Foreigner Go Home

Paddington Bear was a dirty Latino
from the darkest of dark Peru.
Until he got saved by that nice English
couple who taught him to speak proper,
dressed him up in a macintosh.
Now he’s cuddly tame and cultured,
fits in so well with their living room.
But then again, who am I to judge,
I’m not that different myself:
just swap the marmalade for marijuana,
the mac for Doc Marten boots,
I’m just another Londoner in Paddington station,
your token Oriental girl for hire
to make your subculture look diverse!
Fitting in so well with shabby-chic furniture
and the latest gypsy folk-punk band.
See, we all like our foreigners ‘different’ in such a way
that we can understand, just enough to call ourselves
tolerant but not so much that they get out of hand.
Because beneath every cheer for diversity
is a throbbing bass line beat
Foreigner go home Foreigner go home foreigner go home
Unless you’re serious about being just like me.
Or maybe I’m being too sceptical
I mean, I like the way I tweak my accent,
my clothes and how I cut my hair: souvenirs
of where I’ve been, I like the looks I get when
I’m back in Singapore, as people shake their heads
another middle class asshole corrupted by the West.
But I’m more likely to get flak back home
these days for how I speak Chinese,
my Mandarin’s tainted by a Beijing drawl,
from making too many China-born friends.
People flash accusing glares, ask are you PRC?
Meaning, how much can I respect you? Or are you one of us?
Are you about to spit? Did you shower in the past week?
Can I end this conversation now?
It’s the latest threat to Singapore today, the flood
of People’s Republic-born –Chinese, out to flaunt their
nouveau-richness, steal your job, your husband, your baby.
Because xenophobia is a meme, found all around the world.
I wish it was just the sole remit of modern Daily Mail readers from Essex,
It’s the growls from Neanderthals meeting the first homo sapien getting off
a boat fresh out of Africa and grunted, you’re not from here, are you?
Grumbles about too many Jewish and Irish people taking
over London’s streets, then it was the Italians, South Asians,
Eastern Europeans: it’s like every generation
there’s a cool new culture to discover to blame and hate.
In the end its not even about being From Over There,
more about making yourself seem less of a Threat,
a constant test of how many boxes you can tick:
passport colour, skin colour, accent, language, clothes
most important: how long it takes for you to get their jokes.
You pass when someone says,
And on and on and on its goes, the constant litany:
the weird Freudian mix of love and hate
Foreigner go home, foreigner go home, foreigner go home
But I’d really love to visit your village one day.
Foreigner go home foreigner go home foreigner go home
But leave us your cleaning skills, your restaurants, your lovely jewellery.
Foreigner go home foreigner go home foreigner go home
See I’ve always had this fantasy about… is it true that Asian girls…..
Foreigner go home foreigner go home, foreigner go home with me.
Because, Paddington Bear, I bet even he gets tired of passing sometimes,
tired of playing the simpering apologetic gentle toy who should be
so grateful to this country.
So keep your ‘tolerance’,
as if foreigners were alcohol: so if you came across more
than ten of us in one night, you’re going to start a bar fight?
Keep your guilt, your deep knowledge of my country,
I don’t even want your citizenship.
I don’t care if you’ve never met anyone from my part of the world
just try and imagine a world before they invented East or West.
Just drop your assumptions,
and listen when we speak.

By Stephanie Dogfoot


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