To the Worst Teacher I've Ever Had
I was introduced to racism when I was nine years old.
And I experienced it from a teacher. Years later, I wrote an article on xoJane about my racism experiences in Singapore and while I want to take back what I said about racism in the US, especially today (I'm still saying that acknowledging that racism exists in the US is definitely better than sweeping under the rug in Singapore), I still hold a lot of animosity and hatred towards said-teacher. And so I wrote a letter. What started to be something purely cathartic for me became something I wanted to send out to her, and to send out to the world.
I've been wanting to write this email to you for a long time, and recently, since I came home from living in Los Angeles, I started looking you up on the Internet and I found that you've started wearing the hijab. And if you believe in God as strongly as I do, I suggest you start seeking forgiveness for all the children's lives you've completely messed up.
My leaving primary school will mark 20 years next year, and you're still in the same place. I have travelled the world, lived numerous lives, worked as a journalist for over ten years and I'm still appalled and disgusted at the way you taught me, and my class that many years ago.
If you need some kind of recollection, this what you did.
Say whatever you want — but I couldn't be prouder of that op-ed piece. For so many people who experienced racism from their teachers, from their peers, a place where they should be safe, a school, became complete hell — for the first time in their lives, they realised they weren't alone. People have personally come up to me, both in Singapore and the US and told me this.
I want you to know that you were the worst teacher I've ever had. Everything from calling me names, from ostracising me, from hitting me and my classmates outside the classroom so the rest of the level can watch, from policing what I ate at recess, from making fun of me behind my back like an insolent child while I writing on the blackboard makes you completely unfit as teacher.
I want you to know that I hate you. I detest your very soul and existence and I hate that you've affected me so much and I have emotional scars from experiences when I was nine and ten years old.
I hope you're not proud of the 20-something years you've had as an educator, because for as long as I've had a thought about unfit educators, you, and a certain Kamariah who taught Malay back in '97 top my list.
I'm writing this to you after 20 years of leaving your class for two reasons — one, because I absolutely abhor you and I need to tell you this to be able to close this chapter in my life, and I want to tell you that I'm teaching my children to stand up to bullies like you because I didn't know how to. More than anything right now, I want to hug my absolutely clueless nine-year-old self and tell her that she's meant for greatness even though no teacher told her that.
In schools, bullies tend to be your peers. Some would shove you, others called you names and it would hurt. For me, my bullies were my educators — and their behaviour enabled other children to do the same.
I don't know how many children you've hurt, embarrassed or ostracised in your career, but from the way you treated me, I'm sure I wasn't the only one.
I will never wish you well, or hope you're happy. I'm writing this to you so I can close this chapter in my life, knowing that you now know you've carried out repulsive, irreversible actions in your career.