PETALING JAYA, July 15 — Rapper Saint TFC’s latest single I’ll Not Forget is making waves for its hard-hitting message about discrimination towards Indian people in Malaysia.
Saint TFC, whose real name is Samson Thomas, drew inspiration for the song from his own experiences of racism and colourism, including how he was called “gelap (dark)” for the first time at the age of five and the negative psychological consequences that followed.
The hip-hop track also includes an impassioned verse about racial slurs like “pendatang (immigrant)” and “pariah” that have sadly become normalised and are often used against the Indian community.
Thomas, 33, told Malay Mail that the Black Lives Matter movement was the catalyst for I’ll Not Forget as it moved him to reflect on the mistreatment of dark-skinned minorities not just in the United States but in Malaysia as well.
“I’ve always wanted to do a song that hits home and racism was always something that bothered me, but I never quite found the right time or energy to do it.
“But George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement made me think about issues that were happening in Malaysia as well and that inspired me to write about my own experience of being racially abused.
“I don’t want to point fingers and accuse people by saying ‘You’re a racist.’ I just wanted to share my experience and my story through this song,” said Thomas.
I’ll Not Forget is a trilingual track that not only calls out discrimination from other races towards Malaysian Indians but also addresses internalised racism within the Indian community itself.
In the song, Thomas delivers an impassioned verse in Tamil that tackles caste and religious disputes as well as obsessions with being fair-skinned.
“The song is not just about other people but it’s about my own community as well.
“I would like them to understand that the most important thing is being human. There’s no need to fight over things like names, caste, and religion.”
The Kuala Lumpur-based rapper hopes that I’ll Not Forget can encourage Malaysians to step out of their comfort zones when talking about racism and be more self-aware about how they may be unconsciously discriminating against others of a different skin colour.
“Right now, these are the kinds of conversations we only have with our friends behind closed doors or at the mamak. No one really addresses it in the open.
“My idea is not to react to racism but to understand what it is and not to do it myself,” he said.
“Many of us do it on a daily basis and many of us might not know what a racial slur is to begin with.
“I want people to start talking about it and stop making the subject taboo. This is already happening around us and we need to do something about it.”
I’ll Not Forget was released on July 10 and has gained more than 18,000 views and 200 comments on YouTube so far.
Many people in the comments resonated deeply with the struggles Thomas expressed and saluted him for giving a voice to the discrimination faced by dark-skinned minorities.
I’ll Not Forget even managed to transcend the generation gap as fans both young and old found familiarity in the song’s lyrics.
“As much as I’m happy and glad that the song is going places, I’m also sad that a lot of people could relate to what I wrote about.
“A lot of people have experienced this and they’ve been emailing me and sending me messages on social media telling me about how they went through the same things.
“I had a few military officers in their 50s and 60s who said they’ve gone through this and students telling me how teachers and friends at school have mistreated them because of their race.”
Thomas said the song has also been bittersweet for Malaysians living overseas in places like the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Canada, and Australia, many of whom contacted him to say that the track made them miss home but at the same time, it reminded them of the reasons that led to them moving to a different country.
These were new revelations for Thomas, who has been doing music for over 15 years in addition to working as an event organiser and emcee.
He hopes that his music can continue to help people recognise the shared humanity in others while promoting insightful discussions about issues close to the heart of Malaysians.
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