I’m never completely convinced when I hear Australian’s say “how ridiculous, we’re not racist!” There’s something in it that makes me kind of squint my eyes a little while thinking “Mmm, I’m not sure about that?”

I think it’s fair to say that a lot of Aussies have very different ideas of what being racist actually is, therefore it’s a tough question to ask of ourselves if we are, if the criteria depends on who’s doing the asking or the judging.

I feel like there’s that kind of outrage if you will, that different ethnicities living in Australia as citizens, working visitors, or even refugees, aren’t trying enough to disguise that they’re different.  And I don’t really see why they should? How dull if we all looked like, erm,  ‘Macca’?

It’s so easy for someone to say, and wow have I heard this one said, “yeah ‘they’ don’t even try to mix in,” which is easy to say but is it equally fair to say that most of us have gone out of our way to mix in with ‘them’?  Offer a smile or treat them, as we would do any new friend?

In the space of a week my racism radar went off a handful of times, which is more than it should considering we’re not yet ready to admit we should place more shame on those random, thoughtless comments that so many of us hear.

Take for instance me riding in the back of my friends’ car, while her supposedly well educated mother pipes up while listening to the news “Oh god, we should just get rid of ‘them’ all!  Look what they’ve done to bleeping France!  They’ve wrecked it.”

And then an acquaintance starts banging on in front of me, without such a flicker of “oh should I say this in front of her?” he says “I tell you what, have you noticed that ‘they’re’ popping up in every local shop?  And ‘they’ take forever to serve you; ‘they’ just don’t give a crap. There’s a hundred of ‘them’ in there, and only one of ‘them’ serving.”

It’s all very well for us to generalize about a certain ethnicity and how they’re assimilating into this country, but let’s look at the basics of whom and what we’re herding like cattle.

An ethnic group of people are generally a group of people who identify in many ways with each other, through perhaps country of origin, a common language, shared values, religion and even specific talents that may be learnt as part of that ethnic background.

I wonder, when we think about being accused of being ‘racist’, rather than so many of us becoming defensive, why can’t people not see that what makes up these ethnic groups, is very similar to what makes up every other family in the street? A history, a family and a desire to live a happy life.

Put it this way, I don’t share the same religion as most people in most streets I’ve ever lived.  I don’t expect every person I live near or share a community with to have a soft spot for Scotland, nor have the same respect for a piece of patterned cloth known as Tartan.

I certainly do not, expect the woman upstairs from my apartment to get the same sort of goose bump effect as my Maxwell clan might have when we hear the bag pipes crank up.

I completely accept that a person without my family’s Scottish background might well be thinking, “What the hell is that horrendous sound?  For bleeps sake, shut it off.”

I just wish that we’d all just swap that lazy, arrogant feeling of indignation for others who clearly weren’t born here, with a quick thought of “I wonder where they came from, and how life might be for them now?  Do they miss members of their family, or the feeling of fitting in?”



  1. No Amber I don’t believe that “Australians are Racist”! – Sadly there are no doubt many people that live in Australia that hold racist views, yet there are also plenty of people that don’t and I suggest that they / we would be by far the majority in this nation. I think its human nature to look at the horrible things we see happen in our communities, yet we often don’t notice equally the many good things that people do in our communities. If people want to see racism they will find it in the community, if people likewise want to see compassion and kindness, you will see that too if you look for it. Perhaps the question is Amber, do you practice racism or are you actually one of those people in Oz that are already actively being change they want to see in the world? I am tipping its likely to be the latter!

    • Jay you’re so right, I think so many of us are asking ourselves exactly that question “Why is it that I’m suddenly thinking and discussing Australian politics so much these days?” I’m the same. I wonder is it just that I’m older and starting to switch to talk radio because I want to know, or is it true what the media is saying and that we’re really up shit creek. Excuse the language. Of course it’s both, but especially the latter.I do think there is also a larger wave going on in the world where we’re all as a global community starting to ask more questions, and care more. Thank goodness for that.x

        When r u going to get your head out of your arse and realise that the vast majority of real Australians just don’t want these immigrants here. Now the bloody muslims want to put up billboards around Adelaide proclaiming Jusus is the prophet of Mohomed or whoever. Because of people like you who would tolerate such crap. They stuffed France , England, Velgum, Holland Germany, Fiji and a whole lot more they r not going to ruin my Oz.

        Oh yeah ,now the Muslim bastards are addressing rallies in Sydney telling the fanatic muslim fdollowers that Australians in Afghanastan are fair game and should be shot as invaders. Stick that up your arse bitch.

