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On being “black” in Australia and the U.S.

23 January, 2009

Here in Sydney as well as in Egypt, people have often commented to me on the strangeness of the American logic of race. “Why do you call Barack Obama black? His mother was white. Why don’t you call him white?” I explain the cultural logic of the “one-drop rule” of attributing race in the United States, but often people just shake their head at the absurdity of it. I tell them that yes, it’s absurd, but it’s how our culture popularly imagines race. Everyone knows that Obama’s mother was white, and yet everyone “knows” that Obama is black.

I’ve read enough of the work of my colleagues who do work in Brazil, and I’ve lived in Venezuela (where the racial imaginary is closer to that of Brazil than to that of the U.S.), to have some familiarity with different cultural logics of “race.” When it comes to Australia, though, I arrived here pretty ignorant. So for the past year and a half, I’ve been watching and listening carefully, trying to work out how the Australians imagine race. In certain ways the Australian logic seems to parallel the American formula. But in other ways the logic is quite different. Here, being Aboriginal seems to be not about the mixing of genetic or biological material but rather about heritage, about identifying with a community of people who claim you as one of their own. I’ve met several Aboriginal scholars who are as fair as Welsh-background me with straight blond hair, so it’s definitely not one’s appearance that is considered to make one Aboriginal.

Yet perhaps that’s also true in the U.S. It is self identification that matters most in “racial” categorizing, and this is reflected in the U.S. Census, where a person is categorized as black or white or Hispanic etc based purely on how they describe themselves. In contrast, Indigenousness in the U.S. can be is more straightforwardly about imagining the mixing of blood; to be officially Native American for purposes of obtaining some college scholarships or special admissions considerations, for example, you have to show that you are at least 1/16 or 1/32 Native American by descent (see this interesting online discussion); in contrast, the right to hold a Tribal I.D. card from most Native American tribes has to do with how you were raised and what community recognizes you, not with fractions and bloodlines.

But I started out talking about how Australians imagine Indigenous identity, i.e. Torres Strait Islanders or Aboriginal Australians, not about what Australians think it means to be black. I still don’t know that much about how Australians imagine blackness. (Maybe that’s because Australia is more about imagining whiteness than blackness?) This recent SMH article describes a group of Aboriginal artists as “black,” though the skin color of the artist they use to illustrate the article is quite fair. Yet to my American eye, this article is so wonderful — and strange — because of the way it describes a fair-skinned musician as black without at all indicating that there’s any strangeness about that. It makes it look like Australians are a lot less hung up on racial appearances than Americans are.

Can any of my Australian colleagues tell me more about how these labels get applied in Australia? Is “black” applied to all Indigenous Australians, independent of skin color? Is it equally applied to Sudanese immigrants?

  1. 23 January, 2009 7:10 pm

    Racial discrimination has a long history in Australia, and is synonymous with its colonial history. There is a huge legacy of distinctions made between ‘full blooded’ Aboriginals and ‘half-caste’ children, who were not ‘black’ or ‘white.’ The fact that Australia was colonised around the time other colonies were beginning to exploit African slave labour might have made a difference in the way settlers viewed the indigenous people of Australia in comparison to African populations. I don’t know enough about history to continue this train of thought.

    I am inclined to believe that indigenous people are definitely separated from people of European descent in the average Australian’s mind, it is a seldom occurrence to hear this verbally. In Australia to hear someone call an indigenous person black would be quite peculiar. There are plenty of other derogatory terms, especially used out of Victoria, and if you pressed someone they would probably say that indigenous Australians are ‘black,’ but it is not at the forefront of the mind.

    Personally, I think of Obama as black because the media has saturated all avenues with the opinion. He is a ‘good black’ – because he is The Great Liberator, it’s OK for the press to throw ‘black’ around every sentence and for us all to yap about blackness until the cows come home. In a few generations if there is another president of mixed race I doubt there will be as much of a fuss (unless Obama is assassinated.)

    I personally believe someone is of Australian indigenous identity if they claim they are. I’m not anthropologist but I thought I’d blather a bit to see if I could contribute something useful.

  2. 24 January, 2009 4:50 pm

    You raise an interesting issue.

    In my experience, the term black is rarely used in modern Australia outside two main groups – the media and some Europeans talk about black-white in the context of relations with and treatment of the Aborigines, while Aborigines will talk of white fellas, black fellas. This can sound a bit odd when the person speaking is as European looking as I am.

    Historically, the term blacks was applied to the Aborigines by Europeans and then used by them in turn. However, even then its use was limited.

    Part of the reason for this is that, unlike the Americas, Australia never had a large African community, so our attitudes went through a different process.

    All racial attitudes come back to them and us.

    On the us side, if you read past material from Australia as well as comments from Britian about Australia you will see references to the phrase the Australian race. Australia and some of the dominions were seen as breeding a new and better form of the British race.

    This is quite important, because many Australians were as prejudiced against Southern Europeans as they were against other groups. They weren’t Brittish.

    Outside the early settlement period, Australia’s indigenous people were a very minor sub-text in Australian history until quite recently. Of far more importance was the looming presence of Asia. The phrase yellow peril is an example.

    There are a lot of racial terms around today, but they are far more fragmented as Australia has become more fragmented. Sometimes they also reflect splits within individual ethnic groups as well as the history of those groups.

    In the case of the Chinese, for example, we have ABCs (Autsralian born Chinese), bananas (yellow on the outisde, white within), eggs (white on the outside, yellow within) and Hongkies (Hong Kong born Chinese).

    A particular difficulty in Australia is our tendency to import and apply models that have little to do with Australian history.

    I hope that this is of some help.

  3. 25 January, 2009 8:14 am

    Thanks Luke and Jim for those thoughtful and helpful comments.

  4. 26 January, 2009 10:51 am

    Oh, and on Obama’s whiteness/blackness, see this funny little ditty about Obama (O’bama) being Irish, as his great-great-great grandfather came from Moneygall, Ireland

  5. nic bidwell permalink
    27 January, 2009 1:18 am

    Should we not consider the ways that our identification of blackness is shaped by influences beyond Australian history, in particular modern day transnational political projects and their expressions in popular arts? A non-indigenous Australian risks insulting an Indigenous person by using the term blackfella in much the same way as using the ‘n word’ in America; yet, a fair skinned Indigenous man recently observed to me, with some amusement, that many Indigenous people overseas are ‘really white’ (e.g. in Scandinavia, central Europe etc.,). That is, the ‘Indigenous project’ seems synonymous with colonisation by the white of the black or brown, and modern day expressions of identity, such as music forms popular with Indigenous people (e.g. reggae, hip-hop) express resistance, emancipation and anger about racism. i do not suggest that the Indigenous Australian image of blackness is an appropriation of external iconography (e.g. American, West-Indies, etc.,) but that perhaps views of blackness today draw upon transnational political projects that are as much black as white.

  6. 27 January, 2009 9:17 pm

    I recently found out that in the Netherlands, schools with high concentrations of “allochthonous” children (i.e. children from migrant families) are called “black schools.” The “problem migrants” here are the Moroccans, and to a lesser extent Turks and Surinamese; only a small percentage would be called “black” in a “racial” sense.

  7. 27 January, 2009 9:40 pm

    I think it’s an interesting point that you raise, Nic. It certainly is worthwhile considering the transnational dimensions of concepts of blackness and indigeneity. Lisa’s post is pointing to national variations in attitudes and concepts but it’s equally interesting to consider how they mutually influence each other. I think you’re right that there is a widespread assumption that ‘indigenous’ people are brown or black skinned, though the Sami in Scandinavia and others are exceptions. While you might be right that skin colour is widely connected with indigeniety, there have been recent conferences and events in Australia which have brought together representatives of Sami communities and indigenous Australians. As far as I know there was a lot of common ground and common experience between these groups.

    I think the term ‘indigenous’ is often misused to connote merely being born in a place, or having one’s ancestors from there, as when white Australians say that they are ‘indigenous too’ (so what are the Aborigines making all this fuss about, being the implication). However, indigenity has a lot more to do with the process of colonisation of people living in non-state societies who have been incorporated into states, colonial or otherwise, and who remain distinct from the majority population and who are also marginalised.

    I also can’t agree with you that ‘blackfella’ has the same level of negative connotations as ‘the n-word’ does i the USA. I think the fact that we are both reluctant to use the latter is an indication of how much more fraught that term is. It’s possible to use the word ‘blackfella’ without any derogatory connotations. As Jim said though, it’s less common for white Australians to use the terms ‘whitefella’ and ‘blackfella’, but I would say that those who do are often claiming a greater level of intimacy with Aboriginal affairs as cultural insiders.

  8. Abioseh permalink
    30 January, 2009 10:44 am

    I am an African American living in the U.S. and by that I don’t mean I am a Black American. My father was a very dark skinned African from Sierra Leone, and my mother is the child of Italian and British immigrants to the U.S. making her American. Culturally my parents always told me that I would be viewed by the world around me as black, and growing I identified mostly with hip-hop and reggea style music, speak with my friends in hip hop style vernacular and dress with hip-hop style clothing. Because of this I mostly identify with the “black” race, although my father always had an issue with that term saying that his skin was brown. Still when I fill out statistical questionaires I always put both because I can identify with both black and white and technically I am both having just as much one as the other in my genetic make up. I conclude, that race is biological, but culture is entirely different.

    I can’t speak to the culture of Obama but technically, like myself, he is an African American man, and when the term is used in America it is synonomous with a black man, even though linguistically it should mean both African and American. However the cultural divide in America is extremely strong still, or wouldn’t have been a big deal that an African American was elected in office, and therefore like myself he is viewed as black when in America. However, I am sure that is not the case in Kenya, as it is not the case in Sierra Leone, where we would be viewed as white. He is counter to the majority because of his complexion, and is viewed as a minority in both places. I don’t know anything about Australian cultures and ethnicities, but I hope my experience in America and Africa can help shed some light on the subject.

