Is racism is still very much alive in Australia?

It amazes me that this question still gets asked, and that the answer given is often not a unanimous YES despite all evidence to the contrary.

One way of looking at this odd phenomena is wishful thinking taking precedence over reality.
Could it be the case that we would prefer discrimination based on an individual or group’s ethnic and/or cultural heritage, even generations removed, to be an embarrassing remnant of a less enlightened time?

An article published today by world-renowned Australian neurosurgeon and son of Chinese immigrants, Dr Charlie Teo read to me like as a proud Aussie recognising and acknowledging the problem of racial intolerance. However the comments following the post are prime examples of the vitriol that emerges whenever this topic is broached.

Ironically a poll listed on the page shows that 21.63% of those that voted (218 individuals so far) don’t believe that racism is still alive in Australia. This despite several of the commentators requesting that Dr Teo should ‘go home’, along with a litany of excuses and justifications for the way certain Australians and visitors are treated here.

I wrote a response which I’ve published below, however I highly recommend reading both Dr Teo’s article and the resulting comments for an insight into ‘everyday’ Australian attitudes to multiculturalism.

Oh, and in case anyone suggests I should ‘go home’ for holding ‘un-australian’ views, I was born here and am incredibly grateful for that fact, just like Dr Teo.

Thank you for drawing attention to these issues in such a respectful way Dr Teo.
Many of us feel regularly embarrassed by the level of intolerance that often does seem endemic throughout this great land.

I have seen men physically assaulted with no provocation, woman and children spat on, told to go home either face to face or from passing cars, and often it’s as if no-one batts an eyelid. Worse still is the level of ignorance, excuse making and special pleading of those that attempt to justify such behaviour.

On the other hand I have seen great compassion and collaboration in so many projects of all scales from the smallest act of kindness to larger gestures of welcoming.

Of course there is good and bad behaviour by all Australians, regardless of their cultural heritage, ethnicity or skin tone. However by blindly discriminating, do the commenter’s here actually believe they are not contributing to this problem?
Yes of course other countries are intolerant of other nationalities, but how does this make it alright for such behaviour to exist here? Isn’t it better to strive to lead by example in this area as we, as a nation and hopefully as individuals do in other respects?

Australia is a magnificent country in no small part due to the hard work of people from many nations who strove to make it what it is today, not because the populace were complacent or afraid of progress. We are and have always been a multicultural nation and were this not the case we would not be enjoying the way of life we all seem to agree is pretty damn great.

To deny this is a failure of appreciation of our nation, and to deny a more encompassing, optimistic and reality-based Australia Day celebration.

Jayson D Cooke

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