Truthfully, I never had any intention to be part of the racist debate in the first place. Then I found something that blew my mind. On a furniture piece made during the 1950’s, there was this stamp and it reads: European Labour Only. During the White Australia Policy, the Europeans at the time felt threatened by the presence of the Chinese furniture makers. They offered cheaper labour and made affordable furniture. Basically, the stamp was a reminder for the ‘European Australian’ community to buy within their own heritage.
Yes, it is a dark and racial history of Australia and unfortunately, racism is deeply embedded into the fabric of our society. The Adam Goodes saga has further shown us what was hidden underneath us. The saga I am talking about refers to an Indigenous Australian football player who was racially vilified and was called an ape by a young girl. I even had a friend who came up to me and said, “I don’t get it, how is calling someone an ape, a racial slur?” I would also like to gently point out to McGuire; sure he stuffed up and said that Goodes would make an awesome ambassador for King Kong. (but) My friend’s lack of understanding and McGuire’s little joke is a reflection of Australia’s general attitude towards racism. We like to belittle other people’s race and differences, and to say, “I was only joking.” These so-called “harmless” jokes fail to address the problems around us and allow for future generations to think that it is okay to think like this. Racism is not something we are born with. Values are taught based on social conditions and surroundings. Certain attitudes and beliefs can dictate how we behave towards other people different to us.
Growing up with the Bananas in Pyjamas, I secretly believe that they are Asian-Australians. Ever since I have made that kind of connection, I have gone around and said I am a banana, yellow on the outside and white on the inside. Did I just open myself for being called a banana! Racism is a grey area, everyone has their own definition and boundaries of what it means to them. But hey, if I ever go around mocking peoples’ race or even my own kind, feel free to point at me and say, “That’s racist”.
As much as the media has given light to the topic, they have only added fuel to the fire. Isn’t it interesting, that the loudest voice in the debate isn’t necessarily coming from the indigenous Australians or any other nationalities, but from a bunch of Caucasians. Charles Pickering has more to say about vocal white people, here.
Racism has this recent awesome ability to go viral. Whenever there is a recorded racial rant, it quickly finds itself on social media. The latest video happened on the Sydney bus, where a 50-year-old mother verbally abused a schoolboy. Naturally, I put it on my Facebook page and shared it with the rest of my friends. The instant reaction was pretty angry. Calling the person various derogatory names and acting on our violence urges, doesn’t that mean we stooped to her level too?
Is there a way we could create positive seeds of action and thought? What could we do to arm ourselves with a positive message and give ourselves tools to help challenge racism? Let’s look beyond ‘ourselves’, could we surpass what we consider the norm and embrace differences?
It’s time we step in and take creative control. My new project, The Two Chairs, embarks on these very questions and pushes the boundaries of what we see around us. What is important is to allow for two individuals to sit down and have an open discussion, where they can relay their thought on race in Australia, but in a creative way. I am using The Two Chairs as a creative platform that will surpass all genres, from being an installation to live art performance. Would you like to sit on these chairs and share your thoughts? Or perhaps, you would like to join me and create a new way to outdo racism?
Story Collector | Artist