Home Feature Why Are People So Racist?

Why Are People So Racist?

by Natasha Christopher

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

This iconic speech impacted not only thousands of people that were at the March on Washington in August 28th, 1963 but it continues to breathe into people’s mind and hearts till today. The fight to eliminate racism is still very much alive now and it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to overcome the storms of racial slurs and mistreatment from their surroundings. At times it comes in a more subtle and some straightforward manner.

I can’t help but wonder where did the spirit of unity went?  Whatever happened to accepting an individual without discrimination? After all, our blood is still the same red colour. It’s the same saying that goes for no matter how rich or poor you are, you’ll still end up six feet under. May not come across well in terms of racism but let me show you some of the examples of the profound situation we have in the world.


Recently, renowned football star and World Cup player for Germany, Mesut Ozil – who is a German-Turkish descent-  announced in a statement that he is leaving the Germany football team because of racism. It all started when he met and was photographed with the current Turkish President, President Erdogan in London for a charity event. Ever since then, German media has a huge response about this image of him and the president.
mesut ozil

“I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.” -Mesut Ozil

Thrashing Ozil that he was being deceitful to his own country, Germany that he grew up in. So much so German politician, Bernd Holzhauer, calls him a goat-f**ker and Werner Steer, the Chief of German Theatre told him to “piss off to Anatolia”, a place in Turkey where many immigrants are based in. He has since received hate mail, threatening phone calls and vicious comments on social media. In his statement, he said “when high ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough. That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever be accepted.”

Successful basketball star, LeBron James said that “being black in America is tough” in response to police investigating a racial slur spray-painted on the front gate of one of his home. James has always been vocal on the issue of racism and hopes to see a growth of unity acts throughout sports.

“It (racism) is hidden most days. It is alive every single day.” -LeBron James   

TV Show

The sitcom “Roseanne” has been a real top new comeback show of the TV season. However, it all backfired when it was cancelled by the American ABC network after the main star of the show and self-titled in the sitcom itself, Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist comment. In the tweet, she wrote,


What happened in here was when she referred to Barack Obama’s top adviser Valerie Jarrett (who is African-American) to an ape – a slur so extreme that it’s very racist. Even before this tweet came tumbling down on her, on Twitter, she is known to be a conspiracy theory- loving with a political history.  


Internationally acclaimed popular clothing line which has a reputation for its fast-clothing for men, women, teenagers and children made new enemies and lost deals over a racially insensitive hoodie jacket that featured on both H&M’s UK and US websites, whereby a child’s green hooded top emblazoned with the phrase: ‘Coolest Monkey In The Jungle’. What made this an issue was that the model for this attire was a black kid, which means, not cool H&M, not cool. Historically, the term Monkey was used as a derogatory term against the African Americans and has negative connotations attached to that word.

H&M came out with a statement as showed

h&m.jpg 1

While racism is going on in other parts of the world, Malaysia, on the other hand, is a beautiful place which is filled with many diverse and friendly people although racism still lives amongst us.

For those who know me, I despise racism. I had to endure racism whether I like it or not on a frequent basis up to today. From being mistreated for my skin colour, “you look pretty for an Indian” statements, not being selected because I was not a certain “kind”, and people underestimate me because of the Indian “stereotypes”. This gets me so riled up to spread the good word of unity to others. This is all the more reasons why I want to do this article in hopes to inspire millions of people out there to love one another and to not see race as an obstacle to make the world a better place.
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I decided to ask help from my friends and social media on their encounter with racism and the results were astonishing. The amount of slurs and mistreatments we as Malaysians get from another is truly mind-blowing and this is something that should be addressed out in order to change the minds of the perception of people towards kindness.

Warning: Contains strong language. All of the comments and the race that they are addressing specifically on does NOT reflect on them as humans. This is their opinion and thoughts. Names shall be kept private for safety reasons. Keep an open mind before you proceed.

