People Are Sharing Their Stories Of Everyday Racism And It’s Timely AF

Racism isn’t just for “racists”.

1. Of all the days to announce an overhaul of Australia’s race hate laws, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull chose today, March 21, the “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination”.

Andrew Sheargold / Getty Images

It’s also known as “Harmony Day”, which is supposed to be Australia’s national day for celebrating diversity.

Instead, Turnbull said that the government will remove the words “offend, insult and humiliate” from the Racial Discrimination Act, to be replaced by the word “harass”.

2. Chef Adam Liaw used the occasion to write about racism in Australia in 2017.

for outsourcing customer care to The Philippines (not really their call). All stressed they “weren’t being racist”. I believe that 100%.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

I accept dealing with a customer service is stressful. I also accept maybe they would’ve spoken like that to white staff too. I don't know.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

But I can guarantee you it’s much, much easier to be rude to someone you don't think is your equal.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

Not one racial epithet was said, and nobody was being "racist". But this is racism. Racism isn't just for "racists".

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

Our politicians will argue a lot today about who has the right to say racist things, and whether it should be criminal.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

I’ve had my accent (do I have one?) mocked THOUSANDS of times. I’ve been told to go back to where I came from THOUSANDS of times.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

I’ve been called a ‘gook’, ‘nip’, ‘ching-chong’ or any number of racist names THOUSANDS of times.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

My beautiful, adorable kids will be called those names. I KNOW that because it’s happened to every single Asian person I know in Australia.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

They’ll be physically abused for their race, too. I KNOW that because it’s happened to every single Asian person I know in Australia.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

I cried a bit typing that, but that's life.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

The odds of me, or them, bringing legal action around it are next to nil. Amend 18C or don’t. I truly don't feel strongly about it.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

But don’t pretend it solves the problems we have in this country with race either way.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

The racism I worry about isn’t getting abused on a bus while someone films it on their phone. Or running into “a racist” in a dark alley.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

Most Australians aren’t racists. Neither are the kids who will one day tease my kids for their race. The racism I worry about is systemic.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

It’s under-representation media, boardrooms, or the slightest inkling that kids with brown skin are less Australian than if they were white.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

I’m lucky to do what I do. Maybe for it Asian-Australians of my kids’ generation won’t grow up thinking they need to be somebody’s sidekick.

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

I don’t mean to come across as preachy or anything, but thanks for listening. Happy #HarmonyDay!

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw)

23. Writer Benjamin Law responded by starting the hashtag #FreedomOfSpeech, calling on others to share their stories.

At the age of 10, I was at the local pool as a group of white boys held my head underwater, laughing at me for being Asian. #FreedomOfSpeech

— Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw)

24. People were keen to tell their story.

Being so generic brown that dude couldn't figure out which racial slur to use. He tried them all #FreedomofSpeech

— ainsindahouse (@ainsindahouse)

25. #FreedomOfSpeech was the number one trending topic around Australia on this momentous day.

Last year explained what structural racism is on JJJ and two white dudes tracked me down online to berate me. #FreedomOfSpeech

— Bhakthi (@bhakthi)

#FreedomOfSpeech a cop saw me with my (black) boyfriend and gave me unsolicited DV hotline numbers @mrbenjaminlaw

— milleficent (@mymillshake)

Childhood years: 1. Where are you really from? 2. Where is your camel? 3. Why don't you wear a towel/sheet/rag on ur head? #FreedomofSpeech

— TM (@hayes_tm)

When I was 10 my best mate told me he "didn't like Aboriginals", but he couldn't say why. They start em quick in Australia #FreedomofSpeech

— Alex McKinnon (@mckinnon_a)

Mother w child asks if I am Persian (Kardashian enthusiast?) before stating she "doesn't like foreigners" #FreedomOfSpeech @mrbenjaminlaw

— Tara Kenny (@wordsbytara)

2010: a man yells out that I'm a "coconut" while I'm eating breakfast with my Mum. I just wanna eat breakfast peacefully... #FreedomofSpeech

— Faustina Agolley (@Faustinathefuzz)

Getting asked if I'm an au pair when hanging out with my white friend's kids (this has happened more than once) #FreedomOfSpeech

— Yen-Rong Wong | 黃彥蓉 (@inexorablist)

Being called an abo, coon, boong, coconut, darkie, etc etc before the end of primary school #FreedomofSpeech

— Sharon Davis (@AETLCEWA)

When your uni peers sitting beside you have a loud discussion about how much they hate Asians for not doing work "right". #FreedomOfSpeech

— putangina (@arielnano)

Yr 7 teacher thought it was hilarious to encourage classmates to call me 'Wog-io' and 'Spaghettio' instead of Lessio. #FreedomofSpeech

— Nicole Lessio (@NicoleLessio)

35. Australia’s first female Indigenous MP Nova Peris then posted the disturbing abuse she received while in office.

#FreedomofSpeech

— Nova Peris OAM (@NovaPeris)

36. It couldn’t have been more timely.

#FreedomofSpeech

— Nova Peris OAM (@NovaPeris)

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Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.
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