Recently the team I work for decided to have a multicultural lunch. This wasn’t some corporate edict from head-office. We decided to do this because we wanted to. Our office is a microcosm of multicultural Australia. There are people from all over world; China, Japan, Algeria, France, Vietnam, Crete, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Spain, The Philippines, Canada, The United States, England, South Africa … there are even some Australian born people of Anglo-Celtic descent, like me.
The lunch was great. People brought in food from all different cultures. And the desserts were amazing too … I have to admit, I just had dessert for lunch that day. Many kinds. As I sat there having my second helping of cake, I looked around the office and saw all these people from all over the world smiling, laughing and having a great time. This, I thought to myself, is why multiculturalism works. People just getting along with each other despite our cultural differences. More to the point, people celebrating their cultural differences. Why then, I asked myself, do people always rush to judge Australians as being racist?
Don’t get me wrong. I know racism exists in Australia. Evil, nasty, deplorable racism. But these people only represent a minority of Australians. I firmly believe that the vast majority of people in Australia are like the people I work with. Accepting and curious about people from different cultures. So why don’t we celebrate this more in Australia?