  9. 30 January, 2009 1:55 pm

    Very interesting and insightful comments. Thanks Abioseh for sharing your thoughts.

  10. Hasheeb permalink
    7 December, 2009 8:35 am

    My great garndfather on my father’s side was Nigerian. My mother was West Indian. I consider myself of my father.
    I have three daughters two who have a Mexican-Italian mother. We both view my daughters as Black. Not because of the color but that is what they can check on applications and forms. My oldest daughet who’s mother is German says that my daughter is Black.

  11. 12 December, 2009 12:27 pm

    This is an interesting post. The only thing I have to say is that “racial classification” can become problematic and tricky if people spend too much time analysing it.

    Once upon a colonial time, there were many people who were classified as black. For example: Arabs, South Asians, Amerindians, Native-Americans, Australian Aboriginals, Gypsies and indigenous Africans.

    Today, the term is used almost exclusively for indigenous Africans and Aboriginals in Australia. In the case of Arabs, well, they have they’re only referred to with derogatory names like sand-n-word.
    In Turkey, they still call black people Araps (Arabs).

  12. 4 March, 2010 2:12 am

    Hi Lisa!

    Catch up with you offline, but I’m sure you already know about this “Racist KFC Advertisement” (hopefully it embeds properly, if not, it’s on youtube).

    Knowing little about the particular racial history of Australia, but a little more about the West Indies, and a hell of a lot about the United States, for me the notion of an exasperated white man making friends with a West Indian crowd by passing around a bucket of chicken about garners the reaction of incredulity seemingly written on the face of the woman in the right foreground of the clip. From a media studies point of view, I’d like to ask if she’s more shocked that he’s sharing his beloved chicken with strangers, or that she’s in this commercial. To my mind, the conditions of production for the commerical, vis-a-vis the immediate shoot, as well as the historical penetration of something like KFC into the West Indies, as well as Australia, should also be of note.

    While the response to American allegations of racism have been dismissed as American exceptionalism, and the idea that only American measures of racism should matter anywhere else, for my part I was taken back to the comments of one of the rappers I work with in Paris, a young man of Algerian and Senegalese descent, if anyone’s counting. “If you look at the KFCs,” he said agitatedly, “it’s no mystery. They’re at Chatelet Les Halles, Chateau d’Eau, and Chateau Rouge, where black people live.” Of course, “black” in the French context at least includes West and Central Africans, as well as some Caribbean and French outre-mer; for the young, hip hop generation I work with, it can also mean North Africans as well.

  13. J. Thos. (Neutral2) permalink
    8 March, 2010 9:20 am

    Here is my take as Neutral2 (N2) on this topic.

    This is how I came to self-identify myself (N2). All total, I can attest to more than ten-plus AUS encounters and about six NZ otherwise. I am older and of Free Black descent, with an Irish patriarch like many “Down Under”.

    Here goes. Before these direct meetings, I had an interest in the marsupials, (Uluru) Ayers Rock, etc. In fact, Thomas Keneally is one the greatest authors (fiction and non-fiction) of all time! In college, a peer noted that a Black lady from his hometown moved to AUS and returned to the USA due to racism.

    The very first Australian I recall meeting was a former German Nazi army conscript visiting the cemetery in Ohio where some of his late comrades were buried. I believe he was sincere about his draft status back then and that he did not hate minorities, just Jews. After being asked for directions, I asked why he did not move to South Africa after WWII. My father and uncles on both sides were WWII and military veterans also. This man pointed out that he would be unwelcome there due to the Jews who fled Hitler. Yes, a number did succeed there and supported apartheid I know firsthand. Similarly, so have some other non-Black “Coloureds” who wanted to fit in. There are good and bad people everywhere you go. Being aware of Jewish slaveholders in the USA, along with Christian ones and Muslin ones abriad reitierates that no one people should be oerceived as all good or bad. NEUTRAL

    Moving right along, my next AUS/NZ encounter was with an ancient bitch who was apparently the wife of a WWII Yabk thatbrought her stateside. I was on a Continental flight and this couple and a young white girl had sat down without checking seats, thus displacing me temporarily. I was polite, yet her husband was stunned when I announced that I was assigned to the row. The bitch was annoyed that I spole up, and other travelers began to heckle me for saying anything, since a little white girl (about ten) was alone. By then, pregnant me, had had enough of these bigots going from New Orleans to Houston and some to St. Louis. so I had to school all of them on several facts. 1) I paid for the seat. 2) However they were used tio treating Blacks in TX, MO or AUS/NZ would not work with me. 3) I insisted that the flight crew enforce the seat assignments. When I disembarked, I was looked at with fear by the few Blacks that boarded during the exchange, although no rage or profanity occurred. One bigot chimed with others that they hoped I had a good trip and went to church to which I responded that I would more than they ever could, since none bought one thing I had in life! In other words, I waas ready to become “Bitch Ryan” instead of Mary Williams (a pregnant Black woman brutally lynched with erh fetus in Valdosta, GA around 1919). NEGATIVE

    When living in New Orleans years before Katrina, I had to moonlight after my marriage ended, since academic there are paid near the pits of all U.S. places. A friendly NZ tourist came to the shop and offered that he had a Maori wife who would have like to meet me. He shared an e-mail which I lost. POSITIVE

    A Maori dance troupe came to New Orleans for cultural venues, and I was the unanimous selection to emcee the show at the accelerated school I worked at as librarian. Of the tattoos the office staff saw, they were reluctant to connect with them otherwise. These were mostly minority staff in a location near St. Charles Avenue in a faux voodoo and crime site! The show was a hit. POSITIVE

    I have been invited by Child Migrants Trust clients to Australia. Their first international conference was in New Orleans (2001), America’s largest seaport. I was the lone Catholic layperson who attended, since I am a pro-active Catholic appalled at their treatment which paralleled the Stolen Generations timewise and with deceitful and evil means of taking children from their families. Their revelations were awful. POSITIVE

    At my daughter’s Ivy League alma mater, one of her best classmates was a student from Perth. Her sweetheart was an athlete that visited AUS with her and relocated there after school. He is American and Black. POSITIVE

    Because Americans have received some bad reviews as exchange students hosts, I tried as a mother and friend of two white sisters to make their charges welcome, along with my daughter. They were friendly, yet lacking in common courtesy, such as “Thank You”, and I felt as if they were of the ilk that either never has connected with Aboriginals or Blacks from anywhere. I got the feeling that they were surprised to encounter educated Blacks that did not live the negative stereotypes in the media worldwide. I would not interact with them again for these reasons. As teens, age will prove their ultimate characters, yet I believe that by 1st grade, most of us have evolved. Cultural values can last. No, I would not like for my child to ever have white friends like them – neither here nor there. NEGATIVE

    Having shared all of this, the opposition to National Sorry Day and the belief by some Australians that Aboriginals are either the lowest people on earth or less than human (blogs and YouTube comments) is disgusting. Jimmy Governour was wrong to murder. I have awareness of the African diaspora presence in AUS since the First Fleet to the early 1900’s up to now, from the first “bushranger” to activists concerned about the indigenous man, yet how can I abide bigotry elsewhere when U.S. racism still exists here so much? All who desire to go “Down Under”, do so. My jury is still out for all of these reasons. I wonder if the same Australians who marry Blacks here, like the husband of Leslie Uggams and the father of Soledad O’Brien and those who love Tina Turner are oppressors of Aborigines there. Perhaps not, I hope. When I was younger, they were classified in anthropology as Caucausoid. Now, these human beings are classified as a separate race, Australoid, with the least intellect and like Neanderthals. Why?

    Good night, and G’day!

  14. Nathan Miller permalink
    9 April, 2010 1:23 pm


    I was just browsing the net as I am an Aboriginal Australian but am brown haired and fair skinned and recently my japanese wife and I had our first child. I was looking for articles on multiracial identities.

    I grew up in a rural remote town of charleville and have travelled through southern Queensland mainly and northern Japan. While I grew up in some towns my Aboriginality and blackness was questioned or denied and other times accepted either straight out, ambiguosly or with open one drop anger.

    My opinion on race relation and the black words in Australia is most non-indigenous large urban east coast citizens have never met an Aborigine as they say. Often they are stunned when I tell them I am Aboriginal or black. The other reaction from more racist people is but you know you aren’t black. My witty reparte is I do have a mirror. On rare occasions people have stopped talking to me more ofte it is inappropriate racial comments. The slurs word black ****, blacks, boong, Abo, gin, coon are very common. Nigger for the dumber racist for Aboriginal people though is more commonly used for African people.

    In general friends and people from my hometown simply accept me as an Aboriginal person/ murri /murdi or just don’t care what I say I am as long as I don’t abuse anybody. People in polite conversation use coloured, half caste, Aborigine, Black fella, Abo, Indigenous, Black Australia. I generally think only halfcaste, coloured, Abo is offensive.

    The funniest thing I think about what is racist or label is the word Wog is a word of pride for some Australian Italians, Greeks etc but english people find it deeply offensive (its considered the equivalent of nigger). The word black although bordering on offensive in Australia is still widely ok but in USA and Canadian and Uk people usually squirm. I think part of the acceptability of these words is the Australia Anglo celtic culture of taking the piss out of your friends is ok and verbal egaliatarianism and vernacular (calling a spade a spade)is actively encouraged as the great leveler of the convict, non-religous free settler colony culture we inherited. In the main outside of the 6 major cities most people have assimilated into this culture. I do not think we lack hangups about the word black but it is majority of Australians are still Anglo celtic or other European cultures in background basically white and the derogative black is not really personally offensive experience to most people. Those white Aboriginals you saw are in one way reembracing a word that is employed to denigrate and I am thinking it is like the word nigger. And also there is no pan Indigenous word for ourselves except state based Murri, Koori etc that is more our own secret name for ourselves. We say black so white people can understand who we are (indiginous) also they were technically selling themselves or using their roots to differitiate or promote themselves.

