WHY IS THIS NOT QUESTIONED?

SHE COULD BE AUSTRALIAN, CANADIAN, AMERICAN, NEW ZEALAND.

HE COULD BE AUSTRALIAN, CANADIAN, AMERICAN, NEW ZEALAND.

BUT WHY DO WE QUESTION THE IDENTITY AND NATIONALITIES OF THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE DESPITE BEING BORN IN ANY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING COUNTRIES:

AUSTRALIA, AMERICA, NEW ZEALAND, CANADA?

BECAUSE WHITE LIVES MATTER. WHITE PEOPLE NEED TO IDENTIFY MORE IN COUNTRIES THEY REALLY HAVE NO RIGHT ASSUMING SOVEREIGNTY AND PRIVILEGE AND WE NEVER QUESTION IT.

If you think I’m the one with the issue, think again. Read this from a University Professor who has experienced this first hand as well:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/why-being-an-australian-citizen-doesn-t-mean-others-will-believe-you-truly-belong-20190205-p50vus.html

Hairy Nose White Men Know Best

I love it when a privileged white man tells the rest of us that our experiences can’t be true because they have never experienced it. That lack of Theory of Mind is almost bordering on being autistic.  Jacqueline Maley, one of my favourite Australian journalists, dares to shine the light on Mr Ian MacDonald’s absurdity.  Mr MacDonald, I invite you to engage with anyone of colour and ask ‘Has racism impacted on your daily activities of living in Australia? ‘ then I’d like you to sit and LISTEN. Yes, LISTEN.

If you think Australia has a racism problem, you’re the racist

Senator Ian Macdonald is the Father of the Parliament, which is a nice way of saying he has been there longer than anyone else.

With experience, allegedly comes wisdom, and this week the Queensland senator shared some of his when he declared that racism doesn’t really exist in Australia.

Not since Bob Katter asserted there were no homosexuals in his electorate has such a bold claim been made by a Queenslander.

But, lest you think such a general assertion might be spurious, or at least open to conjecture, consider the evidence Macdonald offered to back it up: two senior ministers in the government are not “white Australian males”, and also, the Aboriginal rugby league player Jonathan Thurston is extremely popular in North Queensland.

Thurston is like a “king”, said Macdonald, and everyone would like to recruit him to their political parties. That’s how un-racist we are: we venerate black sportsmen.

“I might live in a bubble perhaps, but I find it very difficult to find any but rare cases of racism in Australia,” Macdonald told the Senate committee hearing.

And then: “There are obviously isolated aspects of racism in Australia but I would think across the board they’re very isolated.”

Macdonald was arguing that there is no need to appoint a new race discrimination commissioner, and, although unkind observers might say that Macdonald’s best political days are behind him, on this subject he is right on the zeitgeist.

The current commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, will step down in August after a five-year stint and Attorney-General Christian Porter will soon assess applicants to appoint as his replacement. He has dismissed calls not to appoint a successor to Soutphommasane.

Soutphommasane’s tenure was marked by some controversy. He campaigned strongly (and ultimately successfully) against proposed changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” on the basis of race.

In doing so, Soutphommasane lined himself up against then prime minister Tony Abbott, many Liberal MPs, the Murdoch press and conservative think-tank the Institute of Public Affairs, which took out full-page newspaper advertisements to lobby for the anti-18C cause.

The Murdoch press was particularly opposed to the section because its star columnist, Andrew Bolt, famously fell foul of it.

Later, so did its star cartoonist, Bill Leak. In 2016, Leak drew a cartoon for The Australian depicting a drunken Aboriginal father who had forgotten his child’s name. A complaint of race discrimination was made, and later withdrawn, with one of the complainants saying  she felt bullied by The Australian’s coverage of her.

When Leak died of a heart attack in 2017, some of his supporters reportedly blamed the stress of the complaint as a contributing factor.

