Better to encourage 'race-sightfulness'

To be race-blind may not be entirely desirable because, like physical blindness, it may cause us to stumble and fall, with nothing to guide our way in our relationships with others who are different from us (Race-linked issues raised at Pre-U Seminar; May 30).

Instead, we should encourage and inculcate "race-sightfulness", that is, to learn to see the beauty that our differences make, which creates a full and interesting life for everybody.

To do this, we have to overcome our "race-shortsightedness" that arises because of ethnocentric pride.

It is human to believe that our respective tongue or tribe should take centre stage because it gives us a sense of place in a bewildering world.

But ethnocentricity is truly blind and ignorant.

To go from ethnocentric blindness to race-sightfulness, we have to be willing to admit our deep ignorance of other people and their cultures, and to develop a desire to learn from one another and thus enrich one another's lives.

I enjoy my walk along the beach at East Coast Park; it is a walk in an international and multicultural paradise.

Where else in the world can I, within earshot and without effort, get to hear so many languages and meet such a variety of people gathered together in their own affinity groups to enjoy a weekend of happiness and sharing?

We have to interact, not segregate, to become aware of our own narrow-mindedness and prejudices.

In so doing, we become truly race-neutral, knowing that the sun shines and the rain falls on all regardless of race, language or religion.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2017, with the headline 'Better to encourage 'race-sightfulness''. Print Edition | Subscribe