    I apologise for the spelling errors. I am simply too lazy to correct them.

  15. Charles permalink
    15 May, 2010 2:16 pm

    As a Black American in the United States who is taking a job in Australia I find this blog and its comments absolutely fascinating. I’ve had the pleasure of being financial successful and believe me that this has made a difference in how I view myself and how my colleagues and their peers view me. Bizarrely I grew up black and poor in the United States and now I’m simply viewed as an oddity in the power circles of the United States. Among “elites”, I am their equal as long as I can prove I deserve the “financial merit” that they are born with( or so as I see it). When I take business trips to the “classically” most racist portions of the United States, I’m reminded of this racism in the sneers, refences to Nigger ( in the United States I can use this word), equality among whites who have been marginalized, and simple state of being treated as I don’t exist. I look forward to the opportunites in Australia and realize that I will enjoy the same confused state in Australia that I have “enjoyed” in the United States. All I can ultimately conclude is that God has introduced this confusion and seeming “false” construct into all of our lives. We have been forced to war with eachother over race, religion, color, origin, power, etc to realize that we are all flesh and blood, forced to realize the disgusting nature of our falsehoods on our deathbeds. Believe me these are false constructs that I have experienced in the workplace, courts of law and everyday life. Only 500 years ago man was only concerned with survival. He/She was forced to derive systems of organization to assure his/her survial and utilzed every tool to assure his/her existence and that over his/her offspring. In a Western world where everyone has access to healthcare, feed and even shelter (although it may be basic) we’re forced to discern a new rule of law and sense of protocol. I wish everyone the best of luck in exploring this quandry.

    I pray this isn’t too confusing of a statement.

  16. Jman permalink
    21 June, 2010 9:23 pm

    Hi Guys,

    Being a child of mixed race background born in the 70’s to a second generation Anglo Aussie mother & an African American farther, I have watched the racial/ racist evolution of Australia for near 40 years. Much of this I was exposed to directly in the form of racially motivated verbal & physical abuse up until my early twenties, where I grew in size to over 6′ 5″ and filled out. My mother also received vilification in public for having a black child, and was more than once told to “lock up her monkey”.

    Continual abuse at school by both students and teachers lead to me being removed from school in year 8 for my own safety, after a teacher had two student hold my arms down while he tried to force a wooden blackboard eraser in my mouth. An assault which happened when I tried to defend myself against racial vilification by a student in the class. The assault damaged & infected my gums almost leading to the loss of my teeth, yet the education department failed to act. Despite later in life finding out I have an IQ past 155 with reasoning skills in the top 98percitle of the population, I was treated as stupid and ineducable. I later returned to school to complete studies in science & business.

    In my professional career I have always encountered various levels of racism from coworkers & even clients at times. In fact when I first started my latest job I was sent a joke email with the title “women arrested for walking her dog”, attached was an image of an aboriginal lady walking along with a large guide dog donation box under arm. I was highly offended and forced to take up the matter with the person who had sent it, who has since had an ongoing issue with me for bringing it up. Another time I overheard my work mate who was sitting directly across from me use the phrase “the nigger in the wood pile”, I was so shocked at the time it didn’t even process. Despite being a personable guy I am never asked out by workmates, and frequently excluded from social networks.

    I have watched over the years as Anglo-Aussies have shifted the racist ideologies around onto other groups such as the Greek & Italians who they labeled wogs, Asian immigrants which they called the “Asian invasion” & now onto Muslim, Indonesian, Indian peoples, Arab & African immigrants. The jump in Anti-Muslim sediment reaching a fever pitch after 911 and the Bali bombing attack, despite the fact Muslims have been here in large numbers for over 50 years. The shear lunacy of this prejudice was on display for all at Cronulla, where all the sudden the Australian flag & the Southern Cross took on a near swastika like imagery. As gangs of Anglo-Aussie youth went around bashing anybody who looked too tanned or slightly not English in stock. There has now being an ongoing adoption of the flag & southern cross, as well as bumper stickers with such welcoming messages as “F**k off where full” , “We grew here you flew here” & a nice one with the Aussie flag and the quote ” If you don’t love it, then f**k off!”.

    It also important to note that the previous government enacted a police intervention into remote indigenous communities, sighting rampant child sexual abuse as the pretext. This required repealing of the racial discrimination act to implement , which shows the action was indeed racist. The outcome has been not a single pedophile being convicted some 3 years on, and the government attempting to force these people to sign 40 year leases for their own cultural lands. When the UN inspector arrived in Australia, he produced a report stating that our treatment of Indigenous people violated international law. And was racist, to which we replied “no where not”. Which is the standard response of most Aussies when the racism of the country is brought to account. The Howard government also lied to the Australian public about refugee “boat people” throwing their children overboard, to whip up support for racist immigration policies. And the immigration minster sited a case of young Somalian man who was beaten to death by a gang of Aussies, as proof that Somalian refugees weren’t integrating into our society..

    The big issue with Australia is that it has no solid cultural identity, it is a young and incredibly naive country that wont except its indigenous peoples culture as relevant. So it has only 200 years of history, and has remained quite isolated from the rest of world. The net result has being the creation of the “Australia way of life”, which consist of a culture of rooting for the underdog. Not working too hard, enjoying the beach and the BBQ, following footy & heading to the pub every Friday with your mates to talk crap over a beer. Anything outside of this is labeled as un-Australian and thus people who immigrate here are expected to forgo their own cultural heritage to act in a Aussie way. The underlying insecurity of this leads to fanatical assertions that other cultures are incompatible & pose a threat to their beloved “Australian way of life”. However you never hear a peep about the thousands of white English, Irish, New Zealanders & South Africans that immigrate here every year, and take up jobs, tax benefits etc etc. All at a much higher proportion than non-white immigrants to Australia do, and most especially far more than refugees on boats.

    In the town of Camden in NSW the public went to the council and blocked the approval of a Mosque in their neighborhood, claiming it would bring undesirables. Yet stood silent when the application of a legal prostitution brothel in their suburb was approved at the same meeting?. Now if that’s not a big insight into the psychology of racism in Australia then I don’t know what is?.

    Australia on the surface embrace African American’s as the perpetuation of urban music culture has lead to a kind of hyped up admiration of black American stereotypes amongst younger Aussies. But many still perpetuate racism against aboriginal, Maori & dark skinned Indian folks. The later of which recently fell under a wave of attacks which seemed to intensify the more the media focused on them, and the more Australia was called to account for the racism.

    I could point out many cases of how racism is still very active in this country & how many Australians condone it or assist it through willful denial it exist, often coming to the aid of people who have acted in racist way. Such as the recent black face skit on television or when old footy star San Newman called tennis star Serena Williams an ape, and thousands turned up online to support his freedom of speech!.

    We have a lot to learn in this country about acceptance of others, as much as we falsely put on a good face of multicultural tolerance ..

  17. Nancy permalink
    25 June, 2010 10:05 pm

    Jman it’s very interesting to hear your comments. I’m mixed race too and whilst your experiences are far more severe than mine, I understand the situation. I completely get this:
    “The big issue with Australia is that it has no solid cultural identity”
    This is the same with England (despite it appearing to have more of a sense of ‘history’). The adjustment to race appears to be harder in countries where their identity is not very strong because then the fear tends to be strong and so follows a need to exclude. I am quite curious about race in Australia because from appearances (from over here in England), I would think the similarities are strong with England however Australia comes across as more ‘brutal’/intolerant. The more brutal English people tend to emigrate over there (sorry about that but not my doing)as they ‘admire’ that coldness/harshness. I find it depressing – much more so about Australia because of the fact that some of the people who are outcast are indigenous.

    With regards to Obama: Obama is considered black because of his skin colour (and thus probably his experiences). It’s simple. His skin is not white. If you think ‘black’ and ‘white’ go beyond colour then that’s something you could maybe expand on but I do find it annoying as a mixed race person when someone says ‘you’re not black’. It’s ludicrous. Both “sides” do this.

  18. Tony permalink
    19 July, 2010 4:56 pm

    Very, Very interesting please continue

  19. Kamilah permalink
    29 July, 2010 4:07 am

    As a professional African American woman, I’m thinking I will pass on this job opportunity in Australia. I don’t love money enough to tolerate a nation wrought with intolerance.

  20. Eve permalink
    11 August, 2010 4:46 pm

    The term ‘Black’ is applied to Indigenous Australians as well as those of African origin. And Aboriginals in the ’60s were greatly inspired by the US Civil Rights Movement, leading to the ‘Freedom Rides,’ organised by Aboriginal activist Charlie Perkins and university students. This, in turn, led to the ‘Yes’ Referendum vote, to count Aboriginal people in the Census, in 1967. So, I think there is a similar cultural history, in terms of fighting racial discrimination. Except America has since progressed since the ’60s Civil Rights Movement, in leaps and strides, whereas in Australia, it’s often a case of ‘one step forward, ten steps back,’ unfortunately.

    I have a mixed background myself (Anglo-Filipino), and was bullied a lot at school (just by males). For some reason, it’s the men that are the most racist, but Anglo-Australian women are fine. I suppose because a lot of Anglo-Australian women have faced sexism, which is just as hurtful and dehumanising as racism.

    Actually, there are a lot of Anglo-Australian women that have partners of Asian or African background. The men still have that brutish ‘colonial’ mentality, that a lot of white South African men had during the Apartheid era…Oh well, my advice, when it comes to bullies, is just to ignore them, and surround yourself with lots of women! Haha… 🙂 The latter won’t be too hard – Australian women of all backgrounds tend to be very friendly!)

