Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Politics

Avani Terraces - Greenway
Life is looking up

No amount of rhetoric can match lived experiences

By Elizabeth Lee MLA - 3 April 2017 8

Elizabeth Lee

It’s no secret that I am a proud Asian-Australian. And with that comes different lived experiences, the benefits of a different culture and the challenges of looking different.

I migrated to Australia from South Korea when I was seven, with my parents and younger sister. Back in 1986, there weren’t many Asian kids in school. Even in 1998 when I moved to Canberra from Sydney to study law at ANU, there weren’t that many Asian students around.

The funny anecdotal stories of veiled racism and intolerance were part and parcel of everyday life.

So it was a pretty odd experience this week in the Assembly being preached to by Labor members about my lack of understanding about or action on combating racism and intolerance.

This ‘odd’ feeling eventually gave way to frustration then to exasperation with each and every speech ‘condemning’ us for standing with those who are seeking to protect bigots.

As I said in a speech in the Assembly this week:
None of the members across the chamber have been taunted in the playground, being called “black toast” or “ching chong”; been told to go back to where you come from; to have men say that they have “yellow fever” and think it is a compliment.

None of the members across the chamber have had young kids pull their eyes apart and yell out “Herro!” as you walk down the street; to have people say, “Yeah, but what’s your real name?” or “Yeah, but where do you really come from?”

When you have lived experiences like this and you have learnt to educate, not condemn, then you know the importance of what really matters.

When you have lived experiences like this and you have worked hard to create the opportunities to be where you are today, to have the members opposite shove clichés and buzz words down your throat, to have the members opposite condemn you for not speaking up on law that is completely outside of the Assembly’s jurisdiction, then you know the importance of why you are here.

When you have lived experiences like this, you understand the power in your own voice in standing up against the bullying taunts from people who just do not know. To be condemned, time and time again, by the members opposite that we do not understand; to be accused, time and time again by the members opposite that we are failing to stand up for diversity and inclusion; is, quite frankly, insulting and condescending.

I know exactly what it is like to follow your parents everywhere—from hospital to the post office to your sister’s school—to interpret from the age of seven because even at that age your English is better than your parents’.

I know exactly what it is like to see your parents spend hours, dictionary in hand, trying to interpret every single report card that you bring home. I know exactly what it is like seeing your parents get up at four in the morning to go to work in low paid, menial jobs to make ends meet, to set a good example for us, and to do their best to make a positive contribution to Australian society.

And I know exactly what it is like to witness your parents kept awake all night, wondering whether the sacrifice they made to pack up their bags to move to an unfamiliar country will be worth it for a better future for us.

Labor and the Greens may preach all they want about diversity, inclusivity and multiculturalism. It’s the Canberra Liberals that live it.

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
8 Responses to
No amount of rhetoric can match lived experiences
1
fromthecapital 9:12 am
03 Apr 17
#

Thanks for sharing your experience Elizabeth. Experiencing racial discrimination is certainly horrible.

Can you also share your view on proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act?

2
watto23 12:22 pm
03 Apr 17
#

You haven’t actually justified your last statement. You are basically saying as you are a liberal party MLA and you are also Asian-Australian, that means the Liberal party is not full of racists. However the Liberal party policies don’t reflect any kind of acceptance of a multicultural society at times and are always trying to dictate to minorities what they can and can’t do. Labor and the greens do also tend to do the reverse and assume they know what the minorities want, but its the lesser of two evils.

When your lived experience (which is actually a good thing to bring to the Liberal party), starts to affect Liberal party policy, then we’ll have made some real progress. Until the policies actually reflect real acknowledgement of others in general (not just those of another race) then its a moot point whether there is anyone of a different racial or religious background in the ACT liberal party or any political party.

Everyone is different and we need to stop assuming we are all the same and embrace the difference in society. This also applies to the many differences in society of caucasian heritage also as I can assure you we all have different beliefs, morals and standards also.

3
Garfield 2:27 pm
03 Apr 17
#

watto23 said :

You haven’t actually justified your last statement. You are basically saying as you are a liberal party MLA and you are also Asian-Australian, that means the Liberal party is not full of racists.

Maybe its about all 14 Labor & Greens members of the Assembly being white while the Liberals have a Korean and Tongan in addition to their 9 white members. Maybe its about the Liberal party apparently having more support from immigrant communities than Labor or the Greens, having run more non-white candidates and actually having two elected. Maybe Labor & the Greens should look at why they’re holding themselves out as the defenders of multiculturalism, but apparently not winning as much support from that sector of the Canberra community as those evil racist Liberals.

4
Mysteryman 3:46 pm
03 Apr 17
#

Is anyone really surprised that ACT Labor and The Greens spent their time in the LA virtue signalling and railing against common sense? I’m certainly not.

5
bigred 5:39 pm
03 Apr 17
#

Elizabeth you have been impressing me with your energy and effective advocacy of issues that otherwise would not see the light of day. However, I am not sure this piece is helpful to your cause, which I assume is to be Chief Minstrel. Please, we accept you for what you are and are impressing the community quite widely and you do not need to discuss being a member of a certain ethnic grouping.

I will add that during the election campaign last year, a young Canberran of voting age described you as “being sensible and intelligent, unlike most of the other nutbags in the Assembly”.

also, I would suggest you have a conversation with your colleague Steve Dozspot about his past as well. Probably similar, albeit tougher than yours.

6
Masquara 6:35 pm
03 Apr 17
#

Elizabeth is a very valuable MLA. I don’t care which side of politics she’s on.

7
John Moulis 8:59 am
04 Apr 17
#

Very good piece, but what makes me uneasy about the Liberals is the nutbag right wing of the party which is holding up the legalisation of gay marriage in Australia and giving succour to fringe groups like One Nation. I know that the local Libs have moved back towards the centre since Zed left but there is always that nagging doubt that that the lunar right are waiting in the wings ready to take over again.

8
Garfield 12:32 pm
04 Apr 17
#

John Moulis said :

Very good piece, but what makes me uneasy about the Liberals is the nutbag right wing of the party which is holding up the legalisation of gay marriage in Australia and giving succour to fringe groups like One Nation. I know that the local Libs have moved back towards the centre since Zed left but there is always that nagging doubt that that the lunar right are waiting in the wings ready to take over again.

Do you think that Alistair Coe is significantly closer to the political centre than Zed Seselja? I’ve always thought they were pretty much together on social issues. Remember Zed was out in the media touting Alistair as the best replacement for Jeremy Hanson, who certainly was more centrist.

Do you think that because Zed is now in the federal parliament he is wielding less influence over the ACT Liberals? I think that his efforts in that arena would not have diminished as he would be concerned that if he let his power diminish, he would be vulnerable to a challenge and if he’s not a senator, what the hell else would he do?

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au

Search across the site