Brown is Redacted: Reflecting on Race in Singapore

Brown is Redacted: Reflecting on Race in Singapore responds to, expands on and questions what we think we know about the lived experiences of minority-raced people in Singapore. Inspired by Brown Is Haram, a performance-lecture on minority-race narratives staged at The Substation in 2021, this anthology reflects on how brownness is constructed, sidelined, but also celebrated in this nation-state. Through a combination of essays, academic works, poems, and stories by brown individuals, Brown is Redacted both attempts to and fails to create a singular brown experience. What this anthology does produce instead, is a moving and expressive work of solidarity and vulnerability.

"Brown is Redacted is an incredible and much-needed collection of work that challenges preconceived notions about state- and socially created categories. The works here interrogate the nature of identity, using the lenses of art, academia and personal experience and capturing the dreary pain of being othered as well as the powerful joy of being seen. The writers hold nothing back, offering their hurt, tenderly showcasing the beauty in the under-represented, and triumphantly celebrating individuality." Akshita Nanda, co-winner of the Singapore Literature Prize in English Fiction

Brown is Redacted, through its ambition and lyricism, liberates us from the multicultural straitjacket stitched in the 1960s. On every page is a voice that has risen from the interstices of overlapping traditions and generations. Together they lay bare the complexities of the brown experience: the rawness of the struggle, the absurdity of the ignorance, the radical agency of choice, the ecstasy of solidarity. We can transcend. To be brown in Singapore is to dance between anguish and joy.” Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, Editor-in-Chief, Jom

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Brown is Redacted: Reflecting on Race in Singapore

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Being brown in Singapore is complicated by a hierarchy of differences in status, by citizenship, non-citizenship, gender, class, sexuality and disability. It is this complex, troubling situation and experiences that are explored in this thought-provoking book by a diversity of individuals. To tell a story, your story, the individual story, is to claim agency and a place as an equal citizen. Brown is Redacted: Reflections on Race in Singapore is a welcome addition to our conversation on race and racism. —Constance Singam, Author and Activist

This gem of a book will navigate you through a roller-coaster of emotions. It will also deepen your critical consciousness of racialised identity in Singapore - where the Chinese constitute a majority but are very much a minority in Southeast Asia. The book deftly empowers us to move beyond the rigidities of racialised identity, narratives, policies and structures. I am humbled by the race whisperers driving this engaging book project. They make me proud to be Singaporean. —Lily Zubaidah Rahim, Honorary Fellow, Georgetown University, Washington DC, Author of The Singapore Dilemma and Singapore in the Malay World

Brown is Redacted is an extremely important addition to Singapore literature. It speaks to the brown experience, something that has always been dismissed and forgotten when talking about being Singaporean and living in Singapore. —Beyond the Hijab, Stories of Muslim Women in Singapore

Once in a blue moon, a book is unleashed unto a people to give its members pause. For a self-professed multicultural nation still struggling with race relations, Brown is Redacted is that book. The book’s treatment of brownness is nothing short of illuminating. —Nazry Bahrawi, Assistant Professor of Southeast Asian Literature and Culture, University of Washington


Kristian-Marc James Paul, Mysara Aljaru, Myle Yan Tay


Nabilah Said, Wint Shwe Sin, Laika Jumabhoy, Firdaus Sani, Mary Gomes, Madhu Vijayakumar, Saif Tamal, Laavanya Kathiravelu, Poorva Maithani, Sharvesh Leatchmanan, Mohar Khan, Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME), Durva Gautam Kamdar, Danielle Kaur, Prashant Somosundram, raihan, Paul M. Jerusalem, Jaryl George Solomon, Mish’aal Syed Nasar, Bhing Navato, Misha Ghosh, Ashwin Ram Saravanan, Roshrin D/O Abdul Azees, Hazirah Mohamad, Chand Chandramohan, Muhammad Ashyur, (Interviewed by Femi), nor, Zakir Hossain Khokan