One morning I was on the tram going to work. I was listening to music but became aware of a disturbance. On taking off my headphones, I heard a woman shouting and swearing at a young African secondary student. The young girl was looking quite distressed and I heard the woman call her a “black c**t”. I asked the woman if she was speaking to me and she said “No I'm speaking to that black c**t”. I asked her to please shut up and stood next to the young girl. The woman got off the tram at the next stop. It was 7.30am. When I got to work I wrote the following: “We refuse to live in a society where individuals or small groups can be persecuted, can stand alone in fear. It is easy to say we are not that kind of society. But for that person, for persecutor and persecuted both, we are that society, for that moment, for that lifetime. We will wear no badge, no uniform, no beret. We will remain anonymous except when it matters. There could be one of us, or a thousand of us on that tram, that bus, train or in that crowd. No-one will know unless needed. We will leave no-one behind. We will abandon no-one, to stand alone in fear, in a crowd. This is a personal commitment. This is a silent pledge. I will stand up and I will stand next to the person in silent solidarity”.
I was on a bus headed home when the bus stopped and let 3 Aboriginal people on. One of them was unable to pay for a ticket so the bus driver told her to get off and wait for the next bus, which was not for another hour and it was 35+ degrees Celsius. So I handed the driver $15, and told him to keep the change. He told me I wasn’t allowed to pay for her and that she had to get off. He said if she didn’t he would call security. I replied “It doesn’t matter who pays – as long as you’re getting the money, security aren't going to care. I suppose if it were a white girl like me you would let her on free you racist dog.” I took the lady to the back of the bus to her friends who hadn't uttered a word the whole time and the bus driver started driving. I've never been more disgusted in my life.
As a five year old, I experienced racism when I wanted to join in a game of basketball with a group of year 6 boys and they said, “Get your hands off our ball you bloody ugly Jap!” I told my teacher at the time who said “ignore the racists, they have a problem, not you. Do what you love doing and others will respect you for it.” At that time I was good at running so I focused on that and won athletics carnivals and was voted school captain. I didn't experience racism ever again at school until years later during the Pauline Hanson era, when she made her maiden speech and said, “We are being swamped by Asians” etc. I remember I caught a ferry from High St to Circular Quay the next day and a man came up to me and spat on me and said, “Pauline's right – we're being swamped by you bloody ugly Asians, go back to where you came from.” I then reported this to the ferry captain who just so happened to be dark skinned and called the police who detained this racist. They gave him a firm warning and he was told if he ever did this again he'd be arrested and fined. From that moment on, I wrote about my stories of racism and got them published - “Growing Up Asian in Australia,” (Black Ink Books) “Chinese Australian Women's Stories” and “Reflecting on Life” (Pearson Education). I founded the Joy House Film Festival to promote film diversity and The Wong Side of Life play and web series for schools (an anti-racism and anti-bullying initiative). Music Video link is http://youtu.be/KmE-DYXZa3s.
I recently moved to Melbourne and love travelling by tram. I was heading to the city on the 109, passing through Richmond. There was an elderly white lady sitting on the seat across the aisle from me. When we stopped and a few Asian people got on the tram, she got up and moved to sit next to me. I'm “White Album” white. She mumbled something about Asian criminals as she sat down, clutching her purse on her lap. I leaned over to her and said “you don't like Asians either, do you? So many in this area, aren't there?” She looked gratefully at me, and then started to say something else. I cut her off with “Thank God you can't tell I'm Malaysian then, otherwise where would you sit now? My parents are colonial bastards, my sister and I are Malaysian-born, but at least we're not racists. They're the ones you can't spot. People like you.” Pretty sure they were crocodile tears she was shedding as she hopped off at next tram stop.
