Not racist, people are just curious.
Since moving to Brisbane, in 12 months I've had half a dozen people comment that I can speak English so well, and that I must have been born here. When I lived in Sydney, I don't think I ever had anyone comment to me about how amazed they are that I speak English without an accent.
I find it odd to be asked this question so frequently (but not offended) and I am assuming that it's because Brisbane is less multicultural than in Sydney.
Most people can spot I'm Asian but harder to pinpoint which Asian country. I've had people of Chinese origin assume I am Vietnamese, and Filipinos assume that I am Korean, and I've also been asked if I am Japanese.
Throw my surname in the mix and I get asked if I'm Indian, German, Dutch .....even when I am standing in front of them.
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10-07-2014 00:40 #11
10-07-2014 06:53 #12
I use Wog affectionately to some friends but would never dream of using curry or similar.
I'm an Australian citizen but practically every Australian I know doesn't consider me an Aussie as I wasn't born here, moved here as an adult, and have an accent.
Doesn't bother me as I identify as Scottish although am also proud to be an Australia. But in my experience living here isn't enough (and I have been here 10 years). I think if I had an Aussie accent I would be considered more Australian.
10-07-2014 07:24 #13
I get asked all the time where I'm from especially from patients of mine. Must be my exotic looks haha. So I say I'm from Indian, a real authentic curry not a packet mix one. Usually breaks the ice well.
wifey of hubby who is always away. mother of two girls who are always amusing.
10-07-2014 07:29 #14
I think the offence comes from the assumption that a person is not Australian because of the way they look; my "Australianness" has never been questioned - although my heritage has but not on a daily basis and not from strangers and I get how it could become frustrating.
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10-07-2014 08:22 #15
I'm often questioned about my "background" as is my husband. His background or 'heritage' is German/South African, and he was born overseas not coming here until he was in his early teens. However if you ask him what he is, he'll tell you he's an Aussie, as would I - I was born in Australia, and I'm pretty sure my family came out here on the wrong kind of boats! Ha ha. However I have an uncommon first name, which has Greek/Italian roots, and DID have a very common surname, but since marrying my husband and taking his surname, which is an extremely long German name ending in zki I am constantly asked what my "background" is. Note - not where I'm from, not if I'm Aussie, but what my heritage or background is, or where my name is from. I generally don't find it offensive. The only time that does ruffle my feathers is at work where I have to ask people to provide working rights - ie a passport, birth certificate, citizenship papers, visa etc. I've had a fair few cracks from ignorant people claiming that THEY are "Aussies", and shouldn't have to prove anything to me, how long have I even been here and why don't I go back where I came from. Riiiiiiight.
I couldn't paint you a picture of a typical aussie, and I think thats part of the beauty of being one!
10-07-2014 09:20 #16
To me, its more complex than racist/not racist. There's overt racism, which we're all pretty aware of... but then there are other kinds of privileges and disadvantages associated with race, presumed race or ethnicity.
I think that this kind of questioning about background can be either, depending on the mindset of the questioner and the way they go about it. In general, I don't think it's racism. It is, however, being treated differently because of peoples' assumptions.
Someone who is of Chinese heritage, but 5th generation Australian is much more likely to have their identity as 'Australian' questioned than I am, despite me being only 1st generation. That's likely because so many people aren't aware of Australia'a long history of NON-European migration, as opposed to some overt racism. That doesn't mean that it's not problematic.
There's more to ingrained privilege and disadvantage than whether someone consciously thinks they're better/smarter/more attractive/weaker/less intelligent than you based on your looks.
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10-07-2014 09:37 #17
I rarely get asked about my cultural heritage nor does my mum, who was not born here (Dutch) because we are white/fair. Sometimes people ask about my first name though and if it has cultural origins.
I sometimes ask people where their accent comes from - I've travelled a bit so it can be a good conversation starter. Other than that, cultural background usually only comes up if it's part of the conversation. For example if we're talking about food we like, what we're doing for Christmas or why I can't talk without waving my arms around everywhere.
10-07-2014 09:49 #18
10-07-2014 09:52 #19
I agree with Night Owl, it's often pure curiosity.
I lived in Sydney for 9 years and it's something people get asked all the time. It's a multicultural place and I think in some cases people get the impression someone may have the same ethnic origin as them and that's why they ask (e.g. "are you Turkish? I knew it, so am I!").
A lot of people would also proudly state their ethnicity. They would say "I'm Greek" even if they were 3rd generation Australians. On the other hand we have a friend who would always say "I'm Australian" when asked by guys when she was out clubbing, and often they'd respond negatively because she wouldn't openly state that she was of Lebanese origin.
I don't think there's anything wrong with asking about someone's cultural background, as long as you word it respectfully and that you're asking out of genuine interest.
10-07-2014 09:59 #20
I don't think by itself it is racist, it depends on the intent. I get it all the time and it's generally because many people do not understand the difference between Nationality and Ethnicity. I was born here by kiwi parents and because of immigration law I am Australian but if I was born 12 months later I wouldnt be. I consider myself a NZer not an Aussie.
I was also going to post this in the other thread but would be more appropriate here.
By this way of thinking, if 'curry' is racist then so is 'pom', 'yank' and 'kiwi'. I think people are in fear of using such words because of all the PC bs. For what its worth, I didn't know Indians referred to themselves as curry so wouldnt have thought to use it.
I've been on the receiving end of plenty a racial slur and it's the words that come before or after the 'name' that are racist. Yeah, I'm a kiwi, so what, that doesn't offend me. But call me an 'feckin dog kiwi biatch' that 'should feck off back to where you came from' you better be prepared to lose that fight.
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