Right up front I’m going to remind/inform anyone who doesn’t remember/know that I am a white Australian. I have never experienced racism, and I currently have sufficient power and privilege to not suffer discrimination due to any other of my personal attributes (sexual orientation, relationship status, member of political groups, etc). This post is observational and any mistakes are my own.
Over the past decade or so I’ve noticed politicians and social commentators claim that multiculturalism is dead, or failed, as if stating such a thing makes it true. Generally these claims have been made after protests by one group, such as the Cronulla riots, or the more recent Sydney protests. I find it interesting (and odd) for two reasons. The first being that generally the countries which are used as examples of failed multiculturalism, or as having issues with multiculturalism are generally white-dominated Western nations, and it’s always about the white people (I’ll explain this more in a sec).
I’m not going to define multiculturalism, that’s done enough elsewhere, though Wikipedia has an article about Australian multiculturalism you can read here. I do think a lot of the debate about whether or not multiculturalism is alive, dead, failed, or successful has a lot to do with the specific definition that the person doing the talking is using, and that does indeed make a difference.
But anyway… white, Western nations… Just a hint, there are plenty of non-white, non-Western nations that are “multicultural”, where people of different heritages live together. Not all of them are perfect, but then again neither is Australia. I could use Malaysia as an example of a non-white, non-Western nation that has people of different heritages living and working together. Most of Australia’s neighbours are countries with people of multiple heritages living and working together – and many of these nations are non-white! I know, amazing to think that brown people can manage to live with other brown people (hint: not all brown people are the same). You might wonder why white people can’t live with brown (and all the other shades in between) people – and this brings me to my second point.
Far too many Australian politicians and social commentators are white men who demand that those from non-white backgrounds respect Australian traditions, culture, and way of life (without ever really explaining what that is). This idea that those who are from non-white backgrounds don’t respect Australian traditions, culture and ways of life (which falls apart the moment you introduce Indigenous Australians into the mix), leads to awful racism and bigotry as evidenced at the antibogan website *trigger warning (most of site) for homophobia, sexism, threatening language, racism, pretty much everything*
What you rarely see are white Australian politicians and social commentators demanding that white people respect other traditions, cultures and ways of living. Because really, living in a multicultural society is give and take. It is not demanding that one group’s way of life is superior or precious and cannot adapt, grow and change, that it must be set in concrete for all time. So I’m making that demand. I demand that white Australians, particularly those who rail about non-white people failing to respect Aussie culture, Aussie ways, Aussie whatever, start respecting all people, their cultures, beliefs, and ways of living.
This so-called Australian culture and way of life is rubbish. I welcome all people to share this wide-brown land of ours and to live in safety, peace, and freedom.
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