Sinhalese or Sri Lankan

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Mar 26 12:54:19 UTC 2009

Sinhalese or Sri Lankan

Sometimes, there seems to be this unspoken sense of superiority within
people. Their eyes are telling you to fuck off back to your country.
As a matter of fact, somebody did tell me to go back to my country and
I asked him what the hell my country was, if it wasn't Sri Lanka. He
tells me to go back to Arabia, in the trading boats that my
grandfathers came down in. Well, i tell him, my grandfathers may have
come down from the sands of Arabia but my grandmothers were probably
from around these parts. Sinhalese blood? What blood is Sinhalese? And
what is Sinhalese blood? Aren't we all Sinhalese in that case? I'm
sure I’ve got some of this so called Sinhalese blood inside me.

Sometimes i laugh at those i perceive to be stupid, but i try not to
because stupidity often disguises genuine ignorance. But when people
say things like 'if you don’t know Sinhalese you don’t deserve to be
living in this country' and 'you should go back to your country', is
when i really know that here, finally! Is stupido ignoramo-ceylonis, a
not-so-elusive Sri Lankan indigenous species. And we aren't just
Indians. Cos if we are Indians then where is our funny accent? (No
offense to Indians, i merely jest Russell Peter-esque firmly
acknowledging that Sri Lankans have their own funny accent), If we are
Indians then where is our dynamic work ethic? (cos let’s face it, we
are a pretty relaxed bunch, which i am not complaining about btw)

Our blood is very much unique to the world, Vijaya's posse mixed in
with the indigenous people, the resulting mish mash mixed in with a
host of other people, Arabs, Colonists, Tamils etc and now if you cut
us up and put us through a zillion mass spectrometers you'd probably
be hard pressed to find something too different. Although people of
different races do look and act a bit different mainly due to cultural
backgrounds, a lot have amalgamated too much for our identities to be
easily guessed if we were all naked and trussed up in front of a
concentration camp.

There was a discussion on one of David Blacker's posts and Acromantula
casually comments (on the harassment that Tamils face at check

'Frankly Tamils brought this upon themselves.. (the whole racial
profiling thing).. well some Tamils at least…instead of going after
lost privileges since independence they should hv started integrating
in to the Sri Lankan society (notice i used da word Sri Lankan)'

And as DB points out to him, what exactly IS this “Sri Lankan
society”? Tamils are part of Sri Lankan society, so what do they have
to integrate into? What Tamils are NOT a part of is Sinhalese society.
It’s like telling an African-American to integrate into American

Are we a country of bigots? I am not saying that the Sinhalese in
particular are bigots. Not at all. The majority populations of most
countries are probably bigots, and so probably are minorities for that
matter. Then is this simply a part of human nature? A result of an act
of conforming to a strong identity that excludes the possibility of
equality being bestowed upon somebody ‘different’ merging with the
difficulties that emerge from having to live with and accept such
people in mainstream society?

I say mainstream but how many of our cities and suburbs are truly
cosmopolitan? An extreme case would be Kiribathgoda, where you'd be
hard pressed to find a Muslim business operation due to there being a
mafia like control where only 'Sinhalese' owned businesses are

That is not to say however, that there aren’t any towns where people
of all races exist peacefully, in fact all (or most) the towns I’ve
lived in my short life were peaceful places and I am glad to say this.
But i think we have a long way to go and i think where it all needs to
start is at the grassroots, we need to start educating our young.

I find that, in the case of a bigot, or a person not open to accepting
a 'different' person, exposure and chances to form a bond or a
friendship with a person from another race have been minimum. I went
to a school where there were people from diverse backgrounds and when
you're a kid you're not really aware of the concept of race so much.
You play hide and seek and cricket and join the interact club and
fight and scream and tussle and get punished together and see each
other humiliated and share a few laughs over the years, by the time
you leave school, chances of you being a bigot (even a closeted one)
are remote.

That is not to say that where you school determines who you turn out
to be, your whole life from your parents, family, neighbourhood and
the nature of the times you live in probably play a heavy role in
that. But my point is, for a country to be united, its people should
genuinely accept each other, and what better way for me to accept and
understand Sinhalese, Tamil or Burgher people than to have a strong
friendship with one of them?

Policy should change to accommodate this. Screening of students in
schools should be stopped. This de facto racial segregation sends a
powerful negative signal and must be eradicated. Language policy needs
to be re-looked at. There is only so much people themselves can do.
The government has to look into this seriously. It has to prevent
racial differences from being exploited for political gain (which has
happened and is happening in abundance) and people should genuinely be
allowed to integrate, and a new culture allowed to emerge.

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