Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Racism

I am not aware of ever being a victim of racism and it is quite unlikely to happen to me in the country where I was born and reside. But I have seen it and I don't like it. I imagine it is something akin to homophobia. Sometimes it is overt, sometimes very subtle and sometimes totally unintentional. If we are honest with oursleves, we will admit that there is at least a little racism in all of us.

Here are some of my observations and experiences.

You have only to listen to talkback radio in the last few weeks to more than once heard a statement from a caller that 'and the judge doesn't even speak English'. The callers were referring to the judge in the Corby trial in Bali. Actually, he can speak English and did so in interviews. But that is beside the point. Why would he address the Indonesian court in English? It is an Indonesian court, so he speaks Indonesian, Basa, or something like that. Talk about cultural imperialism.

A few years ago, I met up at Chadstone shopping centre with a friend from Hong Kong, ethnic Chinese of course. Unlike me, he has rich parents. and lived in Kew. He needed a repair to his watch band or failing that, a new band. Not your plastic band but a nice espensive gold band. We went into the jeweller together and although he spoke to the jeweller, and I was only standing by, the jeweller kept addressing me. That is as he explained things, he talked to me and totally ignored my friend. I am sure he did not do it intentionally, but it surely is a classic example. Older Australian guy with a younger Asian guy. I am the one with the power and the money.

I won't bother telling you of the terribly racist joke I heard in a gay bar, apart from that I wrote to the gay press editors and was published and the drag queen who told it on stage was mortified.

There is an instance that really cuts me. When Pauline Hanson was in accendancy, my Cambodian born work mate cried. He cried as he told me about the attacks on his teenage daughter on her way home from school. He did not mean to cry, the tears just formed in his eyes and trickled down his cheeks. They were only verbal attacks, but they must have upset her a lot for her father to know about it. She is now a doctor and probably overcharging us, just as do fifth generation Anglo Aussie doctors.

Racism is bad. Keep it for your own lounge room and don't talk in front of the kiddies.

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