I’ve kept this one under my hat for a very long time, I’ve thought about writing it and deleted on several occasions because I thought it was a bit too political for The Mum Network but a few things have happened in the news, on blogs, online and in my life that have prompted this post.
One of those stories in the news this week was about people who flew the Australian flags on their cars were more likely to be racist. I’ve thought about it a lot and I’m not sure if it’s true but it’s a sad day if our flag is only flown by those who don’t stand for real Australian values (For the record, those flags are a little bit like the reindeer horns and ‘my family’ stickers in my opinion, just a tad embarrassing!)
Sadly, the comments I’ve seen online over the past 24 hours have confirmed that there are a hell of a lot of racists out there. There people are so intolerant of anyone who doesn’t look or speak like we do. This post isn’t about being politically correct, it’s about opening our eyes just a little and seeing that, if we look a long way back, most of us didn’t originate from Australia.
We’re all guilty of stereotyping and thanks to the propaganda we’ve been dealt on a lot of things; there are a number of people and races that seem to cop it more than most. The first are our Aboriginal people, the lack of respect we as a nation have for the original people of this land is just plain sad. Then we move to the Middle East. Since 9/11, there’s a lot of wrong information and fear mongering about the Middle East and Islam in our community. Of course we must protect our security from terror but putting all people from the Middle East into that category remains a huge issue in this country.And finally, Asia. Because a great deal of people who migrate to Australia are Asian, some people seem to love to have a dig at anyone Asian and sadly, it’s usually about appearance.
The life and freedom and the lack of over population our country offers immigrants from Asia is appealing but how is that different to the life it offered European immigrants 50,100,150 years ago? Let’s face it; most of us here are from somewhere else. If you’ve ever said ‘they shouldn’t be here’ or ‘go home’ or thought that someone else has no right to be in your ‘country’ then have a think about where your family originated from and think about how you would feel being told to ‘piss off home’ all these years later.
So are Australian’s Racist? Not everyone no. But it does exist and this is only one of MANY examples I could write about.
After making some enquiries recently with friends, acquaintances, anyone really, asking for recommendations for good builders for some work we needed done around the house, one acquaintance said the following to me:
“I’ll give you the number of the company we used, we looked around for ages but we managed to find company that only employ Australians because we didn’t want any of those Middle Eastern people or Asians doing the work, we only wanted Australian’s working for us because they’re more honest and we don’t like non-Australians”
Uh huh. That’s what she said. I WAS APPALLED. I had heard about people like this, I just didn’t realize I knew them.
I was so shocked that my mouth didn’t work fast enough to tell her that I wasn’t the right person to be saying that to. I have one brother in law, two sisters in law and 5 beautiful nieces and nephews who are Asian. In fact, there are now more people of Asian decent in my family than of European or English decent. I actually wanted to slap the woman but I controlled myself. I could not figure out what made her put all Asian and Middle Eastern people in a dishonest category.
A bit of background. My husband, his siblings, my children and my nieces and nephews are direct descendants of Sir Henry Parkes. Sir Henry is my husband’s Great, Great, Great Grandfather. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a wee bit of Australian royalty sitting across from me on the sofa right now (not very glamorous royalty but royalty nonetheless!).
For those who don’t’ know, Sir Henry Parkes came to Australia as a penniless English immigrant. He was a farm laborer, bone and ivory turner, journalist, newspaper proprietor and a failed businessman. But he was also a man with a deep desire to make him and his life better.
Sir Henry worked hard and he turned out to be an extraordinary politician. He rose to become Premier of New South Wales and was elected five times. He was the man responsible for bringing forward the bill of Parliament that created Centennial Park and gave it to ‘the people’ so it could never be sold.
He’s was an Australian statesman and is known as “The Father of Federation” (the most prominent politician who moved to make all the states of Australia ‘one nation’) and more commonly, he’s the bloke on the old $5 notes.
Why is this relevant?
Well my hubby is about as Aussie as a stereotype gets. He’s a beer drinking, motorbike riding, loves lambs on Australia Day and a die-hard Wallaby fan. He’s 6ft 5 and a white Aussie male. He even says ‘fair dinkum’ when we’re in the country. Even though hubby looks like an Aussie, speaks like and Aussie, he is an Aussie and has generations of Aussies that have come before him, he is the descendant of an migrant, a bloke who’s known as one of the most prominent Australian’s in our history.
I too am a child of migrants. But my parents came from a place called New Zealand. About 38 years ago. I was born in Australia and am a proud Australian citizen but I also have a very strong tie to my New Zealand heritage. I’m a first generation Australian, but no one ever yells at me to ‘go home’.
So how are hubby and I different to anyone else who looks a wee bit different to us? Even though hubby is about as close as it gets to our Australian history being what it is today, one of his relatives, Sir Henry wasn’t born here either.
Yes sure, it would be great if everyone who migrated to Australia could speak, read and write English as it would simply make their own lives easier when communicating as we’re not bi-lingual. But can you imagine being kept out of visiting France or being offered the job of your dreams in Japan and not being allowed into the country because you couldn’t speak read or write French or Japanese before you’re let through the gates? Get real people? Imagine moving overseas and wanting your family close to you and then your aging mother not being allowed ‘in’ because she can’t speak or learn the language because she’s too old to learn it. Or better still, what if the Australian Government legislated that you couldn’t pass your HSC unless you were fluent in an Aboriginal dialect – hmmm, that may shut them all up now! After all, they were the original people and landowners in the country, if we want others to learn our language, shouldn’t we learn theirs?
A friend of mine became an Australian Citizen on Australia Day. She proudly posted her Citizenship Papers on facebook. She’s from Denmark and she asked our country to accept her as a citizen. I got goosebumps when I saw her photos. I was proud. I was so proud that someone from another country felt strongly enough and loved our home as much as we did that she wanted to call it her own, We should all feel that way. If the first migrants weren’t allowed to come here and bring their cultures, their foods, their herbs & spices, skills in building, manufacturing, politics, their hopes and their dreams. We’d be a very different country today.