Aussies Are Sharing Stories Of Horrific Racism To Explain Why 18C Matters
SUBSCRIBE FREE TO PEDESTRIAN DAILY
That Bill Leak is being venerated as a Liberal Party martyr is astonishing as is. But the real kicker comes when you consider that this kind of legislative, policy-shifting urgency was only afford to a 61-year-old white racist cartoonist who died of a heart attack. That the same empathetic call-to-action wasn't triggered by the suicide of countless at-risk LGBTQI youth, or the documented physical harm and death befalling Indigenous teens either displaced or in custody makes the stomach turn."Cartoonists like the late, great Bill Leak will no longer have to look over their shoulder."
At the age of 10, I was at the local pool as a group of white boys held my head underwater, laughing at me for being Asian. #FreedomOfSpeech— Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw) March 21, 2017
Gold Coast, 21, man slams into my shoulder saying, "Fucking gook." I retaliated, but would've been bashed if not for mates. #FreedomOfSpeech— Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw) March 21, 2017
Former Senator Nova Peris contributed, sharing a small sample of the horrific things people have said to her thanks to her role as a publicly elected official.
Last week a white Australian said about a speech I gave, "You speak better English than me and I've been here all my life." #FreedomOfSpeech— Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw) March 21, 2017
It’s #HarmonyDay so I want to be a bit frank about race. I’m going to thread this so bear with me. Sorry in advance if this offends you.— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw) March 21, 2017
"I was in at my mobile phone provider's store today for over an hour. All the staff there are Asian (I live in a very Asian area). There were maybe 10 other customer group in that hour. 7 Asian, 3 White. I could overhear all their conversations. It was a small store.
All 3 groups of white customers berated the Asian staff. For speaking to them rudely (they weren't), for being incompetent (they weren't), for outsourcing customer care to the Philippines (not really their call). All stressed they "weren't being racist." I believe that 100%.
I accept dealing with customer service is stressful. I also accept maybe they would've spoken like that to white staff too. I don't know. But I can guarantee you it's much, much easier to be rude to someone you don't think is your equal.
Not one racial epithet was said, and nobody was being "racist." But this is racism. Racism isn't just for "racists."
Our politicians will argue a lot today about who has the right to say racist things, and whether it should be criminal. I've had my accent (do I have one?) mocked THOUSANDS of times. I've been told to go back to where I came from THOUSANDS of times. I've been called a 'gook,' 'nip,' 'ching-chong' or any number of racist names THOUSANDS of times. My beautiful, adorable kids will be called those names. I KNOW that because it's happened to every single Asian person I know in Australia. They'll be physically abused for their race, too. I KNOW that because it's happened to every single Asian person I know in Australia. I cried a bit typing that, but that's life.
The odds of me, or them, bringing legal action around it are next to nil. Amend 18C or don't. I truly don't feel strongly about it. But don't pretend it solves the problems we have in this country with race either way.
The racism I worry about isn't getting abused on a bus while someone films it on their phone. Or running into "a racist" in a dark alley. Most Australians aren't racists. Neither are the kids who will one day tease my kids for their race. The racism I worry about is systemic. It's under-representation in media, boardrooms, or the slightest inkling that kids with brown skin are less Australian than if they were white.
I'm lucky to do what I do. Maybe Asian-Australians of my kids' generation won't grow up thinking they need to be somebody's sidekick."
But the stories from ordinary Australians, posted today to Twitter, are downright harrowing.
I've been called a terrorist too many times to count. I've been stopped by cops + other authorities too many times to count #FreedomofSpeech— Omar Sakr (@OmarjSakr) March 21, 2017
I've been asked this question too many times to count:— Louise Liu (@youn_g_wheezy) March 21, 2017
"Where are you from?"
"No. Where are you really from?"#FreedomOfSpeech
90s: almost veered off the road w/ my Chinese Mum & Aunt by a group of white men yelling "go back to where you came from!" #FreedomofSpeech— Faustina Agolley (@Faustinathefuzz) March 21, 2017
One of my few Asian-background schoolmates was cast as a black character in a school play because he was "close enough" #FreedomofSpeech— Alex McKinnon (@mckinnon_a) March 21, 2017
my mum pondered whether an Aboriginal mate of mine was 'a half blood' and got insanely mad when I said that was racist #FreedomofSpeech— fakeed (@macaulaybalkan) March 21, 2017
Like last month coming out of local shops had trifecta - N word, go back, monkey. Bystanders were more shocked. #FreedomofSpeech— malcontent ms. (@malcontentms) March 21, 2017
Being told in an interview that I may not be the right candidate because 'Indians play politics' #FreedomofSpeech— Pradip (@pradiprn) March 21, 2017
I've had dozens of people call me Kon the Fruiteter thinking it was cute to compare me to some racist caricature of the oafish Greek man— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) March 21, 2017
But yeah nah "free speech". That's the thing that *really* needs protecting.
I'm a first Australian & was told to go back to the bush if I didn't stop my son throwing a tantrum in shops for a lolly. #freedomofspeech— Catherine's alt ego (@Catcoake1) March 21, 2017
Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty.