I’ve become so accustomed to filling in my “Race” on application forms in Singapore. Usually, I just need to choose one of four options – Chinese, Malay, Indian or Others.
But when you register on the MySkillsFuture website (www.myskillsfuture.sg), you now have a long list of “races” to choose from!
Instead of being just “Malay”, you can choose “Acehnese”, “Boyanese” or even “Bugis”.
You can identify as “Indian”, or you can be more specific and select “Tamil”, “Punjabi”, “Sindhi”, “Goan”, or others.
Depending on how nationalistic you are, you can choose “French”, “Dane”, “German”, or just jettison all these archaic labels for the more progressive “European”. For the more pedantic, instead of “British”, go ahead and choose “English”, “Welsh” or “Scot” (apologies to the Northern Irish, there’s no option for you).
If you’re only partly English, don’t worry – there are several hybrid options for you, such as “Anglo Chinese”, “Anglo Indian”, “Anglo Filipino”, “Anglo Burmese”, and “Anglo Thai”. (What, no “Anglo Uzbek”??? Sheesh.)
At the risk of sounding like a neo-Nazi, you can even choose “Aryan”. Oh man, I’d like to see who’s brave enough to do that…
If you think that “American” and “Canadian” are races rather than the more inclusive labels of civic identity that they are generally believed to be, those options are listed too. I have no idea why, but they’re there.
For our Middle Eastern friends, shalom/salam and welcome to the party. Along with “Jew” and “Arab”, “Israeli” and “Palestine” are somehow options too. Wow, this reminds me of Conflict Resolution classes back in Israel…
But if all this is too complicated, and you’d rather just put the generic and non-committal “Other”, you’re in luck. Though for some bizarre reason, that’s listed along with “Other Eurasian”, “Other Indonesian” and “Other Indian”.
So what should I choose? Normally, I would just choose “Indian”. But with such a smorgasbord of “races”, I feel like writing in and asking for “Indo-Greek” to be made available. After all, that sounds better than “Greco-Indian”.
Or I could just be a rebel, forget the whole “race” thing, and choose “Brahmin” (I kid you not, it’s actually there).
Look, I appreciate the effort to move away from the CMIO system and acknowledge the great diversity on our island, but in offering so many options, the labels have become meaningless. Or maybe that’s the whole point?