  • At a Ramadhan Bazaar, a Malay lady walked past me and my family while muttering “diaorang tak puasa, datang sini buat apa?”  
  • “As an insurance agent, I used to get the response “I would rather have a Chinese insurance agent. Sorry”.
  • “I’m a Chindian man and I was eating at the mamak during the fasting month. A passerby screamed “melayu bodoh, tak reti puasa ke?”
  • “Once after school, it was raining heavily. I then noticed one of my schoolmates offering some friends a ride home and so I asked if I could get a ride too but he said no. Reason being is because his mother does not like black people in her car.”
  • “During my primary school days, I got into an argument with one of my classmates as she said that Malays are the superior race and I should feel inferior. “
  • When I was young, I remembered a small young Malay toddler walking to me because I was smiling at him. Next thing, his mother told him in Malay: “cina babi, jgn pergi dekat.”
  • “I was riding a bus back home when I saw two tourists was asking around for directions, nobody was helping them so I stepped in. When I explained to them in a detailed manner as to how they can get to their destination, they straight away ignored and didn’t look at me because of my Muslim roots.”
  • “I’m a Ugandan and I receive quite a number of discrimination from Malaysians. There is one incident that left me speechless. I once entered the lift that had a family of mum, dad and two kids. As soon as the mum saw me pushed her kids into the farthest corner and pulled her husband in front of her as if to protect her from me.”
  • “Just because the stereotypes of Indian label us as criminals (which is not true), that doesn’t mean you need to lock your car whenever we walk past it ”
Image via beautifulnara

Image via beautifulnara

  • “When I was looking for a room to rent in Malaysia and every signboard/posting said ONLY Chinese.”
  • Being a Chindian is tough when people give me the stare for not following the “tutup aurat” ways. Plus, now I’m getting to know an Indian guy, and I overheard an Indian family commenting like “why must she take boys from our race, why can’t she date her own race?”
  • Happened to a close friend of mine, and she is currently studying in a government university. She receives torment and verbal abuse from her batchmates for her entry in a local Uni just because she is not a “bumiputera”. She spends her days crying and feeling insecure about herself.”
  • “Apa bangsa ah?” said the house owner. He only wants Chinese because it’s less of a problem if Indians were to stay in.
  • Once there was a Malay patient that was dying. He needed a blood transfusion urgently, but he insisted on having a Muslim blood only to be transfused. He said because of “cina darah ada babi, India darah ada arak.”
  • “An employer replied me within seconds for a teaching job only because I reply I could speak Mandarin (he didn’t respond before that), just to test the waters. My answer to his job opening: NO THANK YOU!” 
  • “I’ve gotten discriminated simply because of my inability to speak my mother tongue”

This is some of the many examples we as Malaysians have to go through on a daily basis. Although we may be a multiracial nation, it honestly doesn’t feel like we are living in one fully. With the constant racist remarks, sometimes you can’t help but wonder that probably the main reason as to why people grow into a racist person due to the facts of how we were brought up by our folks and the elderly. You have no idea the amount of “if you don’t behave, the apunene/black man will come and catch you” words, and your treatment towards others that you tell your kids could badly affect their perception towards a race of another kind in the future.

Photo credit: Malaysiakini. Image from Colin Nicholas

Photo credit: Malaysiakini. Image from Colin Nicholas

Dear parents, if you want a steady and harmonious country, telling your children about which race is good and bad shouldn’t be happening from the very start. Just because you went through a bad past with others does not determine who they are in the present and pass your hatred towards the future generation. You don’t fight racism with racism, the best way is always through solidarity. Children, count your blessings lucky if your parents taught you to accept diversity.  Maybe you are racist due to a past experience, but know that not everyone is the same according to their race. We are all Malaysians that loves the same food and celebrate the same festivals.

“I make fun of all races including both of my own, but people call me racist. So perhaps we should highlight the real definition of racism so that they don’t misunderstand the difference between a racist and an annoying person”

This was an eye-opening statement that I received. If you realise there are people out there who joke about other race including theirs but people don’t call them a racist. Even stand-up comedians use part of this jokes to their material and people get a good laugh at it and yet they do not feel offended. Why? In my opinion, they are not racist because they are not mistreating people through their actions, nor are they showing or suggesting that their race is superior to the others. There’s a fine line between having a good sport about it versus discriminating. In the end, accepting, respect and learning about other race and culture is what’s most important to be in solidarity with others.  

Malaysia recently has been going into the right step of fighting racism when just a few days ago states that instigators of racial and religious hate could face a jail sentence of up to seven years of a fine of RM 100,000 under three new bills which will be tabled in Parliament soon. So, fingers crossed this happens!

Image via futuremalaysia wordpress

Image via futuremalaysia wordpress

To end this, I hope all if not most of you get a clear idea of the brutal world we are living in. My parents always tell me to put myself in other person’s shoe and not to judge a person so quickly. If you are a self-proclaimed racist, all I can say is just go out one fine day and have a friendly conversation with every race here with an open mind. As time goes by, you’ll soon realize what a beautiful place we are staying in just like how I see it through my eyes.

Here a quote from Nelson Mandela for all to reflect.

“People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

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