Being a Free Alien

“Once upon a time they was two girls,” I say. “one girl had black skin, one girl had white.”
Mae Mobley look up at me. She listening.
“Little colored girl say to little white girl, ‘How come your skin be so pale?’ White girl say, ‘I don’t know. How come your skin be so black? What you think that mean?’
“But neither one a them little girls knew. So little white girl say, ‘Well, let’s see. You got hair, I got hair.'”I gives Mae Mobley a little tousle on her head.
“Little colored girl say ‘I got a nose, you got a nose.'”I gives her little snout a tweak. She got to reach up and do the same to me.
“Little white girl say, ‘I got toes, you got toes.’ And I do the little thing with her toes, but she can’t get to mine cause I got my white work shoes on.
“‘So we’s the same. Just a different color’, say that little colored girl. The little white girl she agreed and they was friends. The End.”
Baby Girl just look at me. Law, that was a sorry story if I ever heard one. Wasn’t even no plot to it. But Mae Mobley, she smile and say, “Tell it again.”
Kathryn Stockett, The Help

There was time when people really believe that their race is the purest and thus it makes them the best race in the world. Today, although many people fight against racism, in fact people are still racist in some ways.

I’m going to go back to the time when Indonesia was still a Dutch colony. In that time, the Dutch men created a kind of categorisation in Indonesia. The Dutch belongs to the first category; the best category, other foreigners such as Chinese and Arab belong to the second category while the native Indonesian belongs to the third category or the lowest. Don’t you think it is sad to know that you were treated like an alien in your own land?

I have a point which I believe has something to do with people’s opinion today.

Many many Indonesians want to be white or look white. They believe that having fair skin is a symbol of beauty. One day, a question came to my mind. Is it has something to do with the categorisation in the past? That the white belongs to the first category, thus people want to look white to be respected?

In the past, indeed, the Dutch came to Indonesia and made Indonesia their East Indies. They were in the first class, they got the best education in the country with Dutch curriculum. While other foreigners who were not Dutch were also treated differently, but what about the native Indonesian?

Skin whitening products are very popular among people. Many kinds of lotion and cream are sold everyday. People wear it every day and hoping they will look lighter in the morning. People will say how beautiful a person is when s/he has fair skin or has a white feature. But they seem to forget one important point: they are racist, implicitly. Please people, why do you put a category for your own people? Are you saying if you are not white then you are ugly?

Why should we stare at foreigners on the streets just because they are white? Why should we take a picture with a random white foreigner but not with a random chinese foreigner?

Technically, people are interested in something different from them. Such what people do on the streets when they see a foreigner walking in front of them. But… pfftt… it’s hard to explain.

I had a conversation with one of my foreigner friends. He told me how people liked to stare at him on the streets when he’s walking. How girls would say hi to him while giggling, shyly. He told me it annoyed him at first although he’s now used to it and even enjoy it. At first I thought, “yeah, people on the streets like it. Maybe they never meet a bule – literally means albino, on the streets”. I said that because I never experience that before.

Then, I went to Korea last summer. I was soooo excited to come to Korea. But then I found something. People did stare at me wherever I went. It seemed I was an alien in their land. An alien with something covered my head. Maybe it was their first time to see a girl in hijab, so I didn’t mind at first. But later, I started to think, “what are you looking at?”. I think it was my actual first culture shock.

One thing I never really say to people around me, “I think racism in today’s world is not only about skin colour, but also about what you believe in, what you wear, your speech, everything! I don’t know what you will call it. I think it’s not racism, but if racism was a term for any kind of discrimination, then it is about everything. It’s funny to think how people fight for freedom and how freedom is protected by law but you can’t even wear what you want to wear or say what you want to say.”

The closing statement of this entry might be irrelevant. Sorry.


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