As I wake up this morning to Adam Goodes reports trending on my Facebook and Fifth Harmony’s “Sledgehammer” blaring in my head, I reflect on my own personal experience growing up in Australia.
Growing up in a country when you’re the minority, you’re most likely going to be faced with instances that are discriminatory and racist… At least that’s what I imagine for anyone that has been in my shoes. Whether you’re white growing up in a predominantly Asian country or you’re Asian growing up in a white country etc, I believe, us as a minority would have been subjected to the same experiences that are not so pleasant.
I love Australia… when positive things happen and I am proud of the work good people do, but then there’s the side I hate and fear most days of my life. So these Adam Goodes stories sparks the “is Australia racist?” debate and whilst some would like to think not, I believe this country still is.
I’ll tell you my memories growing up in Australia, some that have never been revealed because they paint this country in the baddest of lights. I’ve been called many derogatory racial Asian names you can think of from “gook” to “ching chong” to “slope”. When I was in primary school I never understood why people would call me these names. I haven’t done anything but be in their presence, and yet I was abused. I used to walk home from school and I was sometimes chased, having stones thrown at me, being called names and had to run home just to be safe. I used to take other routes walking home just so I didn’t get abused every day because I feared what would happen next. Why should any child be subjected to this and feel ashamed of their ethnicity?
As I grew up into high school, the racial taunts didn’t stop. I accepted it and never answered back…. Mostly because I was scared to. Not only was I going through puberty and trying to understand myself as a person but I still had to deal with constant abuse because people thought it was funny. I had no confidence and no self esteem because I lived in a community where it was acceptable to racially abuse people.
I really don’t mind people arguing about my experience. It’s my experience and you can’t judge on my feelings. My parents came here for a better opportunity. And granted, this country has given me that but still doesn’t escape the fact that I live in fear every day that I will be racially abused. I’m now an adult and still get abused… It may not happen as often as when I was growing up (as society has become more accepting), but it still happens. I moved from Perth to Melbourne and got told to get out of the country by a white man (because I am Asian). Excuse me? What? I’m an Australian citizen, I have a right to live here. Who are you to tell me to get out of the country? Just because you’re white and think it’s your god given right to belong here, do I need to remind you that your people stole the land from the original inhabitants? And on the other side, I have been had racial slurs from non-whites too. Australia, is after all, multi-cultural, mutli-raced and multi-coloured.
I’m glad these Adam Goodes articles shoved in our faces brings up the age old racist debate in Australia. Yes, the debate started about whether booing him was either racist or that people are booing him for his inappropriate football tactics but then again, it brings attention the uncomfortable conversation about whether Australia is racist. People don’t speak of it in general every day conversation but it brings to light a serious issue of racial vilification.
I hope to one day live in this country without the fear of being racially abused. I’d love to live safe and free because that’s my right as a human being… and as an Australian citizen.
I’m not excusing anything I say. I can say Australia is racist because I live it.