Saturday, August 20, 2016
Every time I muse about moving to Hong Kong or China because I’m sick of the racism in Australia, someone always reminds me that there are racists in every country.
And they are right.
But you see, even though I’ll eventually be singled out in a place like Hong Kong or China for being too Western, it won’t always happen. Not right away. Not at a glance.
At a glance, I look just like one of them. If you only talk with me for a short time, you won’t figure it out. I can actually stand around in plain sight and not be a target.
I can’t have that in Australia. In Australia, I am always a potential target, and I always have to be on guard.
Most Caucasians I know don’t understand that. Even if they claim to, there is always a lingering question of whether it’s something they’ve learned or something they know; whether their empathy begins and ends with that conversation before going home to the comfort of their Caucasian lives. I don’t mean this as a negative, of course. I still believe in assuming the best in people, but I’m just pointing out the realities of their perspective.
I also know there is a lot of inherent distrust built into my perspective, and I suppose that’s an issue I have to deal with on my own.
I’m breaking with my norm of posting a self-portrait because of the woman in today’s photo. She has made me see past my own distrust. Her name is Andrea Myles, and in today’s news she stood up for others to a racist on a suburban bus.
In many ways, I guess the story is unremarkable. The difference, however, is that I know her. I’ve met her on several occasions and had as many conversations with her. She runs an organisation that fosters cross-cultural relationships between young entrepreneurs in China and Australia. In this picture, she showed up to a photography session for an awards ceremony in a Star Wars top and we nerded out for the afternoon together. She’s an absolutely wonderful person.
And she has lived in China. So she didn’t just learn what it means to not be able to hide your ancestry in plain sight – she actually knows what it means.
I know it would be grossly unfair to expect all of my Caucasian friends to do the same as she did if faced with that kind of situation on the bus, but it makes me so happy and proud to know that when the opportunity presented itself, she didn’t disappoint.