I was on a train travelling west in Sydney once, with a full carriage. A man who was standing started screaming at everyone in the carriage ‘Go home you $%#ards’ and so on. He used every racist term he could muster. I looked around, and most people on the carriage were not from Anglo backgrounds. The people in the carriage were so diverse it was like a representation of the broad scope of multicultural Australia. And everyone myself included was scared. We pretended it wasn't happening, but our silence seemed to give him credence. I'm from a background where my family is now integrated more into the mainstream, but we used to be, and sometimes still are, the subject of racial hatred. I realised it was me that had to do something. The man's anger so was fierce, I was trembling as I gathered my thoughts. As my station was nearing, I stood and waited by the door. In full voice, I yelled to him. The truth is I can't remember exactly what I said. It was to tell him that he too was of migrant background to this country. It was to tell him that I was happy to have the people from all backgrounds in this country. It was to tell him that he had no right to yell and scream at us. He was silenced. His face was steaming. I wondered, had anyone ever stood up to him before? We arrived at my station, the doors opened, and I got off, still looking sternly at him. I caught the eyes of some of the other passengers. They looked at me with what I saw to be relief. I stepped onto the platform, the doors closed, and the train kept going.
It is quite a funny story. A friend of mine and I were riding a train early in the morning when going back home from a mates place. When we got on the train we were overwhelmed by a young girl yelling abusive remarks to elderly Asian citizens. Within a few minutes of sitting down we felt as though we had to say something to the young lady. In doing so, the young lady got out if control and turned on us, but because she knew we were never going to tolerate her stuff, she decide to press the emergency button on the train and made up a story about us so she could get a reaction from us. She told the train driver that she we had threatened her with murder. The train ended up being held up for 40 minutes until the police arrived. We never moved from our seats and in end the end she was the one who ended up being arrested because the police had seen everything that had occurred earlier on CCTV footage.
I think prior to my story it is important to note that I am a young Muslim who wears the headscarf. I was at the public bus station and overhead ladies saying the “Taliban are taking over” and “"Muslims only come to Australia because they get bored of killing people in our country”. When I looked at the two of them, they spat at me “This is a free country! If you don't like what we are saying walk down to the other side of the f*****g bus station.” I told them, here I am minding my own business while they are voicing their stereotypical opinion loudly, and no, I will not walk down to the end of the bus station because of them when my bus is coming any second. They started raging and were waiting for a reply. I am really good with comebacks but decided to use something else on them - I told them to have a nice day with a smile on my face as I entered the bus. Sitting down with my friends I just carried on smiling and showed them the better person we can be despite all of the discrimination we cop all of the time. Sure I could have shot back hurtful words at them but I think it is more important to not be a bully back but assertively advocate against racial discrimination. I mean it is 2014 - come on guys, no hate.
An old lady on the bus started mouthing off under her breath about a young mum wearing a head scarf. I asked the old lady to let me out of my seat as I didn't want to sit next to a bigot.
I was sitting on the train coming home from work one afternoon. The train carriage had people were scattered throughout. We pulled up to the next station and 2 young burly lads got on, and they soon spotted 2 young ladies and started to make small chat as the young men were trying all that they could to impress these young ladies. Then it started - out of the blue - the words started.... “Abo's this … Abo's that…” I sat for what seemed like an eternity and waited for others or anyone to share their disapproval, but sadly the ranting continued. I could hear myself - but it didn't sound like me - the voice came from deep inside me... ‘Enough ... no more and no need’. The voice was deep and frightened myself. He turned stuttered for a bit - and then apologised - to me more than once. I said don't apologise - just there is no need and racism is not a way to impress anyone. Only then other travellers nodded to me as to say good on you. I then turned to those individuals that were nodding to me, and said out aloud “any one of you could have said something”. As a fair skinned Aboriginal person, it is the hardest thing to witness. I got up to leave the train - one of the young men kept apologising several times. I hope that for one moment he will think next time. Did I make a difference? Well I hope that those who chose to sit quietly will consider saying something next time.
A taxi driver collected me from my home very early one morning. He was a real ‘Aussie bloke’ and proceeded to tell me that in his group of drivers there were no Asians or “local arrivals who don't know their way around and just rip you off”. I asked him to clarify what he meant, which he went on to do. After catching my breath, I said to him “You might want to be more careful, for all you know I have a lovely African husband tucked up in bed upstairs”. He immediately assured me that I had misunderstood him and that of course he wasn't being racist, but I knew what he had said, so I made a point of phoning his taxi-group while I was in the cab, and saying that I found Sandy's views offensive and would not be requiring their services again. Needless to say the rest of the journey passed in silence!
Rush hour tram ride, some guy couldnt squeeze on, other commuters wouldn't 'move down' when asked. Called me a black bastard. Kept him off the tram til it left the platform. Haha, are you late Mr Racist? Too late for the 21st century.