Several days ago, a number of racist posters were found around two Melbourne universities, including this message: "Attention! This is a place that prohibits Chinese people to enter. Any offence is subject to prosecution or possible deportation."
The universities included my alma mater -- Monash University.
Was shocked when seeing this post that said Chinese students are not allowed to the building otherwise they'll be deported! pic.twitter.com/LV2ZXkw3PM— Lisa Lu (@lisatinglu) July 24, 2017
I'm incredibly glad I graduated from Monash last year, because I know if I had seen that poster I would've walked around campus with a significant level of discomfort and fear.
Luckily I can't read Chinese though...
Now, I'm not actually Chinese -- I was born in Singapore and moved to Australia when I was 10. Since then, it's been the 'green and gold' all day, every day.
However, I feel those posters weren't there to draw distinctions, they were meant for anyone who looked Chinese -- which includes me. And I guess that's what racism attempts to do, to remove cultural nuance and blindly divide.
And hey, I get it. The misconception is that the Chinese come to this country, drive up our property prices, buy all our baby formula and don't make an effort to engage with the rest of society.
Now don't get me wrong, this is not me sympathising with the poster bandits, because as we've seen time and time again, stereotypes very rarely apply to an entire population.
To the 'Poster Bandits':
I do wonder how often you've had conversations, actual conversations, with a Chinese person let alone one of those students your poster was targeted at.
'They don't speak English' -- I hear ya'll moan.
Again, another misconception assumed of a people. There are plenty of Chinese that speak English perfectly.
Actually go talk to someone who's Chinese. I know a Chinese guy whose family has been living in Australia for six generations. He's as Aussie as they come.
Ask about their family. Ask about their jobs. Ask about their lives. You might be surprised how alike we all actually are.
Better yet, go to China -- because when I did I better understood the people.
They have specific shops selling international goods because the locals don't trust locally made produce. A box of Lindt chocolate was $50AUD and tin of tiny baby formula was $70AUD.
In 2008, approximately 300,000 Chinese babies got incredibly sick when it was discovered locally made baby formula was being adulterated with melamine causing significant kidney damage. Six babies died.
'Oh so that's why they send stuff back home from here...'
Don't go around plastering posters that target an entire population and culture, which you have no understanding of. People all around the world come to Australia for opportunity -- opportunity that we sometimes take advantage of. Instead of reacting with fear and misunderstanding, we should embrace global difference as strength within our social fabric.
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And, to the ethnic community:
Because we aren't completely innocent either.
When I shared a screenshot of the poster on Instagram, I got a message saying: "Australia's favourite pastime."
Simply put, I'm sick of this attitude. We go around pleading not to be painted with the same brush of stereotypes and misconceptions, but our response to events like this is 'Oh, they're all the same.'
That's just not good enough anymore. We cannot make the rest of the population the enemy every time we feel targeted.
We are so incredibly lucky to live in this amazing country, and the majority of our fellow citizens only wish the best for each other. Incidents like this, few and far between, do not reflect the intentions of wider society.
Every time we react to fear with fear, every time we react to malice with malice -- we take multiple steps back. And, I don't know about you guys, but I'm tired of going backwards.
We're better than this. All of us -- white, black, yellow, everything in between -- we are all better than this.