I Love and Hate my Sunburnt Country

I’ve been reading some blogs today, especially my friend RoboMum’s blog and she asked about ranting.

Ranting is something I do on a frequent basis. Ranting is something I did quite a bit of today.

I live in Sydney. I have lived here my whole life. I’ve travelled a little, Europe, New Zealand and the east coast of Australia, but I’ve never lived anywhere else but here. Sydney is very much my home and I love this city dearly, about as much as I hate it too.

Sydney’s a funny old place. Some amazingly affluent suburbs surrounded by the poorest of the poor (think of the very wealthy Eastern Suburbs and Kings Cross) and some essentially forgotten about, ‘ghetto’ suburbs. Social experiments that had disastrous results and repercussions that are lasting decades (think Claymore and Shalvey).

The actual geography of the Sydney metropolitan area is enormous. According to Wikipedia, there are 4.6 million of us, living within 12,144.6 km2 (4,689.1 sq mi) of land. Comparing us to Singapore, where nearly 5.5 million people live in just 710 km2 (274 sq mi) of land, we do really well here.

We have access to an awful lot of social services, such a health and education. If we can’t find work, we have access to government assistance. It’s not a bad set up we have here.

Which is why today, I got on my high horse and ripped into people on the Internet who were being wrong! It seems to me that some Sydneysiders truly believe that they are better than others and that they should have exclusivity to certain areas of Sydney.

I’m a south western Sydney native, who currently lives in north western Sydney. I grew up in amongst hundreds of cultures and languages. Big lunch consisted of sharing salami, baklava and Twisties, which was awesome. I had friends who taught me to swear in Italian, Arabic and Vietnamese and it was awesome.

So imagine my dismay, when I read this quote on my local newspaper’s Facebook page this morning regarding the proposed new railway line being built:

I spend a lot of time online and there appears to be a worrying increase in the occurrence of vandalism and crime reported in the *North West*. Where traditionally it was a quiet area, it now appears to have changed dramatically.The perpetrators of the anti social and criminal behaviour are mostly not residents of the *North West* area, but appear to have travelled from areas along the Cumberland Highway which is a direct route from the southwest area of Sydney to the *North West* districts. The first experience I personally had was in the car park at The *Club* when it first opened under that name. As a frequent visitor to the *North West* RSL at night for over 15 years, we greatly anticipated the state of the art upgrade. But what I saw was a dramatic increase almost immediately in the mediterranean youth. Drugs were being bought and sold in a rather public manner and the car park was packed with hotted up vehicles and the car park stairways were littered with these youths who were belligerent in manner and unashamedly blocked the walkways. Swearing, loud behaviour and a trendy dress dripping with gold jewellery was a complete change to the more conservative regulars. I stopped attending a night, have gradually ceased going to the club at all, in protest and through fear of safety, to this attraction for troubled youth. The club catered for this group, and the regulars and members now had to now line up to gain entry, surrounded by non english speaking youths.Everyone now had the same name bra or bro. The new management of the RSL had completely dismissed the need for the once very popular community gathering agenda, and now focused solely on the new money. Huge bouncers at the doors replaced the friendly door greeters, and the Police vehicle sirens now scarred the quiet and peace, particularly at night and on weekends.

It turns out, when challenged and she got defensive, this bigot has a ‘Lebanese’ son in law and a Malaysian daughter in law, so it’s ok to say these things because she’s totes multicultural and stuff. I’ll bet she even eats garlic on special occasions.

Another winning North West resident:

*Previous Poster* you are my long lost twin. you couldnt have said it better.
you can stand outside *Shopping Centre* and know who is and isnt from “round here” – alot of people come from parra and blacktown to *Shopping Centre* now, it used to be people i knew, now we are deterred and fit in our shopping between lunch in the city.

(I’ve only changed the names of people and locations, the spelling and punctuation remains as posted on the public forum)

To which I replied:

You lot disgust me. This ‘us and them’ attitude, it’s Australia, we are multicultural. Get over it.

So then the justification of casual racism started.

*Addressed to me*. I think the ‘us’ and ‘them’ statements refer to people who are from our area and other people/youths from areas other than the *North West* who’s behaviour in our community is cause for concern.
I personally am not looking forward to the new rail link. As I’m sure it will bring with it a lot of unwanted bad behaviour, loitering and crime.
*(Edited sentence out, it was long and pointless)*
It would be nice if there was some way to ensure that people getting on a train headed for communities in the *North West* were either going to/from home, to an event/party or the shopping malls. Specially late at night. Loitering youths from other communities with nothing to do shouldn’t be able to get on a train and loiter here either. It invites problems and crime and residents will begin to feel at risk and unsafe.

To which I bit back (because I was fired up by now):

*Previous Poster*, I wish that was the language that the previous posters had chosen to use. They didn’t though and specified areas of the world where they assumed the ‘perpetrators’ came from, and coming from those areas, must mean they are riff-raff. It just seems not enough of us are trying to stamp out casual racism in our society. So when there is a platform (such as the *Railway*) the people who are ‘not racist, but…’ come out in droves. I know I’m kidding and really idealistic by trying to post a valid argument here when it know it will fall on deaf ears, after all the attitude wins elections and is sanctioned by the very people in our society, the politicians and media, who should be using their influence, to do their bit to stamp it out.