  21. Jade permalink
    30 September, 2010 11:17 am

    I cannot believe the amount of generalising regarding Australia! And that one woman is going to pass on a job opportunity because if it?
    Australians are rarely ‘pure white’ and IF they are you will find are not the ones ranting their supremacy. There are morons of evey race colour and creed. Australia is a young country but hardly without cultrue. You should read of Australias first attempt at democracy the Eureka uprising. Those of you who only want to see Australia as racist would be intersted to know that this story was of Gold miners fighting the government regarding an increase in taxes, the composition oft he upsring was 2 Australian born miners, American -both white and black, French, Swedish, Jamaican, Italian and several other nationalities.
    Many Australians ‘appear’ white but many have Aboriginal or Chinese relatives, and DO NOT ‘LOOK’ LIKE IT AT ALL. Careful who you generalise. I myself (am mixed race) and I see Australia as progressive, with a fabulous tapstry of culture-being of many cultures. When it comes to cooking a wok, a Tajine and chopsticks are staples in the households of major cities, as is the blend of music and art.

    The mention of Cronulla riots as a standard bearer of Australians view of race is no more insulting than the assumption every black man is a gang banger and every black lady walks around as per rap filmclips????? Exactly, the riots are a miniscule fraction of a group of people who still think that blaming others for their own shitty choices in life is acceptable just as their parents and grandparents before them have done.
    Racism is just an excuse to not take blame for your own crummy life choices, it has no place in Australia, and THINKING Australians (OF ALL COLOURS) have no tolerance for that sort of behaviour.
    In short the ethos of Australia is a fair go for all, where you are judged on the content of your character not the colour of your skin.

  22. Jade permalink
    30 September, 2010 11:21 am

    Pack your bags you will love it. Experience it for yourself. You will be suprised by how multicultural Australia is. I for one welcome you with open arms!!!!

  23. Van Lee permalink
    1 November, 2010 11:47 am

    I would to know if you really passed on the job offer or not.


  24. Patrick permalink
    29 November, 2010 7:02 pm

    Obama is not half white he is also part Native American. He can identify any way he wants as far as I am concerned. I don’t care what color his skin is. As far as Native American goes it’s not a blood quota but the way one identifies. It’s the government that cares about that for finical reasons. I have more Native American DNA than most citizens of the Cherokee Nation but I can’t be a Citizen of it, and don’t care so much one way or the other. The only thing that that really matters for is money. My heritage is not for sale and the C.N. Gives me it with out question. America is a very mixed race nation it always has been and always will be.

  25. Patrick permalink
    29 November, 2010 7:23 pm

    Kamilah is not professional enough to get the facts before she draws a conclusion. I am sorry to say Australia please never pass a law that will promote people based on their race alone. Only on qualifications. Sure at one time it might have been a good way to mix things up, but sad to say theses days it could be the downfall of America brainless people with a since of entitlement shouting discrimination to get their way. Offer her a good job that she don’t really have to show up for and send her a ticket and tell her she can sue just because of her skin color if she gets fired for not working and she will be on the next plain over! Ok I admit lots of assuming going on there but hey she did it first! Also please note some people of African decent are true professionals in America. One day she might be one of them just not at the time she wrote that!

  26. carlos simba sumbo permalink
    26 December, 2010 7:54 am

    I my sell think that the sense of race depends of the place and the person him self , i am a black african guy ( born in Africa ) and living in Brazil , and i have notice that in Africa a mixed-race person is not seen as black , but has more being part of whites than of blacks , one of the things that make people act like that is the skin , when you are a little bit different than the majority of people, it tend to create a stereotype about you , even themselves ( the mixed) know that they are not blacks , a tend to create a concept of self-protection between them selves , but when you go to Brazil where there is majority whites , a mixed person is seen more black than white ,is not black and is not white is “”mulato”’ in Africa or in Brazil if you ask a mixed person wether he is black or white , in Brazil the majority will say they are “mulato” but they are more inclined to blacks because they say whites are always racist, in Africa they know they not black , and they feel they just mixed ( do not identify with whites but just mixed) , there is something that i have noticed about one of my friends, mixed and born in Africa , and came in Brazil , in Africa as a said before he is not called black , but once in Brazil him self or when you ask him if he is black or white he says he is black , so the issue race depends on the person him self and the place , iam saying that because i know what i am talking about i have experienced both sides .

  27. marge permalink
    24 January, 2011 1:54 am

    I’m a African American who has been dividing my time between America and Sydney for the last two and a half years and the more I am in Australia, the more racism I see / experience. Rather possibly bigotry or ignorance but it is there.

    People stare rudely, which surprises me because the fact that it is a western country that should be used to blacks in any form. I understand if I was in SE Asia or other areas where the population of blacks were small to none but not a Engligh speaking place, I’ve gotten harassed by security guards, shop owners often watch me, etc. The moment I speak and my American accent comes out… everyone’s at ease and I’m treated with much more respect which is kind of sad if you think about it for those who don’t have the luxury of speaking with my particular accent. Many have thought I was African, from the Islands or Aboriginal and expressed slight relief that I was not :-/

    Mind you it’s not blatant in your face racism. And there are parts where I felt 100 percent comfortable – such as in Bondi where they are used to many internationals. It’s very subtle something that you would not really pick up on if you weren’t experiencing it first hand. My partner who is a anglo aussie and the reason I’m there so often, never got it because he never saw it until recently and now he understands. I hear it’s much much worse in other areas. I can only speak for Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – in the cities – not the countryside/suburbs.

    I don’t dislike Australia, in fact there are parts of it I really love, so I really hope the woman above took the opportunity because travel is always worth it. I kind of think of Australia as how America was in the 60s/70s in terms of race relations. They do have a long way to go but will get there eventually thanks to the younger generation who seem more at ease with different ethnicites.

  28. marge permalink
    24 January, 2011 1:59 am

    Here’s a article I just found talking about Lawrence Fishbourne’s experience there. It actually reflects my own experience and feelings.

  29. Lorraine permalink
    25 January, 2011 6:13 am

    Hi Marge,

    Thank you so much for chiming in. My hubby and I have always wanted to vacation in NZ and Australia and I still don’t see a reason why we should not. We are bw/wm couple. I know that racism is everywhere but also advocate that I get updates periodically when someone makes a post. I would like to invite you to join the Black Women In Europe Network. We are a black women living inside and outside the US, working, studying, living or traveling around the world. Adrianne George who set up the network is from DC and lives in Sweden. We have a few members living in Australia and NZ. Thanks and hope to see you on BWIE and all the best.

  30. Ian permalink
    5 March, 2011 9:08 pm

    Sorry if I didn’t read all the posts above but I surfed here and was looking to converse with some Traditional Owners of Australia. I grew up in Moree NSW. Never see black or white only hear it when when people tell me what they are. Its not the colour its whats on the inside. The joke I have with a few of my work friends is that they say it rubs off when they touch me. I guess they get chalk on them & I get lead.

  31. Adrian W permalink
    7 May, 2011 11:52 am

    Sorry Patrick, you need to do your homework in regards to AF program. It was created in 70’s to combat institutionalized discrimination in the hiring practice.

    Despite that America is one of worlds most MERITOCRATIC countries and poster child of modern capitalism. In the end it’s all about the numbers and companies will hire, promote the most suitable individual.

    As result here are some name of successful black business men & women in current/ former positions:

    Richard Parson – CEO of Time Warner
    James Bell – CEO of Boeing
    Ken Chenault – CEO of American Express
    David C. Drummond – Chief Legal Officer at Google
    Ralph Gilles – Chrysler’s Design Chief
    Stanley O’Neal – CEO of Merrill Lynch & Co
    John W. Thompson – CEO of Symantec
    Robert R. Hagan Jr.- CFO of AARP
    Aylwin Lewis CEO of Kmart Holding Company
    John W. Rogers – CEO of Ariel Capital Management

    Rodney C. Adkins – Senior VP of IBM Systems and Technology Group
    H. James Dallas – Chief Information Officer of Medtronic
    Clarence Otis Jr.- CEO of Red Lobster and Olive Garden Restaurant Chains
    Ann M. Fudge CEO of Young and Rubicam Brands
    Steven A. Davis – CEO of Bob Evans Restaurants
    Vanita Banks – President of the National Bar Association
    Cynthia Moore Hardy – President of Lake Hospital System
    John Muleta – CEO of M2Z
    Catherine L. Hughes – President of Radio One
    James Bruce Llewellyn – CEO of The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company
    Ronald M. Pirtle – VP of Delphi Thermal Systems
    Sidney Johnson – VP of Global Supply Management Delphi Corporation
    Rodney O’Neal – CEO of Delphi Corporation


  32. 18 June, 2011 7:47 pm

    As one born and bred in Aussie land, I find the whole topic rather curious. As far as I can tell, the only people concerned about what race/color you are in Australia are those who immigrate from overseas. I have and do work with people with all shades of skin tones…when I think about it, but primarily I don`t think Australians care much for where you come from, rather, are you hard working and pleasant to get along with? The only racist encounters I`ve had are threats of physical violence from Aboriginal woman, but still, my best friend in school was an Aboriginal girl.

  33. luke permalink
    2 August, 2011 2:51 pm

    These posts have been very interesting to read. Im a 28 yr old white australian, and I hold the media responsible for any view of australia being an “overly” racist country.

    Yes racism occurs here, but its nothing like “1950’s america” as reported my lawrence fishburne and those who agree. I admit, I was never there in 1950’s america (obviuosly), but Im sure every person in the western world has at least a basic understanding of the racism of that era and area. – Australia included in part due to american interests dominating australian news, websites, music and entertainment, etc and etc.

