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ICERD Casual Racism Project (Part 1)

This is one of the most meaningful (if not most meaningful) projects I have ever done (to date) as an illustrator. It’s a collaborative effort by the What’s Up (Singapore’s Newspaper for Students) team and sponsored by the MCCY (Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth).

Talented writer Wei Shan interviewed and spoke to many people who had experienced and quietly borne the hurt of casual racism in their lives. Being part of the racial majority in Singapore, I found myself rather blind to how casual racism can take place in our daily living. It was a moving and eye-opening read, to hear the stories Wei Shan uncovered in the process of writing the articles.

One example which stood out in my mind was how a young kindergartener of a minority race asked his mother to apply sunscreen onto his face so he could look ‘lighter’ and ‘more normal’… I don’t know why, but I couldn’t help tearing at this account. Maybe because it’s just so heartbreaking to hear a five-year old make such a request! I realised how the longing to feel accepted in the community starts at a such young, tender age; that our young ones are more sensitive and perceptive than we think! Thoughtless words/ actions that last only a few seconds can potentially hurt a person for a lifetime.

Just only recently in Singapore, a Chinese man was arrested for kicking and using racial slurs on an Indian lady for not wearing a mask (nothing wrong with that as she was exercising)!

It was rather upsetting news and the general public was appalled by his poor behaviour. It only served to reveal how, during challenging times (in this case, the Covid crisis), hearts can be hardened and turned against each other at the slightest perceived offense. Everything we have pledged to be as a nation all these years can be shaken if we’re not careful.

Anyway, this is the beautiful ICERD project done by the What’s Up team that I’m honoured to be a part of:

Are you really a Singaporean?

What’s in a name?

It’s not funny

Love in any language

Insult or compliment?

Why is my accent funny?

Prickly questions

We are friends

A Fair and Caring community

More in my next post!

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