Sunday, October 24, 2010

Passing White

I was watching Deadly Deportment on Landline just now. Basically it was about how young Aboriginal women in the area are being taught additional skills in the hope of making them more employable, and giving them the confidence to dress appropriately and do well in whatever job interview they go for. It was a very good program, and it makes me sad that they feel shame over dressing well, and things like that, fearing that they will never be good enough, that they will fail, and it will be worse than never having done anything in the first place.

Some of the women involved (as happens in any mixed group) can "pass" as white. In some ways this is worse than being discriminated against for being different, as many POC experience. The casual racism in Australia is still very rampant and alarming - as anyone who has been asked "What are you?" (not who are you, what) can attest. But it is worse when you can "pass" because, suddenly people are making these horrible comments, not about you, but about people like you, maybe your friends, all because they assume that you are (white) like them. And it takes courage and strength to say to these people, no it's not okay, you can't make those comments about these people, these are my people and you are being rude.

I can't say that I know what it is like to be Aboriginal in this country, for I am not of that descent. But as a half-Chinese person growing up here, living here, it is apparent to me that the discrimination does not go away. When someone makes a rude comment about Chinese people, and then turns to me and says "Oh, not you Julie", or worse, doesn't realise how offensive they have just been, because I don't "count" or "register" to them as Chinese, well, if I don't say anything, then I am shamed. Because I have just passed, and it feels like I have let the side down.

I want to be strong enough to stand up for my beliefs. Always.

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