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Posts Tagged ‘racism in Australia’

Black-on-white silhouette of an apparently female figure in a top hat, with the words in white: 2012 Australian Women Writers Challenge (and the url australianwomenwriters.com at the bottom)
Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb from Goodreads

This is an original take on a classic story – how a child of immigrants moves between two cultures. In place of piety and predictability, however, Unpolished Gem offers a vivid and ironic sense of both worlds. It combines the story of Pung’s life growing up in suburban Footscray with the inherited stories of the women in her family – stories of madness, survival and heartbreak. Original and brave, this is a girl’s own story that introduces an unforgettable voice and captures the experience of Asian immigrants to Australia.

My review

First, a bit of background to my reading of this book. I grew up in a part of Sydney where there were many people of Asian descent. Those who were my age had often either been born in Australia to parents who were recent immigrants, or had come to Australia as children. Many of my friends were of Asian descent, from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I tended to see the similarities between my friends and me – they were, after all, my friends – and I often did not understand why they reacted to certain things so differently, especially in relation to their interactions and relationships with their families.

In the years since high school, I have grown to understand much more. Unpolished Gem allowed me to take another leap in my understanding of some of my friends. At the very least, this means that if Ms Pung is writing for the wider Australian audience, to give them an insight into the life of a certain section of the Australian community, she has nailed it. (I am quite curious to know if she has nailed the audience within the section of the Australian community she is writing about.)

Ms Pung’s writing is impeccable. (more…)

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Black-on-white silhouette of an apparently female figure in a top hat, with the words in white: 2012 Australian Women Writers Challenge (and the url australianwomenwriters.com at the bottom)
We of the Never Never by Jeannie Gunn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Blurb from Goodreads

An Australian classic. Depicts the enduring hardships of life in the Australian outback and the battles against sexist and racial prejudices.

My review

One of the things I tried to do for this challenge was to read a number of books I have been meaning to read for some time. We of the Never Never was one such book. Because it is an Australian classic from the early 20th century, I expected to find parts of it confronting, and in that, I was not disappointed.

A quick precis: the book is a memoir of the author’s first year on the Elsey, a station in the Northern Territory, several days’ journey (by the modes of transport then available) from Katherine. She is there because she has just married the Elsey’s manager, referred to in the book as “the Maluka” (this is later explained to be a name given to him by the Aboriginal people they have contact with and is, at least, so the author tells us, untranslateable). She is the only non-Aboriginal woman on the Elsey. She tells the story of her journey from Darwin to the Elsey early in the Wet season, and goes on to narrate other episodes, including staffing difficulties, the completion of the homestead and trips out on the station.

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This makes me so angry!

I agree with a lot of what tigtog says in the linked post, and also Michael Brull’s post at Overland.

I did read through all of the reasons for sentence [NB: link is a pdf], and I have some further comments arising out of that.

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DUFC logo

Welcome to the 18th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival! (And apologies for the delay.)

This Carnival has an optional caring theme, thanks to Australian Carers’ Week (which was October 18 to October 24). The theme for this year was “Anyone, Anytime, Across Australia”, which I modified to “Anyone, Anytime” for the purposes of the DUFC.

There wasn’t much sent in on theme, so I’ve expanded the DUFC rules just a little.

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The Land and Environment Court has dismissed the appeal by the Quranic Society against a decision by Camden Municipal Council not to allow a Muslim school in the area.

I haven’t read the decision yet – if I get the chance to do so next week, I may post about it – but the ABC article linked above gives the court’s reason for dismissing the appeal as being that the school “was not suitable for the rural nature of the land.”

I’ve written about this school before, and again, I’m skeptical about the Court’s reasoning – but I’ll wait until I get the chance to read the judgment before I say too much about that.

What I want to draw attention to, though, is comments like this (from the ABC article):
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The theme for this year’s Reconciliation Week is “See the person, not the stereotype”.

A couple of months ago, I noticed some ads around the city. Each ad had two faces, and a question (eg “Who would you want to work with?”), and then the words “We’re hoping you couldn’t answer that” and url reconcilation.org.au.

You can see video versions of the ads here (15 seconds each). [Bonus feminist mini-rant: anyone notice anything about (a) those questions and (b) the male:female ratio?]

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You’ll probably see some of the themes of my posts during this week, Reconciliation Week, being revisited in my posts for NAIDOC Week in a month or so. That’s because, as I mentioned in my previous post, Reconciliation Week sort of snuck up on me, and that means I don’t have a great deal of time to research these posts as much as I might like. Instead, they basically consist of thoughts which have been bouncing around in my head a bit.

One of these relates to the privilege of education. I’ve touched on this idea a bit before, but I think it’s important enough to come back to (again and again and again, if necessary).

Perhaps it’s the bias of my upbringing, but I think education is important. I think access to education is important.

In Australia, we discriminate tremendously against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with respect to education and access to education.

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