African-Chinese teen urges fellow Singaporeans not to use the ’N’ word

Melanie Kasise is a local teen who’s half-African, half-Chinese and looks like she’s well on the path to a successful modeling career.

Though she’s got the license to do so, Kasise hates dropping the N-word. And she’s telling her fellow Singaporeans to stop doing it, too — unless they’re black.

On Monday night, the 16-year-old tweeted out to her compatriots to stop dropping N-bombs for the reason that they’re not familiar with the term’s backstory, and the crushing gravity of the word.

“Even as a girl that is partially African, I do not like to use that word because it is a word with ALOT of history, and even I have not been through the true weight of the word.”

Kasise stops short of elaborating exactly why the word “nigga” should not be used, regardless of intention.

Singapore and the N-word

Much like how Singaporeans may not be that much bothered by Nazi insignia, the plausible reason why some folks here don’t see anything wrong with dropping N-bombs is that we’re just not very familiar with it.

Singapore’s history is not closely intertwined with black history and black culture, and this results in a lack of knowledge about the weight of the word. While some may argue that “it’s just a word,” it’s really not. It’s an intentionally derogatory insult that has been used to oppress African slaves in America and cut down on their basic human dignity — a word that holds centuries of blood-soaked history.

It’s not unusual for a Singaporean not to ever interact with a black individual their whole life, and this isolation from the black community would mean that very rarely they’d be called out for using the N-word. It’s not often that locals would be educated properly about the word, or even black culture. Thus why some folks here don’t find blackface offensive, and actually include it for comedic purposes on TV programs.

Kasise may not be able to flesh out the weight of the word, but here’s acclaimed African-American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates explaining why some words just don’t belong to everyone.

This article, African-Chinese teen urges fellow Singaporeans not to use the ’N’ word, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!

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