All posts by stringstory

To strive for creative oblivion. Twitter/Instagram: @stringstory

The DERP project

DERP (n)
Defining. Everyday. Racism. Project

A creative and online project that plans to leverage the power of social media and intergrate “DERP” into the mainstream language, our aim is to have young kids arm them with knowledge and resources to deal with racism in Australia.


Videographer and sound: David Nguyen (Vantage Films)
Editor: David and Suzanne Nguyen
Writer: Suzanne Nguyen
Graphics and designer: Suzanne Nguyen
Animator: Nanweera

Special Thanks to: Daniel Reeders, Christian Tancred, Donita Hulme, Steve Nguyen, Richard Cooke, Ming Zhu Hii and Kate Larsen


[Mini-Workshop] @Lead to Achieve Youth Forum

“Being a refugee. I mean, I fear this name will stick on me forever.
And you’re alone and you feel you’ve lost ALL that you had.
And it is hard to build them again.”

“Racism as a new African Australian.”

“I want to learn English as soon as possible to improve my qualifications. Then I can change my life.

“Mental health issues that experiences of racism can cause.”

“Being mixed-race.”

“Paranoia regarding subtle racism – am I just imagining it?”

These were some of the thoughts shared by the young people during a workshop by The Two Chairs as a part of the Lead to Achieve youth forum organized by Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre last month.

These thoughts came from the young participants when asked about their fears and concerns about living in Australia.

And these thoughts were shared not only to shed some light on what are the issues currently affecting young people from multicultural backgrounds but also to reflect that – none of us were dealing with these issues by ourselves.



Many of us went through them — some of us are STILL going through them — which is why we need to look out for each other and support one another.

That insight and others were made during our workshop and keeping in line with The Two Chairs’ objective of talking about racism in a creative way, we tried out different ways that day to discuss and explore the old topic of racism, hoping that by the end of the workshop, not only do we get to understand what racism IS but also how racism can FEEL like.

And hopefully we did manage to do that because we did activities that involved ropes, boxes, papers and surprise bags and all of those things got us moving around, having fun as well as meaningful discussions about fears, concerns, race, racism and the future as migrants; as refugees; as racial minorities; as Australians.


Continue reading [Mini-Workshop] @Lead to Achieve Youth Forum

The thing I call Everyday Racism Jabs

This is just a glimpse of my everyday life as an Asian Australian:


Day 1
As I walked along the train’s platform, a guy walks past and says “Wo Ai Ni”.

Jab translation: It’s Chinese and translates to “I love you”. I have a Vietnamese background and I’m not Chinese.

Day Two
A new acquaintance asks me “Where are you from?”
I replied with Sydney and she follows up with “No, no… where are you really from?” Continue reading The thing I call Everyday Racism Jabs

This Week In Racism


This week in racism, actually more like on Monday 18th of September, news about racism overwhelms social media and the news:

ONE: Black isn’t quite local enough

“There are a lot of white customers at the café and I think the clients here want local people, not African people” says the Forbes and Burton’s owner.

A barista was refused a job on the basis for being ‘black’ and not ‘being local’. Continue reading This Week In Racism

ARC #1: How Racist are we?

A month ago, the four of us met together to discuss a delectable ‘feelpinion’ by Mark Sawyer and responded to “How racist are you?”

On my part, I like to say that in Australia there is a high level of low level of racism, which includes micro-aggressive racism. Not only is the piece written by middle class White Australian who never been exposed to racism, he really believes that the type of overt racism does not exist. His piece is a reflection of a overall attitude of Australia’s perspective of race and racism. Sawyer’s view is sadly lacking of depth and understanding. Even his examples only demonstrate how ignorant he is. In an ironic twist, he talks about micro-aggressive racism but doesn’t realise that he has written about racism.

I walked past it when a man in Spain told me he was ‘‘working like a black’’, when an old girlfriend asked whether I still ‘‘smoke like a Turk’’ and when a fella in country NSW offered me his ultimate accolade: ‘‘Thanks mate, you’re a white man”.

~Mark Sawyer

Each of us have very different backgrounds and experience. But we banded together to discuss and counteract some of negative views found on media.

