Racism and Xenophobia

With the UK exit from the EU (Brexit) and the recent Australian Senate results, there has been a dramatic increase in expressions of xenophobia and racism in both the UK and Australia. As someone with a Chinese background, I am obviously saddened and concerned by this increase in hatred towards those who don’t look ‘white’ as it makes me feel more conspicuous and vulnerable in my difference. While I know it’s a minority of people who are racist and xenophobic, I am also aware of the systemic racism within Australia against the Chinese (referring to the White Australia Policy) and the fact that it’s yet another generation affected. I actually miss that part of living in London where the majority of non-whites were from Afro-Caribbean or Indian/Bangladeshi descent and due to my having Chinese descent and being in the minority of the minority, paradoxically experienced less race-based animosity. In fact any casual racism I experienced was more due to my being Australian – and that was always well meant!racism

It’s hard to change the views and opinions of those who are so steadfastly racist and xenophobic. Instead what we can do to combat it is raise our own levels of self-awareness, gain greater compassion and understanding for ourselves and for others, and speak out to support those who might be experiencing any type of bullying.  What we all want is a voice – to be heard. We all want to have equal access to equal pay, to education, health services, jobs, transport, real estate – and it’s in the creation of these things that we will have them, not through blaming others and casting others out. We all have a responsibility to care for and respect each other – regardless of and because of our differences, which is also our challenge.

There are many great quotes from the recently deceased Auschwitz Survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel, but I’ll end with this one which expresses to me the power of one voice: “Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.”