Race

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

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5 Replies to “Race”

  1. The thing that came to my mind after reading this entry and then digesting was this. My grandmother, born and raised in London, emigrated to Canada. She always muttered about Irish Catholics. Like they were the scourge. Guess who was her close friend, who came to clean her house in the last few years of her life? You guessed it: an Irish Catholic lady named Bridget. LOL, you can demonize from afar, but face-to-face they are as human as anyone on the planet. That’s where I believe children have the real intelligence. They see the person, not the history or culture to hate. It’s the same here in Canada. People swear at the Quebec Francophones. But when on exchanges, the kids see, oh! they’re like us. The same likes/dislikes. That breaks down the barriers. Let’s hope some adults can learn tolerance from their kids.

  2. My wife and I work in the same industry but in different workplaces. I had a sales rep, an English guy called Pat, he was a terrific bloke and we got on very well. I used to buy a lot of product from Pat and he invited me to a few trade events and we used to exchange emails sending on jokes etc. to each other. My wife had never met him but knew him quite well through the stories I told about him and the emails that we often read together. She then changed jobs and was in a position to make purchasing decisions and I gave her details to Pat and he made an appointment and went to see her. That night I asked her how she went and we talked about his products and what a real nice guy he was. After a couple minutes of this my wife said “you never told me he was black”. I stopped and thought Oh, OK and that was when I realised that race made no difference to me.

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