, I don't mind being asked what my nationality is, unless it's asked with an undertone, the kind of undertone that won't accept "Australian" for an answer, even though it is true - and most of the time the people who asked me that question in Australia asked it with an undertone. But in London, for example, when I was working there, if people asked it, there was no undertone, but generally surprise at the answer, "Oh wow, we thought you were continental European!" and I'd laugh and say, "Well, that's where I was born, so good guess!"
In Sydney, people tended to ask, "What's your cultural background?" and not with an undertone, when they got to know you, and share theirs. That's perfectly fine - and also how I tend to ask about it, because of course I'm really interested in people's cultural backgrounds - and I don't assume they don't belong here because they're not Anglo or whatever. The question about nationality
in Australia tends to be loaded, and tends to come from ignorant and uneducated white people. So do all the slurs I recounted before. The "Go back where you came from" line is so common here that our multicultural broadcaster SBS made a documentary of that name, which educated some of those people, like in this excerpt below, where they took white Australians to Syria to see the refugee crisis at first hand:
The way Australia has been treating genuine refugees lately has been appalling, especially considering how huge our intake of non-urgent migrants is. My family didn't need to come here - we had economic security and a home already, and nobody was bombing us. But because of my father's bank balance, they rolled out the red carpet immediately. You can basically buy your way into Australia, and then make no contribution to the community whatsoever on a personal level. My parents simply retired here in their 40s - neither of them ever worked here, or volunteered in the community. Their contribution was merely economic, sort of like a paying hotel guest.
I've taught lots of immediate economic migrants, and some refugees, and they tend to be very motivated and community-orientated. If the mainstream Australian culture doesn't let them in socially, and/or harasses them, they are sort of forced to have community with people of similar backgrounds, who at least understand them and treat them with decency.
It was an eye-opener teaching at Sydney Girls High School, an academically selective school. Less than 10% of the students were "white" Australians - the vast majority were Chinese, or Korean, or from other Asian countries - this was before the Syrian refugee crisis. It was a total pleasure to teach there. Those cultures simply have a better work ethic and value education and good manners more than mainstream Australian culture, which can be really anti-intellectual, rude and disinterested in working hard. I've taught at some schools in certain uneducated white quarters where the students want to do as little as they can possibly get away with - they actively avoid working. That's also the kinds of communities where most of the racist slurs and hatred come from. It's the sort of milieu in which our home-grown Australian terrorist who bombed people in Christchurch recently is totally at home in. If you want to know what I am talking about, go to YouTube direct and read some of the comments there that were made on SBS's "Go Back Where You Came From" clips. It's appalling. I don't know why such horrible people think they are so Australian. These are the "yobbos", really. They're actually the worst people in this country, and the least deserving of being in our community. We shouldn't tolerate their behaviour.
Just in case anyone gets the wrong impression, I've also taught at lovely schools with majority-white populations, where kids were fun and motivated. But this was in communities where education and hard work were valued. In these communities, students from other ethnic groups tend to be included just like everyone else. I've got to praise Australian Catholic schools in particular here, because every single one of them that I set foot in had a wonderful, inclusive, multicultural ethos. In areas with lots of yobbos, the "ethnic" kids tend to be sent to Catholic schools to avoid bullying. It actually really helps when these kids are taught from the time they are tiny that humans come in all colours and shapes - and Catholics do that really well, in the Australian education sector. It's one of the reasons I really enjoyed teaching there, despite not being Catholic. Also, these schools are very good at social justice projects - campouts for the homeless where they themselves spend a night in the school grounds with just a cardboard box and some blankets etc, and raise funds and awareness, as well as experiencing "how the other half live". Activities to support refugees, etc. And if you go to the church services for the students, which as staff you do, it's really wonderful how "those who are less fortunate than us" are remembered each and every time, and "how can we help".
, we have a nice and quite sizeable Filipino community here in Albany, and they're a total pleasure to interact with, and to teach; and a good influence on other students! Also, they have the best
lunchbox contents... nutritious food home-prepared with love and care. Re the being jumped on, that happened to me, but I was younger and smaller than my cohort here and had no fighting skills. It also happened to my husband as a child - lots of yobbos at his school - and he's got strong tendencies to be a hermit as an adult. It's lovely that his workplace is great - full of friendly, genuine people who are also well educated. They're always exchanging books amongst each other!
, I am not surprised about the concealment. I changed my surname just before university graduation and immediately noticed a difference in the way I was treated by certain parts of the community. My accent is international, and very few pick me as German-origin (but I'm also part-Italian) based on that. It was helpful to not wear the obvious label when joining the workforce, and not to advertise that English was my second language (it's my primary language anyway, by a long shot). After that, mostly people guessed I was of South African origin, which didn't come with the same baggage. It's all very silly!