“We are setting up a new mothers [sic.] group catering to Indian Mums (Indian origin, Born and raised in Australia & elsewhere, NRI’s etc.)… Optimally, you have children aged between zero to six years, however, all are welcome. If interested, please email Indian mums.“
The intention was purely innocent – a lonely mum hoping to connect with some women of her culture posted the above message on a Sydney-based mothers’ Facebook group with over 7000 members.
But some mums didn’t see it as innocent.
They found it to be offensive, racist, and an attempt at segregation.
It culminated in a race-based storm which has been brewing over the past few days.
It has seen mothers slinging verbal arrows laden with terms such as “racist” and “xenophobic” at each other.
It has seen anonymous emails sent and tears spent.
It has seen over a hundred comments in 14 hours.
Insults are flying and emotions are high.
One woman immediately posted this:
I’d love to join too but unfortunately I’m 9th generation Australian, and therefore excluded from this group. I was however thinking about setting up an “Australian” group, which included people from EVERY country, because exclusion by race isn’t acceptable.
The barbs started flying – many leaping to the defence of the original poster.
Sometimes forming a group is more about making people feel at home and less about exclusion. I love being an Australian and love everything Aussie. If given a choice would never go back to India but I miss my country.
I understand the intension behind the post but if I put up a post about forming a white English only background Australian group, many people would be up in arms.
This particular comment received an amazing number of ‘likes’.
The original poster says she then began to receive anonymous racist emails and threats from mothers in the group.
Tensions got so high she was forced to write a statement defending her idea to start the Indian mother’s group.
I have received a multitude of objections raised about my desire to form a group for… Indian Mums. In particular that I am trying to segregate myself from Australian culture.
The mother wrote that despite her son being brought up as an Australian citizen she wanted to associate with people who share a common heritage.
Occasionally I want to speak my native language and celebrate my own cultural events with my son. Hopefully I can allow him to retain a small link to his heritage. I do not think I should have to, nor do I intend to, apologise for that.
Over 100 comments later, the furore culminated with a post calling for a separate “Australian mothers group”.
We are setting up a new mothers group catering to Australian Mums. (UK origin, born and raised locally and preferably 5th generation or more) Contact me for details.
Whether tongue-in cheek or serious the second idea for a group was so offensive it was removed by the group’s administrators.
It now looks like the original group will go ahead – with support from the majority of this Facebook community.
But the concerning number of ‘likes’ to the inflammatory comments should have everyone questioning whether Australian society really is as accepting of other cultures as we like to think we are.
What do you think? Is it offensive to non-Indian mothers to start up such a group? Should mum’s be allowed to have “Australian mothers groups”? Or are these mothers just picking a fight for the sake of it?