Racism in Australian workplaces

The guff below is mostly misattribution.  There are people of Chinese origin frequently to be found in almost all Australian workplaces -- from medical specialists to waitresses.  How did they get there?  There were clearly no racial barrier for them.  They did what was needed to get the job and succeeded.

What is sysematically ignored below is that there are many NON-RACIAL barriers to certain jobs.  A poor command of English is the obvious one.  A person with poor English may fail to get a job because of difficulties in communicating with them.  But another person of the same race with good English will get the job.  It is communication difficulties that are being avoided, not the person's race

Similarly, overseas qualifications may  be looked at askance because qualifications from the country concerned may be of unknown quality.  Qualifications from India and Africa may be doubted because comparability with Australian qualifications is doubtful.  A person from such countries may be rejected not because of their race but because of realistic doubts about the standard of their qualifications.  It's not racism. It is realistic caution.

The pharmacy I go to is almost entirely staffed by people of Asian origin -- including a very black South Indian -- so you would have a hard job convincing me that their race held them back.   They do their jobs well

The point of the whine below is to ask for racial discrimination.  They argue that a person with sub-par qualifications should be given a job because of their race.  Surely we all have every right to reject racial discrimination.  It is almost always a call to treat someone else unfairly

Before lawyer Molina Asthana had begun working at an Australian law firm, she was being prepared for the problems she'd encounter there.

Recruiters regularly encouraged Ms Asthana, who is Asian-Australian, to apply for smaller firms, even though she already had years of experience and was highly qualified.

An acquaintance even made a point of telling her about doctors who've migrated to Australia who went on to drive buses.

"That's the first time I faced racism," Ms Asthana says.

The experience instilled a significant level of self-doubt in her.

When Ms Asthana did get a job at a top tier Australian law firm, she was one of only a few people of colour, and she often felt marginalised.

She says other employees had "studied at the same private schools, watched the same TV shows [and] barracked for the same AFL teams, which I didn't really follow". "I was constantly feeling isolated."

Working there took a toll on Ms Asthana's mental health and, after a year and a half in the job, she started suffering anxiety. 

But Ms Asthana's story could have been entirely different.

However, she says we are slowly "gathering the data on what racism looks like in the workplace".

And it's important to understand that "even if we're not racist … our practices in our organisations might be".

"People immediately think anti-racism is about me not being a racist, an individualist attitude [or] prejudice that we can train out of people," Dr Fernando says.

She says it's much broader than that. Being anti-racist means addressing racism in "your practices, your procedures, your policies, the way you do things, how you put your communications out to the world".

"Race is about exploitation. Race is about putting somebody down. Race is about creating those ladders of upper and lower. It's an active thing."

'We lack the language'

Better understanding the power of race and the impact of being racialised requires gaining "racial literacy", Dr Fernando says. "Race is not taught. We don't get taught to understand race the way we got taught maths or we get taught about civics."

Consequently, she says "we don't have the words [to] actually talk about it. So [the conversation] is silenced. "We lack the language, we lack the critical thinking."

Dr Fernando says race education needs to be taught, and workplaces are an excellent place to do it.



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