International school students, commonly known as “dek inter”, are an elite group.
Their parents are stockholders, corporate owners, political figures, millionaires and billionaires. Their families have the power to influence Thai politics and the economy. These students live the “bougie-life” of wealth, power, opportunities and even fame.
I am one of them and I am ashamed.
I am ashamed because we are a part of Thailand’s future. We are blessed with abundant social capital, money and opportunities. I am ashamed because, with all the wealth, power and opportunities, the majority of us choose to be shallow, ignorant and afraid.
As soon as the video of George Floyd surfaced on the internet, at least five of my friends tagged me on their Instagram story, which was simply a black screen with the hashtag “#blacklivesmatter”.
More and more followed and the fight for racial equality became a “social trend” for dek inter. We flooded our IG stories with black screens and messages on the importance of equality.
I have scrolled past at least ten of my friends on Instagram saying things like:
“We should all fight for equality and fight against injustice.”
“Please donate to these organizations, so that we can help fight the oppressive system that has plagued the USA.”
“We should all stand up against injustice and use our voice to help those in need.”
All the messages ended with #blacklivesmatter.
Days later, #saveวันเฉลิม (Wanchalearm Satsaksit) went viral on social media. Discussions on human rights and freedom of speech once again heat up in Thailand.
But among international school students, there has been nothing, but silence.
In fact, most of us still don’t even know who Wanchalearm is.
We are only interested in a political issue if it’s “fashionable”.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t fight for “black lives”, what I’m saying is that if we really do care about human rights, why not start right here at home?
Why not care about the injustice and abuse of power in our country first?
We, the privileged, must stop using politics as a social trend, because this is simply selective activism. It is definitely important to tackle the issue of racial inequality, but the injustice that is inherent in the Thai society should be prioritized, because it is what impacts us most.
We live here. We are Thais. We are supposed to be the future.
I feel that we international school students are too ignorant, shallow and afraid.
We are willfully ignorant because we choose to close our eyes and enjoy the finer things in life. We know that the deaths of activists, the censorship of free speech or the increased wealth gap do not affect our lavish lifestyles.
We are shallow because we feel immune to the economic and political struggles that middle and lower-income people suffer from. We have the privilege to not care.
We are afraid because caring about Thai political issues that are not “globally fashionable” means that we are lame or not “trendy”.
We need to stop being ignorant, shallow and afraid.