Episode #4: “Yes, but where are you really from?”
Here continues our series of “10 signs you might be casually racist”: in this episode we hear about one of the most casual, and seemingly innocent questions can have deep racial connotations.
The reason the question “but where are you really from?” is racist is due to the history of immigration and naturalization in Australia. There is a myth about the Anglo-saxon as the true native of Australia, therefore, the true Australian. Everyone but the British were intentionally kept out with strict planned migration. This changed when the Great Depression (1930s) and Second World War (1939-1945) lead to high death rates and low birth rates, and slowed migration.
In the end Europeans were encouraged to come, many of them being DPs (Displaced Peoples) from the War. Those from other countries in Asia, the Pacific, Americas (unless of European heritage), Africa and the Caribbean (even those they were British subjects or citizens) were still barred from emigrating to Australia.
Anyone not found to be European (with favour towards Baltic states and Northern Europeans) was classified as an “alien” amongst legal and political terminology. While these were attitudes that ended 40 years ago, they are still in the very recent history of Australian society and therefore, still find their ideas (even subconsciously) within the psyche of the nation.
If you would like to read more about the issue we suggest White Nation by Ghassan Hage, Orientalism by Edward Said, and any book on Australian immigration by James Jupp.
“Justice is what love looks like in public.”
What could you expect from an Evening with Dr. Cornel West? He is a man who is a theologian, philosopher, poet, author of 20 books, and a love warrior. His real, truthful and revolutionary philosophies reverberate in the changeable and mood swinging beats of jazz and blues greats of the 20th Century.
Dr. Cornel West opened with his most important point:
In the face of 400 years of being hated for the way [African-Americans] look the community has produced the ultimate counter product: “love warriors.”
This is the ability to love in the face of animosity and is the most beautiful action one could possibly take. The death of restrictions of social concepts like gender, race, sexuality, the poor and wealthy allows for openness through that positive force of love. This is what makes governments so timid and frightened by non-violent movements like Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
The creation of love warriors is part of this three-point theory to create love that occurs in the social down-trodden and marginalized communities: At first grief and crying occurs; then there is silence; and finally, music.
Music and dance was one thing that could not be taken away from the African slaves taken to America. Even though their language, culture, food and children were altered until they no longer knew where they came from; they held on to what they could through dance, song and music. This is the case for many displaced peoples. Poetry and music are important parts of holding on to a culture and remembering history. This is a long tradition that is still relevant and important in our contemporary culture in reviving the untold history keeping this nation from moving forward.
What we learnt from Dr. West:
What Australian society can really take away from Dr. Cornel West is the point about collective understanding to create great social change. We should not white wash over the history of this nation. It is important to remind ourselves of the true facts and to teach them to the generations to come. The arts will play an important part in reclaiming that history and restoring it. The arts helps us listen to the voices of the marginalized, and most importantly of the Indigenous population of Australia to create a new identity. By embracing this, Australia would begin to move forward and become the harmonious country it is striving to be.
Australia: Are we ready to dance to the new sound track to reform this nation?
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