Our country’s “third or fourth” favourite Asian-Australian comedian, Michael Hing, has a new show on our small screens and it’s called Where Are You Really From?
It’s a top notch question that a lot of us are no stranger to. Even Michael, who says his family’s been in Australia for over a hundred years, still cops the question on a regular basis because his physical appearance isn’t stereotypically ‘Strayan.
The question comes in many forms, for example:
“How long have you been here?”
“Where’s your family from?”
“Where were you born?”
Not to say these questions are always bad news but combine it with a particular tone and facial expression and you know what we’re getting at here.
Just like his family, Michael’s keen to explore how other migrant descendants respond to the question “Where are you really from?”
So with such a rich history of multiculturalism, Michael headed into rural Australia in search for answers. Throughout the series, the comedian will talk to descendants of Chinese, Sikh, and South Sudanese migrants.
In tonight’s premier episode, Michael travelled to Bendigo, Victoria. In the mid-1800s during the gold rush period, Bendigo’s population was 20 per cent Chinese because of the miners and merchants who chose Australia as their home. Today, Bendigo proudly embraces their Chinese culture and history with the Golden Dragon Museum and Joss House Temple educating locals and visitors of their history of Chinese settlement.
But Bendigo hasn’t always been like this.
Michael talked to a number of Australian-Born-Chinese and mixed-raced individuals about growing up in Bendigo. To no surprise, the five-word question brought up memories of racism, identity, and integration.
One of the Bendigo locals Michael talked to was Anita. When she was a child, Anita remembered the time her white fence was spray-painted over with a giant Swastika. Anita wanted to erase it immediately but her father Russell, disagreed. Russell didn’t want to give into the racists so the Swastika remained on their fence for ten years which Anita admitted made things awkward with any potential boyfriends.
Now, with two daughters of her own Anita told Michael of the time her eldest daughter first experienced racism at school:
“When my daughter was in Grade 5, she experienced her first time of being called “Ching Chong”. She came home and she was like, ‘Mum, Mum, what does “Ching Chong” mean?’ I was so happy! I was like “Yes. It took til Grade 5, it wasn’t at Prep!”‘
This is admittedly sad but oddly positive because as Anita says, “it wasn’t at Prep”.
You can watch the snippet below:
“When my daughter was in Year 5, she experienced her first time of being called ‘ching-chong’. I was so happy it took until Year 5 to happen”. #WhereAreYouReallyFrom pic.twitter.com/j8iZRJTnhe
— SBS Australia (@SBS) June 8, 2018
Since the first episode aired, a lot of Asian-Australians have taken to Twitter to share their own experiences of the ugly question and praise Michael for shining a light on their stories.
First time I was called ‘Ching Chong’ wasn’t until age 17! After I’d moved from country WA to the big smoke in Perth for Uni. #WhereAreYouReallyFrom https://t.co/M0hAyzeSzX
— Sulin 🌈 🧴🤲🏼 😷 (@hossieho) June 8, 2018
I’m sad, amazed and overjoyed watching #WhereAreYouReallyFrom – love the community parade in Bendigo that transcends: skin/hair colour; accent. Identity may be influenced by what we look like, but who we are is so much more. Thanks @hingers and @SBS
— John Hingston (@Jupurrula) June 8, 2018
As the token Chinese kid from Hong Kong growing up in Penrith now with the redhead wife and kids who have a Chinese surname #WhereAreYouReallyFrom @SBS struck a heartfelt chord. Bloody great job @hingers you have not brought shame to overachieving Asian stigma!
— Donovan Cheung (@DonoAmMe) June 8, 2018
#WhereAreYouReallyFrom @SBS and @hingers hit the nail on the head. It doesn’t matter what you look like. I should introduce him to my cousins. They have Scottish, German, Italian, English surnames and are still part of the Chinese family clan in Australia.
— Danie! Wong 💯❎ (@daniels_den) June 8, 2018
Loved that look at the Chinese in #Bendigo @SBS @TheFeedSBS Didn’t shy away from the past but celebrated the people & culture that helped build this place #WhereAreYouReallyFrom pic.twitter.com/jHE8M6zbwe
— Jo Printz (@JoPrintz) June 8, 2018
I’ll never forget the hilarity of a white girl screaming at me from a moving car in Tamworth’s main street, “Go back to China!” WTF. I’m half-Filipino and was born here 😆 it was hilariously stupid #WhereAreYouReallyFrom
— Lyndsay (@lyndsayj) June 8, 2018
You can check out the trailer for the show below:
‘Where Are You Really From?” airs Fridays 7:30PM on SBS. You can catch reruns on SBS on Demand.