    Yes the australian aborigines were treated terribley by “white australia” in the past. Are the majority of white australian individuals racist towards aborigines today? HELL NO.
    Those who would disagree either spend too much time looking for examples of racism and interperating said racism as the average white australian viewpoint, or have a different view of what racism is to me. If I were to say “I work with a lot of black fellas up at the mines”, Im not being racist….Im telling someone that I WORK WITH A LOT OF BLACk FELLAS UP AT THE MINES. Im not saying or attempting to alude to that I have a problem with aboriginal people. However, I understand that different countries and cultures may interpret otherwise. Additionally, australians often use exageration, dark humour, a “dead-pan” sense of delivery in conversation.

    The continual portrayal of australia being a racist country is nothing but confusing for the majority of “typical australians”. Our political stance of race related issues is not representative of the majority. Australian politicians are not representative of your average australian. These people live in cocoons and dont live and work in the same “class” and communities as us.

    If laurence fishburne felt a racist vibe in sydney, its probably because he was looking for it. He probably sensed others watching him (beyond what he could attribute to his celebrity) out of curiousity. I highly doubt he was denied service at a bar or denied a bus ticket (for example) because he’s black. If an african-american man is recieving glances, its up to him if he wishes to describe said glances are coming from the glancers racist attitude towards the glancee. Sometimes I find myself the recipetent of extended stares from chinese people. Are these people racist? possible, but I doubt it. They are probably wondering what time their son finishes soccer practice, or if the Harry Potter movie’s were adequatey faithfull to the novels. Who knows? who cares? Get on with your own life.

    Typical australians have regular contact with people beyond their nationality and race. Anywhere you find “white people”, there are “non-white people”. You will find the most bogan, beer drinking, meat pie eating, true-blue aussie probably has a good mate who is a wog, a stinking pom who is on his indoor cricket team, a curry muncher on the same unit at work, a jap who is his little sisters best friend. There is nothing racist about this, Its what we call eachother without any hint of hostility.

    American people had trouble understanding this when I was continually asked about racism in australia on both my holidays to the U.S. Im probably jumping to a very big conclusion but I couldnt help but feel that american people seem to ALLOW THE DISCUSSIONAL TOPIC OF RACISM TO DOMINATE EVERYTHING; and in doing so, look for and see racism everwhere in their own life.

    I believe my attempt to confront the headline grabbing issues like the cronulla riots and assaults of indian students will be dismissed as purely being the “typical” denial of racism in Aus from members of my demographic, but hear me out.

    These incidents happened and are terrible. The cronulla riots happened after a life guard was assualted, the assualt was used as a precedent for a revenge attack. Problem was, the news was drummed up through word of mouth by a few racists ringleaders and a mob mentality (a dispicable human trait). I garantee that many of the folks down there that day wouldnt be geniunely racist. The rioters are/would have been initially hostile against the small minority of middle-eastern young men who give the remainder of the arabic/middle-eastern australian population a bad name through diliberate anti-social behaivour often but not always aimed at white australians. The terrible problem was that the rioters took it upon themselves to use the assault on the lifeguard as a excuse to fight against any middle eastern looking person. My reaction to the news of these events was of shock, as was the majority of australians. And disbelief that Australian news decided to make hysteria by reporting that american news networks were broadcasting the riot. What the hell?!

    Lets take a step back for a minute. It was bad, terrible, embarassing, disturbing, and on and on. But it was a SERIES OF ASSAULTS. This was not a genocide or a US backed military invasion and slaughter of civilians.

  34. Bobo permalink
    16 August, 2011 7:05 pm

    LAwrence Fishburne is an idiot for complaining of only seeing a few black faces when he was shooting a film in Australia.

    I don’t think Australia can be blamed for not having enslaved black people. That’s why there aren’t that many black people in Australia compared to the USA.

    It’s really quite rare to see a black person in Australia – I see a black (non-Aborignal person) maybe once a month on average (if that) and I travel into the Sydney CBD every day for work so see thousands of people a day. And to be honest, most Australians who don’t live in rural areas would very rarely see any Aboriginal people most of the time. I go to Kings Cross sometimes and see drunk Aborigines, but other than there I never see any others.

    Black men (if they are halfway attractive) tend to be very popular with the ladies in Australia as there are so few of them – they tend to be seen as exotic and very appealing by the local ladies (and the gay men).

    I have only ever worked with one black person of African descent who was a lovely lady (she was our receptionist married to the hottest guy in the company who was white).

    Of course we have idiots who make stupid comments without thinking but i think its comparatively rare – of course I am white, so my experience is not representative of black people. I have visited America a lot and as a white person have seen a lot of racism and nasty anti-black comments by white people, particularly in the South of the USA, 100 times more than I have ever seen in Australia.

    If you are black, pls come and visit or work here. We are just people and while we do have some wankers, most people are nice.

    I will grant that Australia does not have a lot of experience with dealing with black people (like I said, you rarely see Aborigines unless you live in a country area, and black people of African descent are very rare for most Australians to see.

    That’s why when some Aussie medical specialist drs (including 2 Indians) went on an Aussie TV program “Hey Hey It’s Saturday” in blackface being the Jackson Five, it never occurred to them it might be considered racist and if it wasn’t for Harry Connick Jr being on the same show and complaining from an American perspective it wouldn’t have been a problem in Australia. People here just saw it as people doing a parody of a music group in a silly talent show.

    I feel that any slight black people may feel (the vibe that Fishburne mentioned) is more imagined by them than intended by the Aussies, but it is true that seeing a black American is quite rare.

  35. Neecey permalink
    10 September, 2011 7:04 am

    WOW…well, first, thanks to everyone because I am seriously considering moving towards an expat track and Australia is one of my top choices. It seems from that which I’ve admittedly only read that it is a place I might very much like to call home; however, it troubles me that on refreshing a little on the history of the country and issues of race in its society, I find that perhaps not much has changed. I like the diversity of perspectives, but being of mixed race in America (Black, i.e. descendant of slaves/Native American/Irish), I tend to want to hear the accounts of those more like myself to see if, well, for one, I find a kinship there, and also if I can apprehend some of what their experience is like through their words. Part of the reason I am looking to leave America permanently is because of our brutal history where race is concerned. At first my husband and I figured we would just leave once our kids were in college, but of late we’ve decided perhaps it’s time we leave sooner than later, as we believe things are only getting worse here, whatever that means for us or to you reading this.

    Australia was high on our list for many reasons, but now I’m a bit leery about moving there with my young children, as at the very least, in America currently we do not still have such marked abuse and harassment within our education systems, though we surely still have racial profiling issues, and plenty of teachers with the mindset that young Black children are not able to learn in the same ways as other children, depending on their home/community life. That I can deal with. I don’t know if I could deal with subjecting my child to an education system in which he will essentially be growing up as if he’s first generation post-Jim Crow in the US. I hope this is not the case, and that modern attitudes continue to enlighten the whole populace. But, seeing that Australia is also not immune to the tireless persecution of Muslims gaining steam world-wide is a compounding issue. Are we trying to find some perfect place where it’s okay to be Black and life is grand? Optimistically, yes, on some level. It’s a certainty that we do not want to spend the rest of our days in America… like, seriously, Black (/Irish/Native American, just like me) president and all… they can have it. Hopefully when we visit we’ll get a better sense of the different castes so to speak in our target cities and try to evaluate for ourselves just how far out of the proverbial woods Australia really is. Until then, again, thanks for posting here so people like me get a myriad of perspectives on which to ponder.

    Best to all,

    p.s. Kamilah, did u really really not take the job? :o)

  36. Neecey permalink
    10 September, 2011 7:19 am

    LOL… also, why do u think (rhetorical, really ask yourselves…) Black people in America are so obsessed with race? National policies and our societal mores are all based on race and class distinctions that have worked to disenfranchise millions (hundreds of millions) of Africans brought over and their descendants.. That’s why we want to know… well, Australia, you look somethin like America, in the sense that we have shared history in that white Europeans came to both our countries looking to take over land from the natives… and basically declared the land as theirs, yada yada, hundreds of years later here we are. That’s why we’re worried about race relations.. about raising our children in such a society where that kind of ‘finders’ keepers’ attitude will allow you to push native populations (after slaughtering the majority of them) to the outskirts of civilization, aka reservations, and proceed to claim the countries land and resources for your own society and keep it moving like that’s cool. If you like, say, tried to perhaps find ways to give back to the people what you took then I wouldn’t be so curious and worried. Instead, I wonder, will this really be any better than America? That’s anyone’s guess. But my family, we’re all fair-skinned with curly dark hair, so with so many prejudices against so many peoples, the last thing I want is to move my fam to a worse societal scenario. Especially so far away as the land down under. May as well move to Europe.

  37. 12 September, 2011 9:15 am

    Hi Neecey, good luck on your decision about where to go to be an expat. I originally came to Australia hoping to escape being part of American imperialism, tired of seeing my taxes go to pay for Guantanamo and wars all over the world, wars in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. Then I got to Australia and found that politically it’s actually quite similar to America.

    In terms of racism, as a white Anglo woman, that’s in some ways both harder and easier for me to judge than it would be for a person of color. On the one hand, I’ll never experience racism directed towards me. On the other hand, racists who know that it’s socially unacceptable to be overtly racist are rather more likely to make little racist comments to another white person, and I’ve heard some of that. My impression overall is that Sudanese and other African refugees experience quite a bit of racism (which has as much to do with their refugee status as their skin color); Aboriginal people and Lebanese-Australians are imagined (and treated) rather similarly to African-Americans in the U.S.; but African-Americans are seen as exotic and probably face less prejudice than any other people of color.

