As you all know I am a "young" black man and from Britain so I'm proud to be British Caribbean (which is the EU classification) however coming to Australia via SE Asia has actually made me evaluate what I think about myself, my race, other races and how certain countries may or may not have that stereotypical status of being racist! (Bernard Manning is channelling through me now)
Ok here's a question for you....... Is Australia really racist?
From my random outbursts of Facebook about "racist" attacks on myself, I'm not really taking it seriously, if I was, Facebook is the last place I'd be, I'd be gathering up anyone darker than a tan leather bag, any new age hippies and students and be picket-fenced around the offending individual or company. Granted the below waffle is based on me being in Sydney for 3 months so don't take anything to heart or condemn me, I don't speak for every black person and I'm not on a crusade either (peace out from Marvin Luther King Jnr or Marvin X)
Australia as you know is basically made up of 4 main races at present, the lucky white convicts that were sent here to survive the snakes & sharks, Mediterranean/middle eastern to escape wars, Zeus etc. (they are called wogs here btw, yes I know, wanted to get the golly wog doll out but resisted), Chinese/Eastern Asia and of course aboriginals /aborigines. Plus a sprinkling of other demographics. Now I have to say Australia is probably one of the few western society countries where they can claim they are on the whole NOT racist just racially unaware and uneducated, there's a slight difference.
Here's my little thought, unlike the UK, USA, and Europe in general etc. Australia really doesn't have much physical exposure to any other races particulary geographical and media. Even watching TV or reading the paper/magazine here you see a massive difference compared to the UK, loads of news on devastation, bushfires, NYE fireworks etc. and hardly any news on racial attacks/community fairs/ Pride/ Festivals etc. (and there's no page 3!!).
Countries where its multicultural and multinational can be seen with racist conflict/issues as people are exposed, taught, work, eat and live alongside other races/religions yet still pass judgement, misunderstanding and criticism despite the knowledge they have been provided and they can research themselves. Even then, the months before I left some UK family and friends were saying "it's racist down there" and "you sure you want to go there brown bear?" that in turn is a bit misguided to say the least.
Currently, I've been described as every group related to black other than "black" which is ironic and funny in a bizarre way
The most common used description for me so far is African American, but if anyone who has been or comes from here, the country was born and founded by Britain but society raised by the states while maintaining it's own identity. Since our brothers and sisters from across the pond have dominated the airwaves and stations here, the term they use now is to cover pretty much most black groups and Australia has adopted that. I just try to show them there's life outside USA and different races live pretty much anywhere.
But saying that, we've grown to be so politically correct as a race that we've actually gone wild with definition and labelling everything, that it’s become hyper sensitive. Even a "harmless" and outdated old skool stereotype joke or reference can be deemed offensive now, yes even Tintin has been pulled aside and slapped on the hands, snowy don't look! (I can hear my mum saying the famous Tintin intro line now)
Quote Time: one man said to me," I thought black was the offensive term, that's why I said coloured" (yes I'm in the 1950s down here).
I was annoyed However I have to say Oz is still a relatively new country, so diversity and education towards it is developing, most countries take centuries to develop racially and socially, look at America, I won't start on them I only have 30 pages on this website.
Quote Time 2: someone on fb said "you are the only thing they have close to African there, so be African" and this is true, I started doing my Kischwa impression now. I can't name this person on here unless they are called into the courts in Marvin vs Australia court case 2014 for evidence.
Anyway I've been here over 3 months and not really noticed any racist taunts/odd behaviour/ uncomfortablitiy to me on a personal level but have noticed a few situations.
Scenario 1 - I recently went to a modelling agency (yes stop laughing, ok stop..... I can hear you!) and the woman interviewing me was from a Greek background but very strong Australian accent and yet again all the terms came up. So I thought I play the scenario back to her, I called her a kiwi (I can strike this off my to do list now) and she got defensive, but to my amazement she didn't get upset because I said the wrong nationality it was because I didn't recognise her Greek heritage. So it begs to bring up the question, what is your racial/social identity and if you're of an ethnic background what is more important to you, your race or nationality? Does it even matter as we're all human, innit?
Scenario 2 - Oriental/East Asian people seem to be reserved/sheltered when it comes to integrating themselves when in public areas, for example I'm sitting on the train and most of the sits are gradually been taken up and I have a row to myself I notice loads of different types of people get on (ooh I see another black person, not so secret international head nod done). I clock an Chinese businesswoman in the aisle and she sees me, and now reader here's the scenario:
I have a 6 seater space all to myself most of the carriage is getting full, only other seats are a lone disabled chair which some OAP/Elderly person (if that's not the right "hyper sensitive" term for old bird, sue me) is struggling to secure. A scruffy white teen who puts a rucksack down in a way that it takes up 2 seats and a very portly looking asian gentleman whose spare tyre is taking up most of the second seat next to him, only Calista Flockheart could fit in this space.