I wonder if there is a way to help raise racial awareness in Australia and recognise that racism does exist. One step a time, we can only hope

– Summary written by Suzanne Nguyen

Speakers in the video:
Cultural and social commentator. Found of @IndigenousX

Saman Shad, Storyteller and writer for Guardian Australia and SBS.

Gary Paramanathan, organiser and founder of ‘Colour Fest’, a diaspora and migrant film festival.

Artist and online community facilitator, founder of @TheTwoChairs

Blog of the week: Dating As An Indigenous Woman

Mikey, 30. Full of charm…

I honestly thought today’s foray into the blogosphere would be about Invasion Day, the date that we as a nation “celebrate” the Invasion of our traditional lands and the subsequent massacres, attempted genocide, racism and all that loveliness that is supposed to fill us with patriotism.

I guess I will get to that in another post and will fill it with a whole host of links because quite frankly, I have some deadly friends who have ways with words that constantly inspires me.

However, I digress. It was Lakota man Simon Moya-Smith’s article in Indian Country today that inspires today’s post.

As you’d be aware by now, I’m single for the first time in nearly 10 years. It’s a bizarre experience that is constantly filled with firsts.

The first post-relationship kiss.

The first account creation on an online dating site.

The first time that you are confronted with the idea of dating outside of your race in nearly 10 years.

While other races will have their tensions relating to whether or not they should “date within their race”, in my opinion, we, as first nations people – a group of people who were, for hundreds of years, a group of people who were seen as nothing but a species to be eradicated, feel the pressure far more.

Whether it is verbally acknowledged or something that we quietly hold within ourselves, our fears to preserve our culture and our cultural lines are incredibly strong and of course, when it comes to dating and having children, it at least factors into my mind.

I remember being an awkward teen pouring over her diary dreaming of my ideal man.

He would be Aboriginal, maybe a little darker skinned than I, with the connection to country and traditional stories that I missed out on.

He would be smart, compassionate and between the two of us, we would raise this next generation of proud and strong Aboriginal children who didn’t have to face the things that our ancestors had to face.

Since awkward teen Ebs created this myth of her perfect man, I’ve dated a series of imperfect ones. There was the first boyfriend, a White boy who I still think may be in the closet. The older Aboriginal guy who promised the world but never delivered. The two Sri Lankan immigrants who will go on to live happily ever afters with someone else. The lying Moroccan-Italian player who I’m not gonna lie, received a fairly decent smackdown sisterhood style after the group of lovers kept increasing exponentially.

I recently thought that I may have found the guy that 14 year old Ebs created in her head (well, he ticked most of the boxes) but that may have not meant to be so I’m back reluctantly playing the field again.

While I don’t mind dating non-Indigenous men, it does become tiresome to be someone’s introduction to Indigenous Australia. I jokingly tweeted today that if you’re gonna make me give you a cultural awareness training session, my consultancy rate is a whole lot larger than just the cost of dinner…but it’s kind of true.

I remember reading my tidda Anita Heiss‘ book Not meeting Mr. Right  in my early twenties and retrospectively now see my earlier self not getting the full gravity of her words and her experiences. That being, the experience of having to not just be a woman who’s dating.

To be an Aboriginal woman who is dating is to be a contemporaneous museum piece, a novelty, a wealth of knowledge on all things Indigenous. A 2 dimensional book full of all the answers to your frequently pondered questions on Indigenous Australia.


While I still hold out hope that my Mr Right will be the Prince Deadliness of Charming Mission that I dreamed up all those years ago, I am incredibly thankful that I have twitter, this blog and twiddas like Wimlah and the Harlot Blogger who not only get this landscape that I’m navigating, but are navigating it also.

– Written by Ebony Allen.

This post is part of NAIDOC week and is originally from Ebs’ blog, where she is conducting her own #30DayTinder experiment. Follow and read her adventures @Ebswearspink

“Exotic” is Not a Compliment

ImageI cannot begin to tell you the countless times I’ve been told I’m exotic by numerous people, at various occasions: friends at university, festival-goers, conference delegates, teachers at school, retail assistants, doctors and even fellow commuters of public transport systems. Apparently, I’m not beautiful by mainstream beauty standards; I belong to the foreign, exotic variety.

Exotic is not a compliment. It’s an otherising mechanism reserved for the foreign, strange and unfamiliar.

It’s a microaggression.
~Amena Ziard

Continue reading “Exotic” is Not a Compliment