Soutphommasane’s critics say he tweeted “soliciting” complaints following the cartoon’s publication, and that he promoted more division than harmony.

Porter seemed to nod to these criticisms when he gave an interview saying the next commissioner would need to have “an understanding and empathy not merely for minority groups but for middle Australian values”.

Macdonald is surely capable of forming his own views, but it was an interesting coincidence that his declaration of Australia as racism-free and not requiring a race discrimination commissioner came in the same week the Institute of Public Affairs circulated a “research brief” to parliamentarians arguing “Australia must not appoint a commissioner for racial division”. (Macdonald’s office said the senator had not read the brief when he made his comments, “however [he had] read some Spectatorarticles that had been raised with him by constituents, enriched by his own experiences”.)

The IPA believes the entire Human Rights Commission should be abolished, and asserts that it has abused more human rights than it has redressed.

But until that happens, it argues the government should leave the race discrimination commissioner role empty.

The IPA paper asserts that “refusing to appoint a new race discrimination commissioner would be an acknowledgement that race has no place in Australia’s national institutions”.

This point of view is an interesting one and an increasingly prevalent one among hard conservatives (it’s worth remembering that the IPA is a feeder for Liberal politics: MPs James Paterson, Scott Ryan, Tim Wilson and Tony Smith were all associated with the institute pre-politics).

People who mention race at all, or note racism, or racist incidents, are told that they are the racist ones.

To name race as a factor in social conflict is to stoke social division. To call out the problem is to be the problem.

It is a tricky rhetorical move, because it forces us to go back to first principles, as though we were drafting the “affirmative” case in a year 7 debate entitled: “Does racism exist in Australia?”

That opens the way for people like Macdonald – who has served in the Senate since the early ’90s yet doesn’t concede he lives in a “bubble” – to claim that there is no racism because he has never seen it.

By that logic you could declare me a bacteria-sceptic, or a gravity denier.

Some people have a hard time accepting the concept of subjective experience, particularly when that subjective experience is very different from their own, as subjective experience so often is. It shouldn’t have to be said, but the best witnesses to racism are probably not going to be Anglo-Saxon “lifer” senators who live in largely white communities.

 

Macdonald might ask himself why, if racism was no problem, there was such a strong electoral backlash from ethnic communities over the 18C issue, so strong it turned toxic for the government, which was forced  to dump its pledge to amend the section.

Macdonald’s comments were made the same day The Daily Telegraph published comments from NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley that an influx of refugees into western Sydney, notably Fairfield, has lead to a “white flight” of “many Anglo families” from those suburbs.

The Labor movement, and the ALP, have a long, ignoble tradition of xenophobia and racism but these days it’s rare to see it so openly expressed.

Foley later apologised, claiming he had no idea the term “white flight” might be offensive to some. He says he was only arguing that those regions need proper resources to cope with the surge of new arrivals.

Why, then, would he single out “Anglo families” as being the ones so adversely affected they “have” to leave?

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the proud daughter of immigrants, savaged him in NSW Parliament on Thursday, saying his comments were “divisive, dangerous and nasty”.

For a country that has no racism, racism seems to make the news a lot.

How ‘Australians’ Look at You

Youth is a wonderful time that cushions and wraps you up in a world of naivety. Then you grow up and you become more aware of a few realities.  One of these was how other Australians actually view me.

I’ve lived in Australia for most of my life and I have Australian friends who don’t see me as being different to them. But occasionally I have reality checks that make me realise how the average stranger views me differently.

Case in point: Living in America

I lived in the Pacific North West of America for two years. In my first year I organized a BBQ with some Australians living in the region. I was in contact with a few Aussie families who spoke with me at length over the phone and then….they met me.

