“BEYOND DIFFERENCES: A CIVIC CONVERSATION ON RACE AND RELIGION” - HIGHLIGHTS
On 28 July 2023, as part of Racial Harmony Month, 84 ITE students came together to celebrate diversity and share their insights on and aspirations for racial and religious harmony in Singapore. This session was organised by the National Youth Council (NYC), Institute of Technical Education (ITE), REACH and the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) and involved the following panelists:
- Mr Eric Chua – Deputy Chairperson, REACH, and Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Community Culture and Youth (MCCY) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)
- Mr Thambyrajah T – Advisory Committee Member, REACH, Chief Operating Officer, SINDA
The session was moderated by Mr Haresh Tilani, Host, Yah Lah But podcast.
Key insights from the large group sharing (using the Race and Religion Civic Conversations Toolkit):
- A participant from Group 1 said it was important to have platforms for open conversations on sensitive topics like race and religion as it helped broaden perspectives and build mutual understanding and common ground between people of diverse backgrounds.
- He also said that the toolkit was useful in starting conversations on topics that were usually avoided or not discussed daily, such as casual racism and interracial relationships.
- A participant from Group 4 said that he was surprised by the level of awareness of different cultures in his group and felt that it was an encouraging testament to the positive state of racial and religious harmony in Singapore.
- A participant from Group 5 said that while her group believed racial and religious harmony was important, they felt they had limited impact in combating racism and racial discrimination as youth.
Key tips from panelists:
- Look inwards and understand your unconscious biases towards people of different backgrounds to start having more informed and constructive conversations on race and religion.
- We need to draw from diversity and different lived experiences as a source of strength rather than viewing it negatively. Beyond the school curriculum, continue to have conversations with participants of diverse backgrounds, as it is necessary for moving forward collectively as a society.
- Be an active bystander when you witness casual racism. Speak up, in a calm manner, against the person who engages in casual racism so they understand that it is not acceptable behaviour.
- Keep an open mind when discussing issues on racial and religious harmony. Like a parachute, the mind works best when kept open.