A Black Cat Myth

(tulisan ini merupakan bagian dari serial #YourStoriesMatter. Kamu juga bisa mengirimkan tulisanmu di sini).

I believe everyone is familiar with the saying; “do not cross the path of a black cat, it will bring you 7 years of bad luck”. But so far, we have only heard the claims from humans with their paranoia-induced rationale. Little, or in the case of Black Cats, none would be heard from those with discriminated features – the ones who are actually slandered.

Now, let’s just refer to this one person as the Black Cat. Black Cat here is friends with White Cat, who belonged to a Chinese-Indonesian household. Their relationship was fine, until recently when White Cat’s owner lost her car key. White Cat then soon introduced Black Cat to its human – unbeknownst to them the bad timing of the rendezvous. Soon thereafter, the White Cat’s owner vented to her: “You should stop mingling with that Black Cat, Mommy’s keys must have gone missing because of those black cats, and your friend must be one of them!” Note that despite this serious allegation, the owner has not even witnessed the whole incident herself. Nevertheless, the owner still insists that black cats bring bad luck; and to have one constantly mingling with her cats means bad things will keep happening.

It is an indisputable public secret in Indonesia that there is at least some animosity between the Chinese-Indonesians and the ‘Pribumi’ non-Chinese. The reason why I mentioned the non-Chinese, is because any community with dark skin and seemingly little to no oriental ‘Chinese’ features, will also be discriminated against. This does not exclude the experience of Chinese-Indonesian with darker features. And yes, as the writer, I too have experienced the ordeal where I needed to lighten up my skin tone in order to be considered truly ‘Chinese-Indonesian.’

Now read that story again and let’s replace the Black Cat and the White Cat with people whose names are Budi and Mei respectively. It is a direct allegation of an entire race being thieves, due to paranoia stemmed from historical grievances, fear and discrimination. This is a norm; even I’ve heard stories from friends being told by their parents not to get close to this hypothetical ‘Budi’ character. Why? In these parents’ eyes, Budi’s face looks like that of a thieving rapist or a human trafficker who kidnaps children and then either forces them to beg on the streets or become prostitutes. All because they have a darker skin tone – let that sink in.

From time to time I hear my own family members saying that socializing with other ethnicities is something bad. I’ve even heard of instances where some Chinese-Indonesian parents outright discourage their children from speaking ‘too much’ Bahasa Indonesia in an attempt to distance themselves from these ‘black cats’. Racism is not just a product of disinterest and disconnection, it is a one that morphs into something systemic in an entire society; and as seen often, it can frame an entire race of people as criminals. We can also see to which people these stereotypes always land on; but in the end, it’s all just a myth forged in hatred and perpetuated by ignorance.

Tidak ada yang layak diperlakukan secara diskriminatif. Kirim tulisanmu sekarang, karena #YourStoriesMatter dan sekarang adalah #SaatnyaBerhenti. Kirim tulisanmu sekarang, karena #YourStoriesMatter dan sekarang adalah #SaatnyaBerhenti.