Letter: What does racism in Australia mean to me?

Below is a letter written to me by a friend who wish to share his thought about Racism in Australia. Have a read, it’s quite interesting to see what others think about racism.

-Suzanne Nguyen

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Hi Suzanne,

You asked me “What does racism in Australia mean to me?”, I like to share some of my thoughts with you.

While racism exists, I don’t think it’s as serious as the media sensationalise. I think the rise in reports of racism is a bi-product of other issues in Australian society, namely, being too serious, lack of decency and the digital revolution. While we’re multicultural, it wasn’t by choice, Australia does have a racist past. But that was a long time ago, and what we now call racism pales in comparison with what our predecessor went through.

To me Australians used to conjure images of bronze bodied surfies, now it’s of obesity. Australian used to mean rough hardened people who lives on the land and works hard on the land, now we’re better known to be dole bludgers. Australian SAS were one of the smartest and toughest on the battlefield despite our low numbers, now they’re famous for sex scandals. And the best Australian’s value that everyone can easily adopt is being able to laugh at themselves, to take the piss out of each other every now and then, and especially the authorities. Now we take things so seriously, and have to be so careful of what we say, because everything we say or do is documented, recorded and published the minute after the words left our lips, mention bomb on twitter and see what happens, do one wrong thing on camera and get death threats sent to your home, these lounge room crusaders should look at their own actions.

You can learn a little from TV and music of the time. Listening to songs from old Aussies bands like ACDC, Cold Chisel, Australian Crawl and we hear about snapshots of Australian life. Watch TV shows like Acropolis Now, Fast Forward, Full Frontal, and you can see 25 years ago we used to laugh at all the stuffs that divides us, colour, accents, stuffs that we now call politically incorrect. Watch Chasers War and we can see how they take the piss out of authorities, stuffs that can land you in jail.

Our tolerance level have dropped so low that anything offensive could be taken as being racist just because it’s directed at a person from another country. Remember that offense are just words, it’s never given, it’s taken, and how offensive something is depends on how a person take it. So maybe… the problem with rampant racism isn’t Australia or Australians, it’s these people who take offense so easily. In a way, it’s quite similar to bullying. There’s 2 solutions to bullying, 1, punish the bullies, that hasn’t worked so well so far, solution 2, Tell the victims to harden up, take some self-defence classes  and stand up for themselves every now and then, not every case of bullying deserves to be called bullying, that position certainly hasn’t been tried often enough.

More generally we live in a time of:

–          Short attention span: Marketers have to catch your attending within the first 3 seconds.

–          Short memory: People are so into being in the moment, being spontaneous.

–          Stupidity: Who needs to know anything anymore, just google it when you need it. Jobs are mundane, specialised and repetitive because we have efficiency down to a science. It’s getting harder and harder to find people who can use the language we all agreed on properly.

–          Low job satisfaction – People go to work and wait to go home. I could not stand that. What are they doing? So now we have employees who do the bare minimum and probably is doing a half arsed job but thinks they’re doing the boss a favour while wasting their life away.

–          Decline of religion and morality: I used to be a weekend catholic, I’m not saying the church has got no faults, you also can’t say that everything they do is evil. For centuries the church have scared people into behaving morally and doing what’s right. Now, while we know better and no longer need the church for total guidance, not everyone is getting moral guidance drummed into them on a regular basis from other sources.

–          There are so many people who are restless, rude, disrespectful, ungrateful and short tempered: Young people abusing each other and older people in public. Fights breaks out almost daily in the CBD alone, public properties constantly gets vandalised or graffiti, I have been to other countries and I don’t see the same thing there, something is not right with people’s mentality here.

–          Over controlling of the language – no need to explain here.

–          Digitally connected but lonely and physically disconnected – It used to be 2 or 3 families under 1 roof or living very close to each other, and you used to know the people in your street, now there’s more people who live alone than ever before. Instead of getting to know people, it’s all about self-gratification, we’ve got dating down to a science, what to say, when to say, and how to say it to get the girl. And you fail at that game there’s always porn, instant gratification, you can’t get any more efficient than that.

Personally, I guess you could say I was bullied when I was young, but I just didn’t see it that way. I primary school, I had Vietnamese friends who called me names in Vietnamese that meant fuck, a guy called me 4 eyes and picked a fight with me cause I wore glasses. In high school, I was told to play table tennis because I was Asian, I was often jokingly asked if I had or could get “white” (drugs) because I was Asian. Another guy in high school, taller and heavier than me, kept teasing my accent or how I say certain words, I can’t remember what they were anymore, but I do remember snapping one day and I pushed him against the wall and said something, after that he never teased me again. And currently a true Aussie customer, while very good to me, calls me Dufus, an Aussie slang meaning “stupid”, I find it a privilege that he feels comfortable with me enough and can give a damn enough to give me a nick name, it doesn’t bother me. None of these events bothered or traumatised me, because I’m an Australian, and I can laugh it off.

Regards from, Anonymous

Disclaimer:  Writer wishes to remain anonymous

Originally posted here.

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