“You speak English quite well.”

I won’t say I’ve been frequently on the receiving end of insults. But when it does happen, it becomes instantly memorable. I remember I was in Dublin a few years ago and someone made that comment: “You speak English quite well.”

I didn’t know how to feel at that moment. I remember I smiled. Lol. Was I flattered? Or was I somehow being put “into my place” in this person’s experience of the world? The other person meant no harm. But that line did stick with me.

A few years further back I was sitting at a table with my friends outside of a restaurant near the Botanic Gardens. I remember we weren’t even loud or anything. But my friends and I spoke a mix of English and Tagalog. What’s memorable here? It was the adjacent table and what appeared to be a Caucasian family staring at us. Like, lol, just staring. Being the introvert I was a few years ago, it made me uncomfortable but I didn’t bother to ask them what was their problem. But I remember that stare. I looked around my own group and nothing looked off. Unless perhaps, it was we spoke English together with our Tagalog. It might be peculiar to those uninitiated.

I don’t know, have you ever felt what a racist stare could look like?

I’m ashamed to admit that I fear I’m privileged as I tend to blend in with the majority race in this country (until I speak… lol). Why I say this? It’s not the same for my partner who looks like he’s not from here. My partner shares that he often gets stopped for a bag check at the MRT stations. Yes, he’s unfortunately handpicked more often than not. Because he looks like he’s not from here? It doesn’t bother him. But I think would it be different if we were walking together side-by-side?

(Recently my partner had my favourite stuffed animal in his bag en route to our staycation hotel room, and feared that in an event of a sudden MRT bag inspection, the stuffed toy would be cut in half during some time of inspection!)

As for “you speak English quite well” I can let it slide because it makes the other person look very, very silly.

This week’s uncut video:

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