Race is a funny thing. I think gradually (at least in the bit of society I inhabit) attitudes are changing.
It seems common for people of my parents’ generation to refer to someone’s race. It’s not necessarily anything negative, just a reference. That Jewish man. The Chinese doctor. The Indian lady.
When I talk about people, it doesn’t usually come up, unless it’s specifically relevant. Perhaps I think about it when picturing the person, but normally it doesn’t seem necessary to verbalise it, unless perhaps someone has to be positively identified.
It doesn’t seem like my kids mention such characteristics much — maybe they don’t even think about it at all. At school, there’s just always been a mix of races. It’s just not relevant most of the time. Which is the way it should be.
As noted by a memorable letter in the Age that I linked to back in 2004:
If your reporter visited any state school in Melbourne, she would find children of all faiths (including Catholics) actually engaged in growing up together where learning “how to pronounce each others’ names” is not a bizarre entertainment but a fact of everyday life.
Within our state schools, interacting with children of other faiths and cultures is not a public relations exercise. It’s not even some kind of multicultural ideal – it’s a lived experience.
— Hugh McGinlay, The Age 10/4/2003