If we’re Asian Australian, chances are we’ve faced racism as we live our lives in Australia. That is, chances are life is hard on some occasions because of our cultural background.
As an Asian Australian who has lived in Melbourne for most of my life, racism is something that I’ve experienced for as long as I can remember. Each racist moment I’ve experienced is memorable, unforgettable.
Racism and discrimination come in different shapes and forms. When we speak of racism, there’s the idea that a certain racial group, a certain skin colour or certain culture-specific traits are superior over others.
Gender and racial discrimination is something many women from Asian backgrounds face. It’s something we reluctantly and relentlessly put up with on professional and personal fronts all around the world.
Inequality. Favouritism. Sexism. Misrepresentation. These are the challenges women commonly face growing up Asian or living in a society where typical Asian cultural values, patriarchal norms and Confucian ideals are upheld.
As I wrote in this post Why Males Are the Favoured Sex In Asian Cultures, in many Asian cultures often women are seen as either passive or overbearing, and all round less capable than those who are born or endowed with certain contrasting biological traits. In many Asian cultures, ‘boys over girls’ or ‘man over woman’ is often how the mentality goes at home, at work, in social settings and countless situations in between.
Race. Ethnicity. These are two words that seem similar. But they are two words that mean different things.
When I studied cultural studies at university, the terms ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ often appeared within academic texts that I read. The more I read about these two words, the more I realised they are more complicated than they sound.
Commonly, ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ encompass grouping and categorisation. But each word is its own concept. As people and culture change, history and stories rewrite themselves; each word builds upon lessons of the past and revelations of the present.
As someone who was born in Australia and has lived here for most of my life, some stereotypes, myths and perceptions about Australians ring true. And some don’t.
Australia is a diverse country, with the outback and city side by side as I wrote in this blog post about the geographic land of Oz itself. Naturally, Australians are a pretty diverse bunch in general, diverse in terms of what they like, the way they choose to live their lives and who they chose to be.
Time and time again, some of us get the question, “Where are you from?” We might dislike this question, or we might not. It’s a matter of perspective, or rather how we’re feeling in a moment in time that we decide if we like or hate the question there and then.
Chances are if we’re migrants, immigrants, refugees, third culture kids, expats or find ourselves part of a cultural minority community (think an Asian Australian in Australia, an Asian American in the States, we’re much more likely to hear the question. So too if we’re some place where our skin colour, accent or hair style sticks out from the rest.
A while back I wrote a blog post on the different answers to this question. It’s a question carrying quite a few assumptions, a question I’ve been asked all my life as an Australian-born Chinese living in different countries such as Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. Sometimes it rubs me the wrong way. Sometimes it amuses me.