July 10, 2008

Racism and the underlying pain it can cause

Filed under: My Life — happychick @ 6.38p07

I know I’ve mentioned this before but it’s suddenly become quite relevant. I live in a predominantly Aboriginal town, well-known for its high crime rate, alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence and anti-social behavior, particularly amongst the Indigenous population.

Writing this, it is with all sincerity that I wish for it not to offend. In the current political situation regarding Aboriginal communities and child abuse in Australia, this is a very touchy subject, and I bring it up only because of an experience of mine this afternoon.

I have a great mate, Dave, who I’ve known for almost a year now. We worked together for a while and found common ground in our joint obsession with cricket. We talk pretty much every day, about cricket mainly, about Uni, about how annoying our parents are… Nothing too deep or serious, a joke here and a Ponting update there.

Dave messaged me this afternoon with a racial slur regarding blacks in our town. I never take these things to heart- I’m indifferent to the racial discrimination that goes on in our country, and my refusal to take sides may in some cases make me as guilty as those who discriminate based on colour. Either way, I found the comment odd because I was always under the impression that Dave himself was a “half-cast”, of sorts. That is to say, that he was part Aboriginal. Naturally, I asked him if my assumption was correct. His reply avoided the question so I asked him again.

This, folks, is where it all gets quite interesting. The reply that I got said “I never answer that question”, and I messaged back with a one-word, yet apparently powerful reply;


“You’ve seen them here, wouldn’t you be?” Now, I wasn’t sure how to answer. Part of me said yes, I would be humiliated. But deeper down, I knew I was way too proud- and not nearly that shallow- to be ashamed of any aspect of my life or my heritage. I told Dave the following;

“Their actions are not a reflection of their race, but of poor personal choice. You should be proud of your heritage- Aboriginal people have a lot to offer this world”.

“Yeah that’s true but people here judge others by race and colour and not by the person, which is why I don’t say that I am”.

He told me that his own grandmother treats him differently because his Dad was part Aboriginal- a Dad he hates because he’s an alcoholic.

Dave’s story is just one of many, most of which are far, far worse. I was devastated for him. I couldn’t comprehend disliking not only the shade of my skin, but the colour of my people. I couldn’t imagine wanting to hide such a huge part of me from the world.

Like I said, I’m indifferent- I try to be racially prejudiced as little as possible. I steer away from black jokes, and I attempt to treat all people equally. But I’m no campaigner for Aboriginal rights. I don’t condone their claims for compensation based on an event that happened decades ago. I don’t feel they deserve special treatment when white families in similar situations get very little.

Racism to future generations will be what the death penalty is to Australians today- simply incomprehensible. But for now, it’s people like Dave who pay for the generalizations of our community.



  1. Dear Ash,

    Im glad you’ve posted such a great article about the racial injustices that surround us.
    Being 1st generation Australian its hard for me to hide my ethnicity. there have been many times in my life when ive witnessed the racial abuse of people from my own race and it was in moments like these that i felt an Australian identity was the only one for me, it was times like this that i would picture the indian stereotype and be ashamed to be one of them. . There were moments where i would sit ackwardly in an unamed person’s car whiles their parents cheered the likes of Pauline Hanson, The most racist politition since Arthur Calwell, not realising that my family were immigrants of Asian desent that had been so brutally attacked by her vicous ideoligies. My parents left Sri Lanka because my dad and his family were violently attacked on grounds of his race, to come to a land where they were discriminated for their accents. When people ask me if im a hindu im quick to reply with a straight out no and deny any knowlege in the foreign religion, i fake pride in my ‘western’ beliefs of Jesus. i fear what they would think of me. a foreigner. a menace. an uneducated telemarketer.I have an Australian accent, support the cricket and live a tradition free life. dont get me wrong i love living in Aus, but the cruel treatment of some of my Asian customers from customers beind them in the line at the supermaket makes my blood boil. wearing a sari to the ball was one of the most proudest moments in my life, for once i felt like i wasn’t trying to prove something to anyone, but perhaps myself.
    Love your Bestie Always

    Comment by Anushka — July 23, 2008 @ 6.38p07

  2. I agreed with you

    Comment by Exceefesus — August 3, 2008 @ 6.38p08

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