    Sydney, at least, is a very multicultural city full of immigrants like myself, and, of my kids’ best friends at school, Anglo-Australians are in the minority. Overall my impression is that you wouldn’t find it any worse to be a person of color here than in the U.S., and the Australian healthcare system is a thousand times better. And then there are the beaches, the friendly wild parrots, and the laid-back pace of life!

  38. 13 September, 2011 7:37 pm

    Hi guys

    Being a black guy myself and living in Europe, Ive rarely experienced overt Racism as you would in the typical Western country but I have been thinking lately of living and working in Australia for about 6 months to a year. The only thing that makes me a bit hesitant is reports from my (white) friends that say they didnt see a lot of black people there and in the media its portrayed as a very racist country. So I’m actually torn if i should go or not although there are some Australians here saying it’s okay to visit i still wonder if those type of Australians arent the majority and that the majority might in fact be close-minded and maybe racist

  39. 14 September, 2011 8:38 am

    Gaeten, I think it depends on where you go and whether you’re in the city or the countryside. Sydney is cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic and in most parts I doubt you’d experience any more racism than you would in any other European capital. On the other hand, I have a colleague who lives in a rural community 2 hours south of Sydney and he tells me that his neighbors make racist comments to him all the time. However, it’s the sort of racist comments that one white person makes to another white person — I doubt that they act anything other than courteous when they deal with a person of color. If you decide to come to Australia for a short period, you can find out for yourself without committing to emigrating here, and if you’d like to write about your own experiences and post an account of them here as an addendum to this blog posting, get in touch with me at lisa.wynn [at]

    Good luck with your decision, Lisa

  40. swirlqueen permalink
    14 September, 2011 4:23 pm

    Hi Lisa, Neecy et. al,

    I don’t think there is any place on Earth free of all racism. I experienced some in Germany so I think it is everywhere. Some places better than others but again, no place is racism free. Where my family lives now in North Pole, Alaska my daughter in 6th grade has experienced some at North Pole Middle School. She is biracial and I have tried to prepare her for life lessons at different intervals making everything age appropriate. So whether here in the US, or abroad racism is everywhere. Post racial is a myth in my opinion.

    I have 3 black American girlfriends living in Australia happy with their Aussie hubbies. Two are in Sydney, one is in Pearth and one is a single mom living in Canberra. I have a few African immigrant friends too. I have a couple Aussie male friends here as well married to black American women. One Aussie woman married to a black American man as well.

    Because I am a relationship/dating coach, I encourage black American women who want to date and marry interracially and internationally to seek opportunties in Australia and New Zealand. Many want to head toward Europe and the majority will go there, but again Australia is probably no different, better or worse than anywhere else. My next door neighbor just moved there with her entire family. The wife’s husband is from Sydney and they packed up and left. They are living wonderfully and enjoy the life. My friend is retired, but the daughter and son in law found jobs right away. Emigrating there is not so difficult I understand. So Neecy, your children will have unique experiences wherever you go. If you like, find me on facebook.

    All the best to you and your family!

    PS: Super Congrats to you Lisa. You are definitely an inspiration as I have sent many people to this post. Wonderful that you are getting responses so long after the original post Much continued success to you!

  41. 14 September, 2011 4:39 pm

    Thanks for your comments, Lorraine. Your perspective (and that of your friends) is really valuable, and this is something that I’ll never have any personal experience of! cheers, Lisa

  42. neecey permalink
    15 September, 2011 10:29 am

    Thanks so much to everyone for your helpful replies. Sad really cuz I’m sure most of u r right, and that regardless in this day and age we’ll have to have some sort of tolerance for the inevitable vestiges of prejudices against people of color. Still intrigued by Australia and will still look into those opportunities and visit as we planned. If so, hopefully we can connect with some of u there.

    One thing, tho I’m a bit reassured by the fact that black Americans in particular may enjoy less harassment for their sheer rarity, I’m still worried that in the same way it may still affect my kids negatively to appraise that all other dark skinned peoples besides themselves may have issues gettin along in society. But, like many of u have pointed out, what would be the difference from anywhere else? Still seems like a better quality of life may be enjoyed and of course there is also the fact that they have been born into a far more colorblind generation & may not even have the same hangups as my parents passed onto me from their experience in civil rights movement in America …

    Thanks again… hope we can keep conversation going. I’m curious about the opposition to green government policies as well. One would think being at the bottom of the world Australia would be doing everything possible to ensure ur population doesn’t evaporate in the heat of inevitable climate change. Alas, again, perhaps your society suffers the same loud mouth idiocy ours does. Ignorance sucks.

    Peace & luv,

  43. 16 September, 2011 9:08 am

    Hi Neecey, by all means get in touch when you visit Sydney! As for Australia’s lack of greenness, partly this is because the Australian economy very much relies on the mining industries and exporting raw materials. There are clear material incentives to extract, rather than conserve. But yeah there’s loud mouth idiocy everywhere I think.

  44. tina permalink
    17 September, 2011 2:33 pm

    Hi SwirlQueen,

    I’m glad that you posted because I’m an african american female who would like to date and marry interracially. Although it would be possible to do that in the U.S., I would like to go somewhere without all of the historical baggage. I know that I will encounter some racism but it couldn’t be as much as I have experienced in the U.S.

    I think most black women should leave the States if they want to grow and experience life on a clearer path. It’s good for our souls, healing, and self-discovery.

  45. Jubayer permalink
    5 October, 2011 7:39 am

    How much “overt” racism you experience is most likely a function of what you are like physically. It’s true AA tend to experience less “threatening” racism in Oz, mainly because they tend to be more athletic and muscular. Actually the group(s) I found that had the most difficulty in this area (being harassed and otherwise physically threatened) were: [1]Females [2]East Asian.

    Much was made in the media about the attacks on Indians in Oz, but I found that while there was a LOT of general racism towards them, it was seldom of a violent nature. In most of the scenarios where there was an “obvious” element of racism it could also be put down to being in the wrong place at the wrong time (e.g. walking alone at night in a violent neighbourhood). There was also a feeling that Indians were “soft touches” in regards to being victims of the assaults – which I feel will decrease once they become more modernised and physically intimidating i.e. when they are born in Australia as opposed to immigrating.

    However it was not uncommon to witness quite a bit of “physically intimidating” behaviour towards East Asians, including ones who were born there. I have quite a few friends of that extraction and while I found it quite surprising, they assured me it was not uncommon.

    So I’m putting a slightly different bent on this, because the No.1 issue for me would be security and safety. You WILL most certainly experience some amount of racism when you are not in cosmopolitan-mixed areas like Sydney; but it will seldom be of a violent nature. However, it pays to be prepared for this sort of thing. If you’re a dude, hit the gym and make sure you know how to defend yourself. The same goes for a woman but please try and ensure you stay away from dangerous areas especially at night. To do this, you should find out from locals where these zones are, and ask around (before going there, obviously!).

  46. 7 October, 2011 10:59 am

    White people, let alone secluded colonial White people who just showed up on the aboriginal’s islands, will never understand racism. It’s a lost cause with these hundreds of years behind mentality folks. They believe they are superior to the natives and have nicknames for Asians (who are FROM the Pacific) unlike their White selves. Come on, it’s an island full of misplaced White trash. Black folks beware, don’t visit there!! The actors who have and all my black friends who have been there say the same. There IS a vibe and don’t expect White people to get it because they will never understand it. They’re so quick to become all defensive and offended…..”who us???? We’re so chill and relaxed. We’re not racist”. You can feel it in the air. Imagine a far less sophisticated England with cabin fever as they’re stuck on an island. As a black American, trust me. Australia sadly is no place for black folks!!

  47. kaopo permalink
    10 October, 2011 1:50 pm

    The facts are: at the time, Australian Test Cricket matches (sponsored by KFC) were being held in the West-Indies, hence many Australian fans were in the West Indies at the time which is reflected in the ad.
    The product chosen is only because KFC sponsor Australian Cricket, it is not a racist generalisation about black people’s supposed love of fried chicken. If any other brand sponsored the cricket, no one would say anything or see anything wrong with a man offering a packet of M&M’s (or whatever it be) to a crowd of people – his opposition in this particular sporting match.
    “Imagine a far less sophisticated England with cabin fever as they’re stuck on an island.” – as for that, that’s just a whole lotta wrong. EVERY country has racists, and in comparison, (especially against the US) Australia is extremely liberal minded when it comes to race.

  48. Maryjane Pottman permalink
    17 October, 2011 6:46 pm

    I recently had a theory that scared me base on this same subject. African Americans and Aboirigines. We discussed it on a myspace forum. Aborigines were seperated through either migration or land mass breaks over 40,000 years ago. When neanthradals were still on the planet. They were Isolated until very recently. They are refered to as asian blacks. In reality they are really niether. While they are dark people they have features of Africans, Europeans and Asians. Some have kinky hair and every other variation found in mankind even straight. They are African but, they did not adapt to changing enviroments due to migration, climate or other changes in the habitat. They had no reason to adapt because their environment never really changed. So if you can Imagine Africa 40,000 years ago, this is what man looked liked. All different. Aborigines give birth to children with straight blond hair. That’s why I believe they are called Aborigine- the beginning.

    When ever the word aboriginal is used with other people such as the American Indian they say the are the aboriginal people OF the land. In are Australia they ARE aboriginal.

    They place the “discovery of Australia” in the 1850’s. I’m going to say this. People had built boats a long time ago and were able to get around. 1850’s was when they began the process of colonizing the land. In the America’s there is evidence that Africans had visited long before colonization not only them but they have found evidence that templars also visited a couple of hundred years before colonization. Remember it Templar was part of the church. The guy who sent Columbus on his mission of “discovery” was Henry the Navigator, a soldier for the church similar to the Templars.

    Have you ever wondered why Australia is it’s own continent seperate from the rest of the world? And why Aborigines only make up a small portion of the population?

