I was sitting on the train recently when a group of young high school students boarded the train. Among them was a tall boy with curly bleach blond hair and skin fairer than snow. As I was admiring the curls on the young boy’s head and wishing my 4C hair would be as receptive to curl activator, I heard a young girl behind me, in an innocent little voice say:

 “Daddy look at that boy’s hair. It’s ugly.” 

Sitting in front of the pair, I can only imagine, judging from her comment, that the young girl was between 5-9 years old, Caucasian, and with straight hair. I waited to hear the father’s response to the child’s comment but only heard:

“You shouldn’t say that.”

I was shaken and began trying to understand how a little girl could already hold such perverse opinions about beauty. It was not until recently that I realised that small comment stemmed from a deeply rooted yet handsomely disguised issue in Australian society: racism.

For too long, racism in Australia has been advertised to not exist. “Come live here,” they say, “we don’t use the n-word as often.” For too long we’ve shied away from discussing and celebrating our differences; that now, our loud and colourful cultures have been branded disorderly and our straight black faces murderous. Yet, like a child who believes he is invisible by closing his eyes, we’ve come to believe that if we don’t talk about racism, it simply won’t exist.

It started as the “fear of terrorism” religiously preached on most of our news outlets. Now, it is the newfound fear of dark-skinned men since the exposure of Apex, a Sudanese gang, and the massacre of a Muslim community in New Zealand.

As our safety is called into question, the conversation can no longer be avoided.

As I reflect on the state of the Australian media and its political influences, I cannot help but see the major cause for the comment made by the child on the train. There is no representation, no awareness, no inclusivity and therefore no discussion. I look on the TV screen and it doesn’t look like the world I see when I walk outside. So much so that most of my community has limited our career choices to being confined behind a desk or disguised in a doctor’s robe because of the probability of failure associated with anything else. The conversation is long overdue. We cannot sit in gratitude just for being allowed to stay.

We must create dialogue and address racism and its catastrophically exponential effects on Australian society.

If we do not, there’s a high probability that young white children, like the girl I heard on the train, will become an influential adults who despise difference.

I am willing to start a conversation. How many others are willing to do the same? To speak. To listen. And to become a catalyst for the change that Australia so desperately needs.

(Featured Image Credit: The New Daily)

Tags: australia racism in australia
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