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.
We love living in cities because everything is literally at the tip of our fingers here. Shops and restaurants are just around the corner in Melbourne: Nike shoes to Nintendo games, Hong Kong yum cha to Spanish paella. Convenient, and variety is never dull.
In this world made up of so many cultures, there are countless of us non-Caucasians who have Western first and last names. But there are times when some assume we go by “exotic” names if we aren’t Caucasian. If we’re dark-skinned, some might think we’re a Muhammad or Suresh. If we’re Asian, our first and last names might be Lee or Nguyen.
When I was a kid, I celebrated the “Chinese New Year” in Malaysia with my family.
When we moved back to Australia seven years after living in Asia, to my confusion I learnt that the “Lunar New Year” is often used to refer to the “Chinese New Year” in Melbourne. Both phrases are used interchangeably literally everywhere here – on posters, flyers and billboards to name a few – time and time again.
Photos of food. Monuments. Flowers. Sunsets. You name it.
When a good number of us see that something we don’t see too often, we pause. Whip out our camera phones. Snap a photo of it. Or two. Sometimes three or more just in case the first two turned out blurry.
When our eye fancies something, some of us rush to snap a photo of it. Photo: Mabel Kwong
Then we upload the photos to Facebook or Instagram. Perhaps Twitter. It seems the cool, in-thing to do at the moment for anyone from Gen-Y regardless of race. Right…
Everyone has something to say. Everyone has an opinion. And we should respect all opinions and express all opinions respectfully because we’re all people.
Respecting the right to an opinion is the message Opinionated Man is trying to get out there through Project O, a blogging project collating responses to a series of questions on this topic throughout this month. It is a global project dedicated to exploring how various factors such as location, nationality, sex, age and cultural background have the potential to affect the formation of opinions.
Protestors sitting on the road and voicing their opinions at Swanston St/Bourke St. Photo: Mabel Kwong
Below is my submission (questions edited for brevity reasons) for Project O. It was first posted here. Check out the other submissions here – all very different from mine but well worth the read.