    African Americans- We differ from Africans. Though we are still Africans. If you ever watch this sick slave flick called. “Goodbye Uncle Tom” which is supposed to based on fact. The slave BREEDER in the film had Africans and Indians force breeding them. He told the camera he was mixing black with a little white and Indian so in the end they will be niether.
    Many people don’t know but the three people mixed were pretty much homogeneous tribes. African tribes, tutonic tribes, and Asian American Indian tribes. The end result creates people with features that are African, European and Asian. Hair types of all variations. Dark children born with light colored hair. Almost a mirror image of the Aborigines of Australia. I say Almost because no one can play god and recreate a people.

    It’s scary, because one of the first things they did was to take children during the colonization process that had white features. It’s a fact look it up. I also watched a movie once with men sitting around discussing how to turn Aborigines into White men in 3 generations, I can’t recall the name of the movie it was on HBO one morning looks like it was made in the early 70’s. Aborigines are like genetic embryos, they haven’t adapted so their genes could provide people with adaptable genes for all earths environments. African Americans have all the adaptable genes of all the humans we are mixed with and able to survive in all earths environments.

    If a disaster hit the earth and the African Amercians or Aborigines survived hypothetically, someone could possibly use them to spin off people of any superficial race. A few white people can selectively force breed us with them to create a planet of all white people. Africans are adapted to their evironments it would take longer to acheive the goal.

    Color is only skin deep.

  49. 17 October, 2011 7:45 pm

    Mary Jane, thanks for contributing, but there’s a lot of inaccuracies in this comment. First, dates. Europeans “discovered” Australia in the 1600s — with 1606 being the first time a Dutch explorer set foot on the mainland. Other explorers made landfall at different times over the following centuries and in 1770 Captain Cook sailed up the East Coast and claimed it for Britain. Colonization, however, didn’t being to 1788, with the so-called first fleet that landed at what is now called Sydney.

    Regarding Aborigines, I don’t think there is any reason to say that they have not adapted since they left Africa. The ancestors of the Australian Aborigines would certainly have experienced different environmental conditions in the thousands of years of migration between Africa and Australia. Also, Australia itself has a very variable environment and different groups of Aborigines have been able to thrive in most all of them. Furthermore, it should also be noted that there wasn’t one single migratory wave into Australia but, as far as I know, at least three. Tasmanian Aborigines, for example, had quite different characteristics from those on the mainland at the time of European colonization. Adaptation to different environments within Australia certainly took place and Aborigines developed highly advanced social systems and technologies to cope with the sometimes extreme circumstances. However, in your comment you are conflating adaptation to environments with evolution, in that you say that Aborigines, because they “haven’t adapted”, would be identical to the ancestors of all humans. Evolution is not the same as social adaptation to an environment. This is the result of genetic mutations which are passed down in particular poputations because those with those mutations have been, for one reason or another, better able to pass on their genes. The general idea is that if some genes provide an adaptive advantage — i.e. making those who have them more likely to reproduce — they will become more widespread. Thus, it is not necessary for an environment to change for evolution to take place, merely that certain genetic factors outcompete others. Indeed, Darwin’s examples of animal adaptations showed how groups that were separated from wider genetic populations developed differently, not that they suddenly stopped evolving because they were cut off.

    The reason I pull you up on this is because you are reproducing the sort of narrative that has been used to paint Aborigines as static and (genetically and socially) primitive — i.e. your notion that they are “genetic embryos”. Unfortunately, these sorts of ideas have been the basis for a lot of racism, although I don’t want to suggest that this is your intention. I just want to point out that the sorts of points you make here don’t reflect how genetic adaptation takes place, and that these sorts of common sense understandings can unintentionally support some pretty regressive ideas.

  50. sasha permalink
    23 November, 2011 3:02 pm

    Obama is Black because in America if you do DNA on 86% of Black Americans you will find they have significant amount of White ancestry from being raped in slavery. Also there are many light skinned blacks often lighter and more Caucasian featured than Obama in Black America.

    People on this site comment about things they don’t know very much about.

  51. 11 December, 2011 9:39 pm

    So you decided to join?

  52. 4 January, 2012 12:42 pm

    This forum seems to be jumping all over the place, with no particular focus. That’s cool though. I guess the bits and pieces that everyone is throwing around, will help us come to a collective understanding of this human condition. I hope you’re all taking away as much as you can from this forum.

    On another note – I am a Black American Male, and will be studying abroad in New Zealand for 5 months – Auckland to be more specific. I hold business degrees in International Business, Finance & Marketing. Lets just say I can hold my own in the intellect department. I have friends of all descents and nationalities, and unlike others, I am not color blind. When individuals make that comment, it annoys me slightly. You may not be racist, but the reality is that there are many different colors, shades, shapes, and sizes of folks in our world. Each have their own chunk of realities and experiences that they bring to the table, and to ignore, dismiss, or diminish any of those realities and experiences, only helps to perpetuate the ignorance, and intolerance that is found in many parts of OUR world.

    I have a Black mother and a White father (stepfather) that raised me since I was 5. I come from a diverse household, and had no choice but to understand that there are differences in our world. My mindset may not have been like that of a Black kid that was raised by 2 Black parents, but I had the same experiences as those same Black kids, due to my skin color. Now, it’s a totally different story once someone sits and talks with me, as they will instantly see that I wasn’t just some ol’ run of the mill, stereotypical Black kid from a stereotypical Black neighborhood. I’ll digress here, but I believe my point should have hit home.

    Moreover, I do plan on doing some traveling to Australia (Sydney + Melbourne). To my understanding, I keep hearing that that Black Americans are a very much welcome addition to the Oceania stumping grounds, due to us being seen as exotic, or what not. I’m wondering how much this is true.

    Black American men may be popular with the ladies over there, but how does that affect the native men? Does Oceania’s womens’ affinity towards Black Americans inspire jealousy, or fear in these native men, on a general level? I love women to a very high degree, and was just wondering how many more weights I’ll have to lift to keep potential disgruntled natives off of me. ;O) Hilarious. I’m being silly, but seriously.

    I keep hearing opinions dished out about Sydney, but not so much Melbourne and Perth.
    Any takers?

  53. 9 January, 2012 1:59 pm

    JC, I think Melbourne is a very multicultural city – but we don’t have nearly enough African-Americans! When Oprah came to visit a couple of years ago, she brought along a lot of African-American women (friends and audience members) and I honestly wanted to make friends with all of them – I was waving at them from near the front of the stage. But I think they were more interested in watching Human Nature ‘perform’ Motown covers like The Four Tops’ ‘Baby I Need Your Loving.’ (Yes, it’s that type of place where Caucasian men have been trying to ‘cover’ black American music since the ’50s. And be prepared for ‘Aussie hip-hop’ like Hilltop Hoods!) Anyway, I think Australia is a weird place, because we’re exposed to so much African-American culture through music, TV and film, and so many girls here had crushes on famous African-American men when they were growing up, but then they look around, and there aren’t any African-American men here at all! Sometimes, there will be a man from an African country, though, like dancer/singer Timomatic, who was in ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and ‘Australia’s Got Talent,’ and it wasn’t long before he started dating fellow dancer from ‘SYTYCD,’ Talia Fowler! Anyway, please come and visit! 😀

  54. grace permalink
    16 January, 2012 7:33 am

    I am of Australian Aboriginal (east coast Koori) descent but for all intents look white. I have little understanding of those issues faced by Aboriginals who look different to me as I have never lived their lives. I am educated and I guess sensitive to how people feel so I make an effort to see what causes offence.

    And I guess that is what makes racism – if you are causing offence then it is being racist. That being said I have anglo looking friends who are racist towards anyone else and I have asian (s.e asian and indian) friends who let out some humdingers about anglos. Leb friends who have a go at wogs (southern europeans). Southern European immigrant friends that get knotted up about african immigrants. Sudanese friends that cannot stand the lebanese. Muslim friends that make derogatory comments about christians.

    Where I live in the often decried western suburbs of Sydney such as Blacktown (I kids you not about the name and yes it was named after the original inhabitants) you see all these races living together. And yes when you have all these people with different ways of doing things living together you do invariably have harrassment but really very little for the mix that is there. You see all the kids going off to school together, going to each other’s houses, and believe it or not learning tolerance of each other and sometimes understanding.

    I guess that is why Australians once they have been here a generation or two (and by then many have intermarried) tend to have a rather ummmm… how should we put it…. rather “black” sense of humour when it comes to race. Everyone is different to themselves so lets call a spade a spade. You have to have been here long enough to get it. Australians are inherrently racist but they really don’t give s*%t if your one of their mates, can share a drink, are dependable in a crisis they will see the real person underneath.

  55. grace permalink
    16 January, 2012 7:49 am

    If you want to see how Australians take the piss out everyone and as outsiders you may find this highly offensive – check out an Australian program called Shift and Swift – aired on our multi-cultural TV Channel SBS
    You will note that aboriginal and negro stereo types are mostly absent however it may give a hopefully humourous send up on Australian “minority” interactions.

  56. Selwyn permalink
    19 January, 2012 2:04 am

    I’m a black south african, and I read all these comments, and from what I read it’s quite evident that if you are a minority in OZ, you won’t be so comfortable, just like here in SA. The minorities aren’t comfortable coz my sisters n brothers don’t show our fellow countrymen(white saffas,indian saffas,colored saffas) that much compassion, I guess due to the past

  57. Rudy permalink
    31 January, 2012 5:25 am

    Hi, I’m Italian, my wife is Italian both white. We are adopting a black baby in Africa and then we will move to Brisbane. How do you see this? Do you think our son will be discriminated?

