“I just want to get this off my chest so I’m writing this here.
I am what people typically call a 1.5 generation Asian immigrant- I moved to NZ when I was just a little kid and grew up here. I had most of my primary, and all of my secondary and tertiary education in Auckland. I studied, got my job based on my degree, paid back my student loans and continued to work hard. But having graduated from the safety net of university, I finally started to witness racism in its raw and ugly state that is so deeply embedded in this society.
Racism doesn’t have to be blatantly obvious.
It’s always the subtle, little things that stay with me more.
The constant looks that are definitely not from innocent curiosity- always these unfriendly, almost hostile stares that last far too long- at least 5 seconds or more until I stare right back at them- measuring me as if they’re trying to ask “you are clearly not a tourist… so what are you doing here in our community?”
The awkward service when I go into shops and cafes, with people slowing down their speech as if they don’t expect me to understand English, even AFTER I respond in fluent English.
It doesn’t matter to them that NZ has been my home for the last 20 years.
It doesn’t matter to them that I am a tax-paying, hard-working individual.
It doesn’t matter to them that I am a legal NZ citizen.
It doesn’t matter to them the lack of belonging I feel in this country that is supposed to be my home.
It doesn’t matter to them that they remind me again and again that I am a foreigner in this country.
I explain all this to my European Kiwi partner, and he still struggles to understand. I can’t blame him.
He did admit that before meeting me, he would never have noticed all the small gestures and looks that people throw at Asians, how Asians are portrayed in the media, the subtle difference in how Asians are treated in a company… just how racist NZ can be.
I used to love NZ.
But the hatred towards immigrants that has been growing steadily in recent years and the idea that Asians can be mistreated, verbally & physically abused that is spread across this country makes me so mad.
Politicians don’t care about offending Asians. The media twists everything around so the public blames Asians for problems in NZ. Young teenagers are beating up Asian students and robbing them (but apparently this isn’t racially-motivated, according to the Council).
More money gets invested in anti-bullying campaigns than anti-racism. Their favourite slogan “DON’T BE A BYSTANDER” doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to racial discrimination against Asians.
When Asians voice their concerns or complaints we are told to shut up and stop being so precious. They say we should just deal with it because racism will always exist. They sure as hell don’t say that to victims of bullying, do they?
I am technically a New Zealander. My passport says so. When people yell at me to “go back to my own country” there is literally no country to go back to. But there are many people here that will never accept me as a “true Kiwi” because I look Asian and I wasn’t born in NZ.
Now I am always so full of anger and am constantly prepared for possible racist comments that get thrown at me, just so I can throw an appropriate response back. I am always on edge,
My newly-found aggressiveness worries me.
It also makes me incredibly sad.”