whites during that time, in that dignity and worth isn't a sole ownership of white people? 

5) On The Kid from the Big Apple, is it that there is a longing of a formerly grand civilisation as people move out of China, forming the Chinese diaspora of the present? In the initial strangeness of a new land, new customs, one seeks the familiar, an anchor of an identity... for their sanity, to rid loneliness in order to survive? But two or three generations down the line, this persists, even as partial assimilation happens.

6) In one of the scenes in The Kid from the Big Apple, her grandfather was upset that she didn't seem to know Mandarin. Though he did not punish her for it, he was aghast that a Chinese girl born and bred in NY, could not speak her mother's tongue. When watching, I argued with myself; why is it so important? Okay, perhaps, a language possesses a worldview, the core of communication. It makes it easier to communicate not only in doing things, but in concepts and ideas and behaviour. Would it function as a potent challenge to dominant worldviews, that there isn't only one POV of the world? But that argument is less for that girl who is seemingly not given a choice to what worldview she'd like to adhere to, but glued together to a pre-chosen one on the basis of her skin. 

7) The problem is that skin colour determines what you should think, and not what one as an individual think of, weighed the pros/cons and decide to believe in.

(I'm aware that there are a number of intermixing topics in the questions above, leaking into other things; a muddled process that might have answered itself? Or not.)