Then this little cracker from another winning North West resident:

^ I think a part of the whole “im not racist but” has two sides. One, there is still lots of racism going on, but on the other hand, that words gets chucked around like nothing else. If you dont agree with somebody’s religion, you get called racist. Even when religion is not a race. If you disagree with a cultural trait of a group of people, you get called a racist, even when culture isnt defined solely by race. In general, i think its naive to ignore the fact that some areas are more rough than others. its all about uprbringing and culture, race has nothing to do with it.

20130620-235600.jpg

So that was me even though I was reading the damned thing online. Not content with not having the last word, I sunk the boot in:

It has nothing to do with disagreeing, but everything to do with judging. Sure there are areas where crime is more prevalent, however to suggest that the *North West* has none and it’s an idyllic utopia of beauty and wonder is just naive. To blame it on “Mediterranean” looking people (I’m not making this up, read all the comments) is racist. I’m not throwing the term around loosely, I’m calling a spade a spade.

I must have bored the bigots because they didn’t come back for more (disappointingly). I really don’t believe that they learned something from me today (disappointingly).

What concerns me most, is that this society we live in, has so much wrong with it. I see great community spirit in times of natural disasters and in times of trauma and sadness. When there is a sickening crime committed, the community bands together in disgust to demonstrate that bad behaviour is not tolerated. However here we see a blatant example of Australians forgetting that we have boundless plains to share.

How on earth are the big issues like the disastrous asylum seeker policy (which I’m completely opposed to locking people up for seeking asylum, FYI) ever going to be solved, when in our own neighbourhoods, people are intolerant of others who live 20km away.

As much as I love being an Australian, I hate it equally. I find it shameful at times to see just exactly how some people operate. I fear for the society my daughter is growing up in, where her social influences away from myself, her father and our family, may have these disgusting values and beliefs. I want her to know and understand that a person’s address and skin colour mean nothing, that it’s the person inside that counts. I want her to know and understand that a persons life, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or wage, is valuable and they deserve respect and dignity. Lastly, I want her to know that it’s okay to take a stand against those who think it is ok to discriminate on any grounds.

I want you to know that it’s okay to take a stand.

Racism stops with us. We have to be the example set in society for others to live like.

{Linking up today’s blog with The Lounge. Click the RoboMum link in my first paragraph}

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10 thoughts on “I Love and Hate my Sunburnt Country

    • Thanks 🙂 it’s a topic I’m becoming more and more intolerant of as I get older and see more and more people complaining about how uncomfortable they are about people who are ‘not from here’. I know I was raised in a wonderful environment of tolerance, for that I’m truly grateful.

  1. Garlic! I love you!
    Some people are seriously deluded. You know where I work and where I used to live. I’d love to drop these ‘Australians’ in the middle of one of those places. They wouldn’t know what hit them.

    This-multiculturalism-is-OK-but-not-in-my-backyard mentality is plain racist.

    Tomorrow, will you whip up a bowl of Tzatiki for breakfast and go breathe on those Stepford Wives in the bible belt? Thanks.

  2. Fantastic post Clair. It does feel like you’re pushing shit up hill when you try show the “I’m not racist but”‘s the flaws in their thinking but if we don’t then people think it’s acceptable. So we have to try. God knows I’ve had some doozy discussions on this very subject with my own MOTHER! Talk about frustrating.

    Thanks for linking up with us with this epic rant! Rach xx

  3. I live in the western suburbs and jokingly refer to it as Boganville. It’s very multi-cultural here and I’ve never had any problems and I’ve lived here all my life. I find the children my boysmeet at school and hang around with, who are from different cultures are polite and well-behaved while in some cases, not all, the white, anglo saxon kids are the feral bogans.

    I’ve certainly experienced prejudice from others for being a ‘westie,’ years ago when I worked in the city. I do worry about it for my boys. I also wonder if I’m doing the wrong thing by having a ‘bogan’ themed blog, but it was meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek…

    • Oh yeah I get the prejudice too. I get quite territorial over my westieness because obviously we’re not all unenlightened flanny wearing rednecks. Some of us just enjoy the soft feel of checked flannelette against our skin 😉 you’re not doing the wrong thing! I like your blog.

  4. I love it. I love this post. I too have the same love/hate feeling for Australia. We are so lucky and so reluctant to share our good fortune with others. It’s a disgrace really. Thank you for this articulate post.

  5. Dear beautiful Clair, your words ring true once again. Soul sisters we are xx

    oh and this line right here, it simply had me laughing like a monkey with an identity crisis. I DIED!
    “…this bigot has a ‘Lebanese’ son in law and a Malaysian daughter in law, so it’s ok to say these things because she’s totes multicultural and stuff. I’ll bet she even eats garlic on special occasions.”

    Love you woman xo

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