  2. I agree with much of what you said. I too find the prevalence of casual racist remarks emanating from otherwise reasonable people disturbing, even more so the fact that such remarks so often go unchallenged or are written off as some sort of light hearted joke.

    I grew up in the 70’s, when racism was an accepted part of Australian culture – it was fine to rag on Italians, Greeks, anyone not of Anglo-Saxon descent. It got ugly with the first and subsequent arrivals of boat people from Vietnam( deja vu time?)I admit that I went with the flow ( I was a kid, though that’s little excuse ). I had some sort of epiphany in my early 20’s; I forget the incident that prompted it but I remember clearly thinking “what right do I have to think I’m better than this person because of where I was born? None – he’s a human being, just like me “. Ever since then I,ve tried hard to be as non-judgemental as possible, or to judge by actions only ( I fail sometimes, still got a problem with multiple tattoos and people who swear constantly but I’m trying ).
    I’d like to think we live in a tolerant society, and that there’s been considerable progress since that time. Unfortunately, I’m despairing of this in the face of, in one extreme, the rancid bile as spouted by Anonymous to the other, a casual conversation such as you encountered. Neither of our major political parties seems willing to take a real stance against what could become a significant problem for our country

    Thanks for a well written and brave article.

    Anyhow, well and bravely written.

    • Thanks so much for some really great thoughts!!!! I did laugh at the comment about the multiple tattoo’s and people who swear constantly…ha ha. You know the thing is we’ve all got to admit that we all need to check ourselves on the judgement front alot of the time. I’m the same, I have these thoughts regarding something someone has said or done and then have to say “you know what, that doesn’t make you sound very clever when you judge like that Amber.” I think it’s crazy to think that when only as recent as a generation ago – ie like you, when I was growing up in the 70’s – the way we treated Italian’s and Greeks just to start with was really ugly. Thank god they’re thick skinned and have a proud culture because they really copped some unnecessary frowning upon by far too many parts of our society. But given that our parents generation, ‘the racist generation’, and us kids who may or may not have grown up taking on some of our parents opinions, are still out there having our say – how is it that people can say ‘we’re not like that now’. People don’t just completely shut off old school beliefs. They may tone it down a bit or think twice about where to voice them but the jokes and sly comments are still out there and everywhere. To use an analogy that may or may not work – it’s like back in the 70’s drink driving was something that far too many people did without thinking – these days thankfully alot of these people have been shamed into doing the right thing, or being educated as to the damage and danger of their actions. Hopefully the same time will come for racism in this country where the person doing the judging will be the one that is frowned upon instead. Every time.
      thanks again x

  3. Are Australian’s Racist?
    I don’t thing we intentionally mean to be, but yes we can be!
    I think to a certain extent it depends on our age and maybe even gender! The younger generations of today to some extent let their views be guided by politicians directly and through the media.
    Older generations like myself, have been able to make decisions based on our consciences without outside influences.
    As a male growing up in the 60’s and enlisting in the Army I was thrust into a mixture of races, where our very life may depend on the trust of other men and women not of the same heritage.
    I think if you live and work in the country of other cultures it makes you more aware of their way of life, particularly when you are the minority.
    I really can’t understand the fuss about boat people. They are people just like me wanting a better life than the one they have had to endure where ever the came from. More people come into Australia through the front door on tourists and student visa’s and deliberately overstay their visit than ever arrive by boat yet there seems little media attention or politician outcry about them.
    To date I have never seen a woman wearing a Burka, and even if I did I wouldn’t care. It is her right to wear whatever she wants in support of her religion. We don’t seem to have a problem with Priests wearing black robes with funny hats, or Greek and Jewish holy men covering their faces with full beards.
    Heaven help anyone who dare criticize the loyal footy fan going to his match with a face paint of the team colors. Isn’t their identity just as obscure as the woman wearing a burka?
    There seems to be a lot of fuss about nothing really important. Australia; today and forever more; are a multi cultural nation. Let’s just learn to live with each other in harmony.

  4. intersting topic and i do have a feeling that the same thing can be asked of every country in the world and you will find the majority of everybody is racist. As soon as you say they come from another country or origins, thats being racist. Just depends on whether you make it a negativity or not. I like to try and look at positives with people but when you get certain extreme opinions from certain people from different countries then the whole country/religion can be tanrnished and be all negative which isn’t fair.
    Like a few of you, i’ve been to a few different countries and they’ve all had varying opinions of different nationalities and religions too

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