This Week In Racism

[Australia]

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:
@LukeLPearson
Cultural and social commentator. Found of @IndigenousX

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

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

@StringStory
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.

Yawn.

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

Happy Refugee Week

Vietnamese refugees 1979[4]
Vietnamese ‘Boat People’ who arrived to Australia by plane
Both of my parents are considered boat people. They escaped the war in Vietnam and sought refuge in Australia. Thanks to them, I can now say that I’m an Australian-born artist contributing to society. Still I want to challenge something: why is it that we fear the arrival of immigrants? Oops, let me rephrase: why are people so blardy scared of boat people?

Remember, my parents are boat people, does that make them illegal? Technically, they are labeled as refugees. Due to the Vietnam War during the 1980s, an overwhelming humanitarian effort helped the displaced Vietnamese refugees resettle around the world.

boat-trimmed

My mother’s boat story

Under the cover of the night, she made contact with the boat captain. She told me that she was slightly acquainted with him, so she was able to receive passage. The tiny boat was overcrowded, what was meant for 5-10 was filled with closer to 50 frightened people. It wasn’t long before the engine broke down. Did I mention pirates came and took what little they had? They floated for just under two weeks before a Malaysian ship saved them. She stayed in a refugee camp for almost two months before she was given permission to fly to Australia. Long story short: she escaped by boat to Malaysia and flew to Australia.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND ASYLUM SEEKERS

Asylum Seekers are not ‘illegal’ boat people
Today the word refugee has negative connotations. There’s a misconception that asylum seekers are seen to be illegal arrivals to Australia. Just because they are missing certain papers doesn’t mean they are not trying to escape from persecution from their homeland. Again, lets emphasise that refugee are not illegal under international law. Article 14  of The Universal Declaration states “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” 9 out of every 10 ‘boat people’ are eventually found to be genuine refugees. So what’s the difference between the experiences my parents went through and the ones today? The answer is: there is no difference.

Refugee (noun)
They are people fleeing from persecution, usually running away from being persecuted by their own government

Xenophobia and the boat factor
Largely our xenophobic attitude has allowed us to quickly join the ‘stop the boat’ wagon and contribute to our ‘we’re  full’ attitude. The propaganda ‘stop the boats’ campaign doesn’t help, it only adds to the fuel of belief that they are a threat to society. I believe that the seed of doubt was planted long before the anti-boat campaign and pre-SIEV X incidents. Or the way we dealt with ‘Yellow Peril’, where the arrivals of Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush days were seen as an economic threat. We only have to look at the White Australian Policy to realise that we haven’t quite gotten over the the perils of newly arrive immigrants.

Asylum seekers are not ‘queue jumpers’
There is no such thing as a queue for asylum seeker to patiently line up and escape from persecution. In Iraq and Afghanistan, there are no queues for people to flee or ‘jump’ from. Without any diplomatic representation in these countries, standards for refugee request and process don’t exist. Few countries between the Middle East and Australia are signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, so many of are forced to continue their travels to another country to find protection.

Positive contribution by immigration 
Immigration is very much a focal point of life in Australia, it is worth look at some of the benefits of immigration for Australia:

– Economic benefit: We still are relatively small population and readily available skills are in short supply. With the example of the mining sector, we would be near as powerful today if it was not for the every growing influx of skilled workers from overseas.

– Cultural diversity: By celebrating cultural diversity, we have open up a whole range of new opportunities, including trade, education and investments. Also, we only have to walk on the streets to find a range of awesome and amazing diverse range of cuisines.

Happy Refugee Week
I digress from the main topic; originally I wanted to highlight Refugee Week. I wanted to write a story about my parents’ refugee story and I realised that there are more issues that are in place. I feel a slight pain to hear of the plight of asylum seekers in detention centres. There are many times that I wonder and thought to myself, that could have easily been my parents’ story too.

I know I’m lucky to be where I am now, to write and share this is something that only happened because my parents escaped and found refuge in Australia.

So yeah, happy refugee week.

 


Suzanne Nguyen is an artist and story collector. She is currently building a collection that explores race and racism in Australia as part of @TheTwoChairs.

 

Indian Film Festival – Special events and live tweeting

IFFM Queen

The Indian Film Festival is a Victorian Government initiative that aims to strengthen cultural ties between the Indian Film industry and Victoria. Currently in it’s second year, the program extends to film, dance and master classes.

Together with the Australia India Institute, the Indian Film Festival is hosting a talk with Konkona Sen.  Konkona Sen has appeared in both mainstream and arthouse movies in three languages, including the film the Film Festival is closing with on Sunday.

Topic: Arthouse v. Mainstream
Location: Satyajit Ray Memorial Leture
Time: Tonight at 6pm
Booking and details here

Also, Live-tweeting the event on @TheTwoChairs is Benjamin D. Skevofilax.

The festival closes this weekend with Gayonar Baksho, a comedy drama about a jewellery box handed through three generations of women. The screening is on Sunday 11 May from 7:30 at Hoyts in Melbourne Central. Tickets available here.

Konkona Sen has appeared in both mainstream and arthouse movies in three languages, including the film the Film Festival is closing with on Sunday.

Benjamin D. Skevofilax is a Melbourne based writer, independent filmmaker and cinephile with a passion for films and multimedia storytelling from countries around the world that explore how diverse and creative our world is and how we can encourage and incorporate more diversity into our lives and entertainment.

Live Tweets: Hotham Community Forum

Yesterday night,  Azlan Petra (@azlanpetra) sat on @TheTwoChairs and live tweeted at Hotham Community Forum for the proposed repeal to Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

The live tweets showcase the voice of many concerned communities who are affected by the proposed changes. The federal government focuses their sight on the ideals of free speech but are blind to the realities  of the people who experience racism and racial vilification in their lives. Continue reading Live Tweets: Hotham Community Forum

Asian Women Are Not Accessories

So, Arvil Lavigne goes out blazing with ‘oriental’ glee and went out with a Hello Kitty bang.

There’s no link for you to watch the terrible cultural appropriation, I rather not waste three of minutes of your life. There’s no need for you to fume and cringe. All she does is sing (in an slight ‘Asian’ tone) ‘arigatou’, ‘hello kitty’ and ‘kawaii’. It’s really not that cute. Continue reading Asian Women Are Not Accessories

WAYF: I’m Not Your Exotic Zoo

This is a typical conversation when you meet someone new:

White Person A: Where Are You From?
White Person B: I live down the street.

And this is my typical conversation when I meet someone new:

Person A: Where Are You From?
Me: I live down the street.
A: No, where are you really from?
Me: I’m from Melbourne.
A: Nooooo, I mean where are you really from?
Me: Fuck you, I’m not your zoo.

Many have argued that I’m being overly sensitive and that they just want to get to know me.

Fuck you, I’m not your curiosity’s sake.

Continue reading WAYF: I’m Not Your Exotic Zoo

Discussing and Collecting Stories about Racism in Australia