Utter and bitter disappointment. I’m not the world’s most confident and outward person and yes charm may not be my forte but I don’t have a disability in social skills either. In fact I’m much better at small talk than my husband who will only engage in the act if it means a pay rise. The reaction of the Australians at the BBQ was really quite something. Some of them just walked away and had their own party elsewhere. Some people hung around but mostly , I sensed an overwhelming tone of ‘You’re not Australian, why did you trick us’. I felt really awful because I had prepared footy games, cricket, a lamington eating competition, pies and sausage rolls and so much more and all I got was a rather rude reception from the people I had invited. It was Australians saying to me ‘you don’t look Australian’ and ‘you’re not one of us’.

Now some of you will say that these were just people with no manners and you’re right. Does that mean we’re a nation of bad-mannered, impolite , crass people? Surely not.

Another Case in Point: Meeting Aussie blokes in Canada

I met up with an Australian girlfriend of mine in Canada who introduced me to her aussie friends there. They were a group of young IT professionals, obviously looking for a date. Now I don’t know what my friend told them, but all I got from one of the disappointed faces was ‘ thought you were an Australian’.

Travelling Around Asia:

This happens to me when I travel in South East Asia as well, especially in Singapore. The excited look on an Australian face only to see I’m a ‘wog’ with an Aussie accent. The look of ‘she’s not one of us’ plastered all over their faces. And because I’m partly English and speak with a slight English accent, the Poms (English) don’t take too kindly to me either. I talk more about this in my post ‘To thyself be True’.

I might think I’m Australian, but most of my experiences in Australia and abroad make me believe I’m not.  Good thing I’ve skin as thick as cow hide and I believe myself to be a citizen of the world, where there will always be a place for me.

Challenging the Status Quo

It stands to reason that I challenge the status quo here in Australia.

Firstly, I am ethnic and young and I really shouldn’t be living in a mostly white upper middle class suburb. Secondly I drive an expensive European family car (how many times have I had disparaging looks from older Anglo folk!). Thirdly, I work in allied health and I don’t act nor look the part.

However, one particular event in my life stands out of when I really pushed the boundaries. I was twenty something and I was going to become a corporate woman. I had just met my then boyfriend who in years to come would be my husband. He was a young, white successful upstart in the management consulting industry and he put me in touch with the owner of a large recruitment agency. Not everyone had the personal details of this multi-millionaire owner of the only large recruitment firm in Sydney in the 1990s, so when Mr Wealthy received my email, he immediately thought I was referred to him by one of his important networking mates.

He organized for an interview with one of his senior recruiters for a position in their recruitment team. Boy were they disappointed. They knew I was a female but they didn’t expect me to look so young and so ethnic. Needless to say the interview lasted all of 20 minutes. But wait there’s more. I get a phone call a week later asking for me to attend an interview out at their Parramatta office for a potential role in their outsourcing department. Mr Wealthy White Man was going to make sure that I paid for wasting his time.  I was interviewed for one and a half hours by some old codger who talked mostly of his time doing voluntary work in out flung places in the world. On several occasions I got up to go and was told to sit back down if I wanted the job. In the end I did end up just leaving (no I’m not slow -after 1/2 hour talking with this person I realised it was pay back).  My point is that I didn’t look the part, I challenged the status quo and I am an ethnic female who is suppose to have no access to those jobs and I shouldn’t have used a boys network to get an interview. That is how we keep people like me in my place-‘ get to the back of the bus, shut up and sit down. ‘

On the other hand, stupid ambitious white men can be bolstered purely by their gender and race. I take Tony Abbott and George W Bush as examples. Due to family connection and/or the boys club these average intelligent men made it to the top job of their respective countries not on merit alone.  Tony Abbott even scored a Rhodes Scholarship and I wonder about all those bright females who topped the HSC in the past years having a shot at it too. Sexism plays a huge role in Australia so I get a double whammy being racially ‘other’ and being a female.

Taking Julia Baird’s quote I now have a Mantra “Carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man.’ I have to say it’s working.

Un-Australian

What and who is an Australian?

My Answer: Anyone Albino. Wait. I’m following it with the Larrikin Caveat: Just Joking.

