Why Are We Afraid Of Standing Up Against Racism?

I’m no stranger to racism in Melbourne. As an Asian Australian, racist encounters have been a part of my life here for as long as I can remember. But I don’t remember doing much about this.

Over the years, I learned there are different types of racism. I’ve had insults about my non-Aussie accent and yellow skin thrown verbally in my face by non-Asians. There have been times where I met new people who immediately assumed I wasn’t Australian and asked, “Where are you from?” That is, there is direct racism and casual/everyday racism, one of them more subtle than the other.

Light zig-zagging over chess pieces. No matter our culture, we're all in this world together | Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction.

Light zig-zagging over chess pieces. No matter our culture, we’re all in this world together | Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction.

It’s not hard to spot either kind of racism. But it’s not always easy speaking up about either one, at least in Australia.

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When To Ask The “Where Are You From?” Question

As an Asian Australian living in Australia, I get the question “Where are you from?” thrown at me quite a bit.

When I get asked this, I pause: it’s a confusing question. Where exactly is “from”? The place where we were born? Where we live? Our heritage? One of my favourite responses to this question is, “I’m from three countries. Guess” (I grew up in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore to Chinese-Malaysian parents; see previous post). It’s also an intrusive question that demands a very personal answer, maybe demanding that we give our life story away.

A touch of kindness. A touch of kindness makes us feel at home| Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity.

A touch of kindness. A touch of kindness makes us feel at home| Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity.

We usually feel the urge to ask the question when get the feeling the person we’re talking to has a different story than us, judging by the accent on the tip of their tongue, the colour of their skin, the way they dress.

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Picking Up An Asian Girl. Being Asian Australian

As an Asian Australian girl who has lived Melbourne for nearly a decade, I’ve had quite a few local Caucasian guys hit on me.

These encounters are amusing and annoying. They give me the impression some Caucasian guys are attracted to me because of my ethnicity (maybe some have yellow fever). These moments also remind me of what it means to be Asian Australian, an Asian person living in Australia.

You never know what's ahead when you're in love. It's one big adventure | Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure!

You never know what’s ahead when you’re in love. It’s one big adventure | Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure!

On a recent winter’s weekday afternoon, I had one of those random encounters in the city. Two hands plunged in the pockets of my grey Target jacket, I settled down on one of the empty benches along the glass panelled sky bridge linking the Melbourne Central and Emporium shopping malls. Tired from window shopping, I gazed at the traffic on the roads below, and sensed someone sit down beside me on the bench.

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How To Make Your Dreams Come True

We all have dreams. We all want to tick the next thing off our bucket lists. Maybe we want to run a marathon, earn a degree or be a musician. It’s not hard to imagine all of that in our heads. In reality, it’s usually hard to get there.

Winding path, taking us to places beyond our dreams | Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag.

Winding path, taking us to places beyond our dreams | Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag.

One of my dreams is to write and publish a book about what it means to be Asian Australian, what it means to be different in the cultural sense and how I’ve come to be okay with this.

But writing a book and getting it on bookshelves doesn’t happen overnight. Dreams don’t happen overnight. It takes time for things to happen.

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Should We Work For Free?

“Does it pay? How much does the job pay?”

That’s the first thing my mum asks when I land a volunteer stint or get a job that pays. Coming from the average traditional-minded Chinese-Malaysian family, I’m expected to be a filial Asian kid, working for the money and supporting the folks in their old age.

The distance between dreams, so near yet so far. Buskers playing, working, for free | Weekly Photo Challenge: Between.

The distance between dreams, so near yet so far. Buskers playing, working, for free | Weekly Photo Challenge: Between.

Why we shouldn’t work for free, shouldn’t take up that internship or volunteer? When we say yes to working for free, we might be naïve. We might get taken advantage of, made to do “slave labour”.

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