  58. 31 January, 2012 12:36 pm

    Hi Rudy,

    Congrats on your adoption. I am sure you and your wife will make a wonderful home for your child regardless of where you live. There are good and bad people everywhere in every city on this earth and I just hope you can concentrate on being good parents and raising your baby well. I live in North Pole, Alaska and I have seen some things here that I don’t like but the good outweighs the bad. A lady was sitting next to me while waiting for my car windshield to be repaired. Another seat became available at which time she promptly got up and moved. I looked at her and went right back to work on my laptop. She had the problem not me. My children’s teachers are all white and we have not had any problems at all with them. None based on race anyway. Live your life in Brisbane if that is where your opportunities will take you. There are places that are better than others but again, all you have to do is concentrate on being good parents. You will not be able to protect your son from the world’s ugliness, racism and discrimination, but you can try to prepare him or her for it when the time comes, wherever it may be. All the best to you.

  59. Brandon permalink
    8 February, 2012 4:51 pm

    Hi Rudy,

    I’m an Anglo Australian living in Brisbane.
    From my own, friends and backpackers experiences in Brisbane, racism is really a non-issue. It is a very small percentage of Australians regardless of creed or colour that harbour racially based hostility to other people. The media has a sensationalist approach when it comes to racism. Black, white, asian, muslim, hindu etc has no impact on how people treat others in my experience, it’s all to do with the individuals attitude and personality.

    However, my friends and I all live in the inner suburbs. I have not seen anything that could be interpreted as racism in areas such as New Farm, West End, Fortitude Valley and Southbank. So my advice would be stick to the inner suburbs as people in these areas tend to be a lot more open minded. I do not think your son will be discriminated against.


  60. Lisa permalink
    9 February, 2012 3:52 pm

    I don’t usually read through comment threads (and I rarely leave a comment), but I’m glad I did on this one. Reading all of the comments has been really informative, eye-opening, and thought provoking. I’m a young African-American (or black!) woman and proud. However, I love to travel and I’m in the process of interviewing for a job in Oz. Travel and experiencing new cultures is important to me so, if I get the job I’m definitely taking it! Racism, prejudices, and bigotry are unfortunate flaws within humanity, but at the core it’s just perpetuated fear and ignorance. For previous commenters who mentioned “passing” on opportunities to visit Oz due to other peoples experience, I think that would be a shame. I’m not saying that there isn’t any racism there, hell its everywhere, just don’t let the fear and ignorance keep you from seeing the world around you.

  61. tina permalink
    11 February, 2012 2:45 am

    I agree. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to experience life differently. I think you will face some form of discrimination no matter who you are or where you’re from. The point is not to let it stop you from living or you’ll end up wasting your life away on the silly roadblocks you’ve allowed people to place in front of you. I’ll be moving to Oz as soon as I can get into a good school. I’m black american and would love to leave the U.S. and never return.

  62. Lorraine permalink
    11 February, 2012 5:21 am

    Right on Lisa. I wish you all the best in your journey if you get that job. Even if you don’t you have the right mindset and will still be successful no matter where you set your sights. I hope you do get to Oz and live your life and by doing so, will inspire many that you may never even know about. So again all the best to you. Is “Out of the Doldrums” your Tumblr page? I would love to communicate with you and hope you share your strategies.

    Tina, are we Facebook friends? I encourage you to seek out those academic opportunities and go since you are also determined to get there. There are a few school that will allow you to use student loans so you may want to check that out as well. Don’t know if you checked out FAFSA, but their facebook page has some international schools that accept student loans. Good luck and look me up on Facebook if we are not already friends. (I have so many, lol).

  63. nativerenegadebarbie permalink
    11 February, 2012 3:14 pm

    Australia unlike America doesn’t get technical about what a black person is suppose to be.
    It’s different in Australia because it’s the few western country with indigenous black were not bought in slavery to foreign lands.

    Aboriginal Australians don’t define blackness of by what outsiders think Is black because it is our country after all.Many immigrants who come to our shores don’t want to go back to they’re home country or have no choice.

    Aboriginality is seen has a heritage you are honouring your family your past ancestors which is engraved in the culture.It seen as disrespectful if you deny your Aboriginality and is frowned upon by elders.The elders always talk about bloodlines in a poetic way that outsiders don’t understand.

    many Aboriginal Languages have gone extinct and many now aren’t in written languages.
    The biggest issue of all is Aboriginal culture rarely influences mainstream Australia.
    I grew up in North Australia which is unique because it has a large population of Blacks unlike Melbourne or Sydney.

    There is a saying that white Australia has a black history.

  64. 12 February, 2012 3:57 am

    Lorraine- Thank you for kind words and I would definitely like to communicate with you. I love any opportunity to talk about traveling. Out of the Doldrums is my tumblr, but I also have a travel/food blog (I’m a culinary school grad- CIA!) Do You Speak Cilantro?

  65. Beauty Nzimela permalink
    8 March, 2012 8:55 pm

    do u know of any black south africans in Sydney???or black ndebele speak people from Zimbabwe

  66. Kudos permalink
    25 March, 2012 11:57 am

    Iam a black guy from Africa(Zambia) living in Perth.My experiences so far is that Australia seems to have been left behind in the whole Multicultural and Multi-ethnic Societies & only recently got on board, maybe with the exception of European & to some degree Asian people who have a much rich history as compared to people of African decent or Muslims (Arabs).
    When i watch tv,the only black faces i see are the ones on American tv shows,you rarely even see the natives on tv unless its in the negative sense
    & when Africa is brought its always the usual universal perception of war & starvation which is not the case.You dont see any famous aboriginal tv or movie stars,athletes or sport stars(exceptions in sport include cathy freeman & a few others).
    If you want to be a model & your not white then forget it ,

    I been called a black ****,monkey,nigga,plus the whole thing with the ‘BOAT PEOPLE’ saga were you are considered a boat person if you’re an immigrant etc
    Those experiences really hurtful coming from a background were our colonial masters(British) granted independence way back in the 60’s before i was born & never experienced blatant racism,some of that racism is not all from aussies but from immigrants themselves especially from European decent.For example i was called kaffa by a south African & ive also had bad runnings with the irish & british,the way this is all because of the nature of my job which is public relations so i get to interact with alot of people.

    On the positive side i think most aussies are good people & are willing to embrace people of all cultures & backgrounds,but it also depends adapting to the aussie way of life.
    In my case i speak very good English to the point were most people actually think i was born here but get surprised that ive been here for only 3yrs.This has helped get acceptance as compared to people who cant speak English therefore adapting becomes difficult.
    i would encourage people to come here & im not saying its bad or good but its a working progress.

  67. 27 March, 2012 1:51 am

    Hi, I would answer to Abiose. once in sud afrique one that I take for broh
    told me ‘ah, life is shit!’…now, ten years later I carry on to think his words and I still don’t find an answer. maybe just because we were living a street rasta project, I don’t know. I don’t know what colour I am, I think just I am muslim and this sound like an assumption that we are not made of colours but by words with witch we make the world get a lot of colors. sure! should say someone!
    for our language it is not matter of modernization like many europeans think. they are looked inside concept and they cannot to imagine beyond because,it could be an absurd for someones,they are analphabets. in europe we are living in the middle of the medio-evo still in spite the greats celebration of progress shut by media and common sense.

    there was’nt been here the great relation with the revelation and our cultural dimension is grounded on a big conceilment. the modernity, for istance, is taken for someones like and ideological joint with the ancient greek as if the roman cattolic experince were not. in trust they were the first to reificate their power with this joint. think patristic or scolastic for istancel

    europe is a mith, just a negative mith. I can save some joints with neoplatonism for his struggle against mythology but nothing of the modernity got a trutfull root.

    يا الصَّلَمَ بِعَاَمِ

  68. 14 April, 2012 12:33 pm

    Hi Lisa,

    Your article is a real contribution to humanity, not least of all because of the discussion it generates. I was referred to this post by Lorraine and after reading through your article and everyone’s comments I was moved to share some of my own experiences as an African Australian [possibly the first]. Yes, I’m making up my own terminology because there probably isn’t enough of us yet to be called a minority.

    I have been referred to as black for my whole life which has mostly been lived in Melbourne. In my experience it’s the Indigenous Australians and people with African ancestry that are referred to as black here. Most other ethnicities would be differentiated somehow, there would be a qualifier or a completely different word used to describe them. Lots of examples in previous comments, but more importantly you would have gathered your own experiences by now and we all see the world through unique eyes.

    In peace.

    My response to your article was more than 3000 words so I posted it here…

  69. Harrison permalink
    31 August, 2012 11:12 am

    I have not been to Australia but many of my friends are Aussie. I cannot say for everybody but from my anedotal evidence, most of Aussies I have meet have been great. In my younger years we all drank, eat, and played around. I have lived in Japan for this decade of my life and I still have to say the my really close friends have been Australians.

    I am American and black, both parents can track their history far back in American history. I have had more trouble with other blacks in my home country growing up than I have ever had with Aussies. I know it was the eighties but I don’t look mix, I just supposedly ‘talk white’. I think racism exist everywhere and it doesn’t have to be just one ethinic group against another.

    However if you are afraid to go out and try something new then maybe travel or relocation isn’t for you. We live in a world where it is getting increasingly easy to communicate with others. You literally can find or start a community of people you would like to hang out with.

    On another note, I once had a South African friend who was lily white refuse to write down an ethnic group other than African American. She had immigrated over to the states and as she said to me I am more African than you. She was right I haven’t been to Africa. I really couldn’t at that time tell you te sate of any African country. How people imagine themselves might not correlate to how you would classify them.

    When you go to another country you get to experience another world. You may just fall in love with Australia and you may just hate it. However, I’m telling you from the kid called ‘The Oreo’, where ever you go with whomever you meet, there are no guarantees that you aren’t going to experience racism.

  70. swirlqueen permalink
    2 September, 2012 2:09 pm

    Loved your response Harrison. Profound and insightful.

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