Last Saturday a lovely Nepalese man came to my door to pick up a couple of things. We got chatting. Half way through the conversation he bluntly tells me and asks ‘You’re not Australian, where do you come from?’  I asked him to guess and of course, as usual, he was way off the mark.  You see an Australian is someone white, preferably the striking image of a displaced Pom (English person). To be a person of any other colour, especially olive, is to be ‘from elsewhere’. Not so long ago and in some media portrayals today, this excluded indigenous people too.

I went to school with an Australian Chinese girl who was 3rd generation Australian but looked Chinese because her father who was born in Australia of Chinese parents, married a Hong Kong Chinese immigrant.  She struggled all her life with identity as she looked Chinese but spoke English only and with a broad Aussie accent. The Chinese didn’t know what to quite make of her and she didn’t hold any Chinese values in how she saw the world but she has NEVER in her life been mistaken for an Australian- the country where she was born, holds the same values, pays taxes in, and is a law-abiding citizen. As she tells me constantly, ‘I feel invisible’. Well done to those past PMs of Australia- your social engineering to make this a white country to the exclusion of the indigenous and others has worked.

Meanwhile, we have the likes of 10 pound Poms settling into Australia in the 1950s. Their offspring would be up to 3rd , some 4th generation Australians but no-one, absolutely no-one would ever mistaken them for being from elsewhere, even though their families would have spent an equal amount of generational time in Australia just like post war Greeks, Italians and everyone else of a non-white hue. In fact, we even managed to elect a PM from a 10 pound Pom family.

At what point in time do non-white migrants become part of the National Australian Identity?



I Wonder About The Demise Of The Aussie Backyard

Ok I’m showing my age here- no apologies to gen Y and younger. In a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald a few weeks ago, a woman wrote about the demise of the Aussie backyard. She lamented that in her youth her backyard was used a lot more by her siblings and the neighbourhood kids than she has ever seen today.

She spoke about friendships, fights, imagination- all those experiences that build one’s character. The article resonated with me on a number of levels. Firstly when I first moved into Sydney’s lower North Shore I noticed how extraordinary quiet my street was. I put it down to the number of retirees on my street until I experienced my first Halloween when hordes of neighbourhood kids came by. And no they weren’t from other areas. On closer observation, I counted at least ten houses near me with primary school age kids but you wouldn’t know it unless you stalked the local bus stop in the early morning.

Why aren’t these kids playing in their gardens and out on the street with other kids? They are all approximately the same age. As a kid I spent most of my time on my bike riding with the neighbours kids, inviting ourselves to each other’s places for lunch and generally passing the long day light saving summer days pretending to be pirates, running away from giants, playing house or Drs etc. I don’t hear any of that now.

I attempted to make friends with a couple of families on the street but that went pear shaped until a realised: we’re too competitive, ugly and unfriendly to extend the generosity of true friendship and kindness to fellow humans and other people’s children. Society has changed and I seem to be experiencing the ugly side of highlighted greed, self interest and in short a corporate style transactional relationship devoid of integrity.

I personally think parents are scheduling their children to do all sorts of after school and weekend activities to keep up with the other kids. Despite the above million dollar price tags for gardens that should be used more often, Lachie and Bella are too busy with extra curricular activities and technology to go outside and romp around with all and sundry. And god help us if they are kids of colour! And yes, I get the irony of a having a dig at social media/technology but in my defence I’ve had plenty of days in the sun socialising with kids- of all hues, backgrounds and beliefs. I think this is what makes me extraordinary respectful, empathetic and flexible with ‘differences’- you learn this from a young age.

I fear children are growing up to be soft, insular, protected and maybe lacking the social niceties of yesteryear. My kids make a lot of noise in their garden playing (not uncontrollable screaming for no reason) and I won’t apologise for it. They don’t have a pool or lots of backyard toys, just their minds and personalities. And they will grow up not knowing the kids on their street or having the experiences that will open their minds to differences. I no doubt will need to schedule that in for them.