Race isn’t exclusive to the U.S.?

To be honest, I’m a huge fan of the word “multiculturalism” because it encompasses people of different cultures, rather than different races (which is solely based off of phenotypic characteristics). Different cultures in one country can lead to a range of discussion. In the book Race and Multiculturalism in Malaysia and Singapore (2009), Daniel Goh and Philip Holden the pre- and post-colonial context of multiculturalism and its role in Malaysia and Singapore.

Goh and Holden challenge the idea of multiculturalism and question whether we can understand multiculturalism from a basis other than “terms and categories set by white colonialists” (3). They argue that because it is a Western concept, it is used as the grounds for multiculturalism in Malaysia and Singapore. Multiculturalism is understood in juxtaposition to what white colonialist have defined it as. Additionally, they argue that the state apparatuses weave multiculturalism into the fabric of political and social life to the extent that they are seen as common sense (3). In weaving it into daily life, this understanding of multiculturalism thus becomes normalized, which is what Goh and Holden asks readers to challenge.

Something I found interesting was that the concept of race had the same purpose in Malaysia and Singapore as it does in the U.S. In the U.S., the concept of race is to categorize different groups of people. This categorization thus leads to a hierarchy of races, cultures, and ideas. In the reading, it seems like race is also used to for categorization in Malaysia and Singapore. This highlights that race is not just a concept in the U.S., but in other countries as well, and that it is a concept that is used to categorize bodies and generate a hierarchy. Because philosopher Charles Taylor argues that one should approach multiculturalism with equal value that we hold to our own identities, this proves that race in Malaysia and Singapore is manipulated towards some sort of ranking. One can’t argue against something that isn’t already there.

While multiculturalism encompasses different cultures, it is still derived from a white, settler colonialist ideology that different countries manipulate.


Works Cited

Goh, Daniel P.S. and Holden, Philip. Race and Multiculturalism in Malaysia and Singapore. New York, Routledge, 2009. 

One thought on “Race isn’t exclusive to the U.S.?

  1. Similarly in my post I had went into detail on how the United States, Malaysia, and Singapore use race in order to group people into categories. These categories are based mostly on the way people look which causes certain groups of people to automatically be viewed as a superior race in society. The most interesting point of your blog post would be the idea that multiculturalism, is a concept that’s supposed to bring people closer together based on their differences; but it still uses the same defined races that were created in order to directly separate and oppress people in society due to their physical appearances. Our posts both focus on the idea that no matter what races are recognized in different countries around the world, one race is still always held at a higher standard. Whether it be because of the religion that the group of people follow or the color of their skin. The races may change from country to country but the outcome is still the same, groups of people are affected negatively by man made categories that they have no control over whether they are put into them or not. Races ultimately are used as a form of control over individuals for superior races to prosper in society.

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