George Floyd’s death has sparked what can only be described as a global revolution against systemic racism and oppression. Australia – whose history includes the colonisation of First Nations people, 434 Indigenous deaths in custody since 1991, indefinite immigration detention contributing to 7 known or suspected suicides, and subtle racist norms disguised as Aussie banter – must recognise and dismantle the racism plaguing this nation, too.
As a person of colour and ally, I stand in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in the fight for dignity, justice, and safety.
I hope that my story sheds some light on the microaggressions – covert, normalised racism – that allow ignorance and white privilege to go unchecked; chipping away at the spirits of BIPOC and at its worst, manifesting into overt acts of racism that leave human beings face down, suffocated by the system, and unable to breathe.
Watch: Indigenous lives matter. Post continues below.
Let me run you through what growing up in suburban Melbourne felt like in the early 2000s.
I was a 7-year-old Indian migrant who wanted to fit in, in an area that predominantly comprised of European families.
I wasn’t allowed to go to sleepovers and didn’t understand that my parents were dealing with a huge transition, they didn’t trust other parents yet, and they wanted to keep me close in a strange new country.
I felt different and embarrassed because of my accent, clothes, traditions and smelly school lunches (I would love a samosa for morning teas now). So I tried my best to blend in to a group of ‘normal’ kids and downplay my heritage.
Here are some of the ignorant and insidious ways society tells young people it would be better – easier – to conform to an ‘Australian’ way of life, and minimise connections to culture.
I’ve been interrogated about what my ‘real’ name is on the assumption that all Indian people must have hard-to-pronounce names, perhaps stereotyped by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from The Simpsons.