#SummerCamp / Part One

Foreword by Suzanne Nguyen

“What do we do with all the stories we collected
for the The Two Chairs?”

Nam Giang and I were part of the Summer Camp Residency held at Rockers Surfers, Bondi Pavilion. We spend a week there to flesh out some of the ideas found in the ‘The Two Chairs Collection’ and focus on pushing the project into a new level.

Nam shares his thoughts on Racism and White Banana.

ANTI(-) RACISM (-)
Two negatives don’t make a positive.

Stop (-) racism (-)
Fight (-) racism (-)
Anti (-) racism (-)
According to mathematics, two negatives make a positive. If only it was this easy for other subjects. I mention this as find it paradoxical if your trying to ask to happily accept another culture but your asking in negative tone, so mathematically using a;
negative (-) action to counter
a negative (-) behaviour and
expect (=)
a positive (+) outcome.
I ask this as my Norwegian friend inquired why we have all these signs that start with “No” from No loitering, No stopping, No standing and in other forms such as No smoking campaigns to Don’t speeding or will we fine you.  It puzzled him why our government was openly negative and actively promoting it. In light of this, it is understandable why its citizens would think in a similar manner. This raises questions such as “Is our culture predated on seeing the negative of a situation” and there is a precondition that its citizens will always act in a destructive manner. I hypotheses it may come down to a law with 10 rules but this conversation will digress into another topic that i rather not debate so I’ll keep on topic.
So I am intrigued about what would happen if this was reversed, what if positivity was the norm, our government promoted positive things and we acted accordingly. Instead of “Don’t” do this, you say “Do” this. So reimagine that you ask to happily accept another culture but asking in positive tone. This has been tried through international food day where you may dress in the local garb which i believe is counter productive but let me explain. I use the analogy of accepting another culture to making new friends because i believe there is no different and what better way to accept another culture by befriending them. To make new friends you start on a positive note and you find common interests.
I believe the situation for international food day does not work as it reinforces the stereotypes of cultures by simply highlighting that you dress and eat differently, you make your differences more prominent and if you think of making friends, you don’t talk about your differences, you try to find common interest. So my thoughts is that you should actively try to find common interest and start from there and then when your getting to know each other you can discuss differences about each others culture but to start with it, makes it more challenging.
Taking these insights and the opportunity to collaborate with Suzie for Rockers Surfers’ Summer Camp made a case to embody this into positive action. Inspired by the viral College Humour’s Gay men will marry your girlfriend video to play with the very stereotypes that circulate around gay men and subverting them to promote gay marriage rights. It was able to raise awareness in an unconventional yet entertaining manner, one that is absurd and the use of humour made the topic approachable though being a serious issue.
Image by Nam Nguyen
Image by Nam Nguyen
So accordingly our approach was to take this formula of humour and ridiculous antics and resulted in a surfboard that was prepared to look like a big banana with a hole cut so that one can pose with it. Not only was it successfully in visually drawing interest to passerbys as Suzie and I strolled along the beach, it gave an easy lighthearted approach to discuss that we are no different to white Australians though being yellow on the outside but we are white on the inside. Its an easy analogy and one that is memorable and the fact that we invited people to take photos with it, promoted the issue through social media with the handle #whitebanana. Its success is still unknown as it was our first trial but it definitely added a layer of approachability that you wouldn’t have if you started with stop/fight/anti racism.
Follow me on twitter for more ramblings!

@ManBackwardsNam

Next Monday, we continue on Part Two of The Summer Camp

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