i went to an asian-australian meetup over the weekend. it’s a group of academics interested in asian-australian cultural studies. i’ve been on the mailing list for a couple of years now and been to a couple of meetups too.

i came away having spent an enjoyable lunch talking to a few people i would not have met otherwise and also thinking how this group of people are a varied bunch with pretty much the only major commmon area being the construction and experience of having an asian physical appearence in Australia.

There’s also a major sub-area of identity as in what effect having an asian cultural background might mean to one’s self, values and life-choices. And really, that’s a thorny ground that each individual has to find a path over by themselves.

Eventually, I think and hope, one becomes more used to oneself to the extent that labels are no longer quite as important for one to hang ideas of self on. With the result that the pre-judgement and classification attempts of others also loses its sting.

Reading the list and various blogs, I was reminded of the time when labels were important to me as were the opinions and reactions of others (including that nebulous concept of “society”). Thinking about myself now and the comfortable space I am in, one in which my skin fits quite nicely and perhaps a little complacently, I wonder if I would have listened if someone (a version of me now perhaps) had told me all those years ago that most of what burned so fiercely in me – my sensitivity to racism, to sexual racism, to cultural assumptions, to unfair media representations and the like – would lose its emotional intensity as i became happier with myself and much less interested about what others (including that nebulous concept of “society”) thought.

I probably wouldnt have. I guess the angry young can never comprehend living without the anger.

Of course, I recognise that I am privileged in that my experience of the world is on the whole free from discrimination and racism. But then, the strange thing is, looking back over my 18 or so years in Australia, it always has.

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