George Floyd was murdered in the streets of Minneapolis by a cop who kneed on his neck as he yelled, “I can’t breathe”.
This sparked outrage within the African-American community as well as the rest of the world who also stood by and watched an innocent man being killed on the streets just for being black.
Currently, the #BlackLivesMatter movement which started in 2013 after a similar incident, has led to protests, riots and hundreds of petitions calling for the arrest of the officer in charge. Thousands partake in marches, regardless of skin colour or religion, to fight against systemic oppression and police brutality towards the black community.
Spearheading a new wave of political activism, the world is waking up and amplifying the voices of those who have been long ignored. However, Malaysians, especially one in particular, have taken this opportunity to voice a different opinion on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Miss Universe Malaysia, Samantha Katie James, is experiencing backlash for the comments she posted on her IG Story pertaining to the current outrage by Malaysians towards the inequality faced in the U.S towards the African-American community.
In a series of posts, she managed to display downright tone-deaf sentiments regarding the protests that can only be a result of outstanding privilege. She writes,
Yes, Samantha, you don’t live in America but that doesn’t mean you are unequipped to speak of the injustices faced by those who are victims of hundreds of years of enslavement and now mass incarceration and police brutality.
The entire point of the protests is to take back the power and demand a change in the criminal justice system which has been proven to favour cops over those who have died in their hands (see: Sandra Bland, Emmett Till and Amadou Diallo – just to name a few).
While nobody should condone violence, and protesting should always prioritise the safety of those involved instead of endangering each other in acts of vandalising and looting…
What does “everyone else who has nothing to do with it” even mean? Does it mean that just because blood is being shed somewhere other than our own soil, we are supposed to turn a blind eye? How is supporting an integral civil rights movement “unnecessary” or “mindless”?
Despite that, she continues by saying “every 45 seconds a child is dying needlessly from hunger” to divert to a different topic of discussion while radiating her yoga beams. However, according to her logic from the previous post, why should we care? Isn’t that being a “busy body” since it has nothing to do with us? Is this only applicable to people who have or want to have children? And to top it off, she’s saying all this while being anti-vaccine…
The fact that she can say she’s happy because of the weather whilst thousands of people are being shot by rubber bullets, teargassed and injured by shrapnel from the chaos is reminding me a lot of a certain family from a certain film that discusses how blind the privileged are to the struggles of the lower classes. But I’m happy you’re enjoying spring, Samantha…
We now come to the most problematic statement that she had the gall to even write let alone post. She says,
“To the black people. Relax, take it as a challenge, [it] makes you stronger. You chose to be born as a ‘coloured’ person in America for a reason. To learn a certain lesson.”
Let’s take a moment for that to sink in.
Moment’s over. Samantha Katie James is a white woman (or at least she identifies as such) living in Malaysia who is currently privileged enough to have the opportunity to travel the world. How can a person like her even begin to understand the challenges faced by minorities, especially black people, in America when she’s been gliding through life enjoying the richness of the moment which lies between good and bad?
Since she is unable to understand the outrage and severity of the issues in America, what about caring for African people who face racial inequality, profiling and discrimination here in Malaysia? Is she going to deny their struggles as well?
I wanna share some of the stories and experiences people have sent me today. Most of them are from marginalised communities in Malaysia either foreign or local. Some of them have asked to have their identities kept in order to protect their safety. I’ll try to keep this updated! pic.twitter.com/xfN0b3zbr5
— HEAD BARB IN CHARGE (@lilasianthiccie) May 31, 2020
Malaysians. We are complicit. We are part of the problem. Own up. pic.twitter.com/FzofGJqjEn
— alextbh (@_alextbh) May 29, 2020
How does someone ‘choose’ to be born a ‘coloured’ person? Did they sign a contract with God before becoming a zygote in their mother’s womb? Was there a sorting hat involved that determines our race right before we’re shot out into the world? I must have missed that lesson in Biology class…
Marsha P. Johnson was a black trans woman who was known for throwing the first brick in the 1969 Stonewall riots. She spent much of her life fighting for equality and was one of the spearheads for the early gay liberation movements before she was murdered. REMEMBER HER. pic.twitter.com/VJVDnYjeok
— best sapphics in the world (@bestsapphics) May 30, 2020
they used black babies as bait for gators and collected heads of people they colonized , mayb you should rethink saying the n-word pic.twitter.com/8U7yl3J8nT
— ᵇˡᵐ✩ッ (@hYdrOXiDeEee) May 30, 2020
To “accept it as it is” would be to remain mute and dormant. Would we have our rights as Malaysians had our great grandfathers and grandmothers not fought for independence? Would the LGBT+ community have their rights if the first brick was not thrown at Stonewall? Wouldn’t slavery and colonisation still exist to this very day if we just accepted that injustices are “inevitable”?
Remaining calm and “protect heart” (sic) has never been the solution and it will never be which is why protests exists. When a community has been silenced for long enough, the only way for them to be heard is to make a lot of noise.
“Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world,” is an accurate representation of Samantha. A woman adorned with luxury and privilege could never fathom a less-than simple life.
To add salt to injury, many of Samantha’s followers have attempted to educate her on the matter but have been either mocked or deemed to not “understand this level and state of mind.” Even worse, she condescends by saying, “Everyone grows at a different rate.”
Yes, and for Samantha it’s very, very slow…
Finally, she sums it up by advising us to stop watching Netflix. Err, no. If she’s insinuating that Netflix is the sole provider of black propaganda-entertainment, she’s wrong… it also provides us with liberal, atheist, Jewish, LBGT+, and progressive Muslim propaganda-entertainment among other shows if we’re keeping score.
Haha, that’s funny, Samantha. Because watching documentaries, series and films that portray accurate depictions of history so we, as a society, can remain educated and informed is essentially all just diluted into entertainment, right? Well, you’re the star so…
With all that said, it’s hard to embrace Samantha as an ex-Miss Universe Malaysia since she not only doesn’t care about the battles and plights of her fellow Malaysians, she even finds the struggles of those overseas laughable and completely none of our business. But to her defence, that’s not her talking, it’s her “beautiful soul”.
I’d get more upset, since she represented Malaysia, but then again it was for Miss Universe – a pageant formerly owned by the trigger happy POTUS himself.
It seems that netizens aren’t the only ones angered by Samantha’s posts because a few of her friends, including model Alicia Amin, have spoken out in disagreement.
As someone who has been friends with Samantha I wanna share a thread about why while being woke online and in public spaces is important- but even more so in private and your personal relationships. pic.twitter.com/glTNZvbfR8
— YM Raja Lapar 🍸 (@AliciaAmin) June 1, 2020
From such an eloquent and graceful confrontation, you’d expect Samantha to realise her mistakes, right? Well, don’t hold your breath…
Instead of backing down, admitting fault and apologising, she chose the road less travelled, which is to basically call all of us haters and idiots.
Maybe we should be more selective of the “souls” we pick to become our representatives because Samantha’s behaviour is abhorrent, completely backwards and not at all acceptable by Malaysians. Simply wearing a Nasi Lemak dress doesn’t mean you love our country. Standing up for what is right, listening to the voices of the community and using your privilege to inflict change is how you show patriotism.
For more local celebs-gone-loco, choose JUICE.