You might know me as Hijabrella, or the girl that’s got a weird “Malay + Chinese” name; but apart from labels, that I’ve gotten used to, I believe I represent something more pressing than my seemingly contradicting identity – the neglected minority of minorities.
In Sunny Singapore, beyond the CMIO classification comes the 2nd shade of grey of one’s religious orientation. It seems that classification is all the rage in this acclaimed multi-racial and religious society.
It is in this same society where a Chinese Muslim like me would get verbally abused for being Muslim while speaking the Mandarin language, that a Muslim like me would be soubted for my choice of faith just because I cannot speak the Malay language.
Thus I take all these superficial challenges I face, to try and reach out to the neglected minority, the ones who do not fit the traditional notion of what it means to have a ‘sense of belonging’. That even with the contradictory identity, I am also the individual that contribute to the learning of other people’s cookie-cutter children at the zoo, that I organise fund raisers for the community which speaks a different language from me, and that I also ensure my grandmother gets to her appointments on time even though the image of a Peranakan-and-Malay-grandmother-granddaughter duo turns heads in an uncomfortable way.
I am more than confident that I am not the only one, of my kind, who contributes in this way, if not more.
The fact that even supposedly-advanced modern day people cringe, or scrunch their faces when they witness a person like me relate in a language that may not befit my outer appearance, shows that this multiracial society still cannot accept that we are people first, helping others advance, before we attempt to fit into the cookie-cutter groups that the community has set out for us.
Without the people, can the community actually see the day where more appropriate classification groups and spaces are made for us, the neglected minority? Just as the community should stop marginalising the neglected minority, so too, should the neglected minority stop feeling so sorry for themselves and work on a better scheme to help others understand that we do not have to fit into traditional society before we can benefit others!