Now of all those places where does she drag her laptop bag and bi-curious looking suitcase to, yes that's right, the guy who ate too much at the buffet of life.
It may not sound harsh but before she decided to breath in and suffer in silence, she momentarily looked at me and with one swift facial movement went from; professional "oh the FTSE is down, I'm having my period on the day of stockholder meeting but who cares I kick ass better than all 3 Charlie's Angels" to slight shocked, "good god black man or big creepy spider in the corner alert" look.
Let's just say it was a bit disturbing and an eye opener she not only avoided me but even did her best to stick with what was comforting to her (well obviously not from the position she was sat in). However it was a slight relief as I could put my feet up, wait a minute? What's that? A huntsman 8 legged freak, run for your lives!
I'd like to note this is not the only time this has happened to me in Oz or SE Asia, but this is the one I clearly remember.
So seriously, can lack of experience and exposure to other cultures still effect how you see people even in today's advanced times of technology, media and information?
Scenario 3 - I overhear a conversation amongst 4 bogans (that's the Australian version of Chav but they make UK chavs look like the Beckhams) saying "the dirty abs (aborigines) make this place look like a shit hole" one man gets up goes to the group and says "if it's wasn't for us white guys they wouldn't be in this position, we ruined their land, we introduced them to sugar, alcohol and drugs. So they developed these problems and besides you are no better than them, you live in the same block"
I can say nothing to that, I couldn't write a better way of saying "Oi, shut it you stupid slag"
Reflection on this I have noticed that I've been a bit reluctant to socially integrate with Australian born folk mainly because most of the people here that approach me in a relaxed normal manner are normally other Brits, Americans, middle eastern etc. Even if they are residents here, they've travelled previously while the rest are not only trying to muster the confidence to speak to me but try to work out where I'm from and without hesitation come to the conclusion without enquiring, which in turn makes me more uncomfortable.
However I'm a thoughtful patient man, so I've started saying to people in my unusually forward ways, "if you are not sure where someone is from, why not ask them? And if you don't know that country ask again or google it, yes google was invented to make stupid people instant geniuses or better yet just ask them their name?" (Teaching and an insult in one go)
I know most of this blog entry seems a bit obvious and redundant to people but it just fascinated me, take a person out of their usual comforting "educated" environment where people know you and of you and place them somewhere where you're known as the "exotic" one, you really do notice a change.
I have noticed a divide and racist issues with Caucasian/Chinese groups here, but I'm not going to comment on this as I'm from neither group and I'm eating my kung po & chips lunch, so who cares!
Ah, such a young, inexperienced Brown Bear I was back then, I just read this back to myself after nearly a year from writing this. In some roundabout way I still believe some of the things I wrote. After travelling to more areas of the world, I really don't see such an emphasise on race really.... to an extent. We're all different, we're all the same. I think your thoughts and judgements, should be based on individuals not race/group, but despite our best intentions as a race, we still have some notion of how we judge and see others as a whole.
I was thinking about stereotypes one day... as you do!
Heck, I recently went on a holiday to Italy (after travelling!??!) and my dad said that Italians were crazy drivers and to be honest, they are! The roads are insane, the people are passionate and the cars painfully powerful, strange combo.
As we all know, most stereotypes and jokes are no longer relevant. Some were based on truth but we all know a bit more than our previous generations. I personally laugh at some race based jokes for either its absurd inaccuracy or its actual based on truth. Check out old cartoons to see what I mean, look at Disney's der fuehrer's face or any looney tunes made during wartime. No Japanese people have buck teeth and glasses unless they are dressing up as ugly betty for halloween.
I don't think anyone really like sterotypes of either their own race or others, but it does still amuse a majority, as its what we've grown up with, but we are intelligent enough to see through them or avoid them.
Even reviewing some of the things I have written in this blog or said are expressed on a satire basis, not my actual views. I'm gonna say no more on this subject because every time I say something, an angel loses its' wings.
So lets reign it back in.
In conclusion, Racial Diversity in Australia - if it's not there, how are you going to know out about it....? Enter Marvin :) I think I wrote this entry mainly for my black peers who have never been to Oz, so in short, yes you can go there!!!
Right that was part one of Marvo's world, this is where I lose half my reading audience to gardeners question time, X-Factor reruns, A beano or the back of a packet of wheat crunchies!
Next subject....... Dating, Mating and Faking