Racey-race relations

Yesterday, there was a thought/anger provoking cartoon printed in the newspaper here in Christchurch, and in Marlborough. These things quite often provoke me, because as it happens, some of the issues are a little personal.

Here’s a link to the cartoons and an opinion piece…

First off, I should say that I don’t often read or watch the news. My husband often talks about how wonderful it would be if the newspaper was simply one A4 sheet of paper with a list of headlines. I personally would love a series of pictures on a sheet titled “Caption this”. Sure we’d get assumptions all over the place, but that’s what we’re getting anyway right? We’re just getting someone else’s assumptions from someone qualified to share them on a piece of paper or on the newsdesk at 6pm every night.

I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to issues of race. When I was in primary school, we were asked to do an exercise where we had to act like we were a family. One of the boys in my group said it wasn’t right for me to be there because I was brown. I didn’t actually hear what he said to me but one of the other girls was so offended she turned it into a massive deal. When she calmed down enough to tell me what was going on, I was shocked enough to cry about it. And boy did I cry. The teacher intervened in the end.
A few times I would walk home from school and someone would shout from their house,
“Go back to where you come from f***ing n***er!”
I’d cry the rest of the way home.

When I was in high school, my mum went to a parent-teacher interview with my English teacher. He had previously come from a school which had a high percentage of Pacific Island students. During the interview, he said to my mum,
“well Leilani… she’s pretty smart for a brown girl.”
What on earth that is supposed to mean, I’ve no idea.

A few years ago, someone told me that I was the whitest Samoan they had ever met. If they knew my history, perhaps they’d realise why I had to be. I moved to Christchurch from Porirua, Wellington where there were Islanders everywhere. Christchurch is a pretty culturally bland place (less so now than how it was back then). Each day we spent here, it was like we were fighting to fit in. And every now and then someone would remind us that we didn’t. I recall having a conversation with my dad a wee while ago about his reasons for not wanting to be here in Christchurch (he moved back to Porirua when I was 19). As a bus driver, he experienced racist attitudes all the time.
My family fits all the stereotypes too. Previously, there have been experiences of excessive alcohol consumption, gambling addictions, domestic violence, etc. My parents are both smokers. However, I’ve only ever seen them on the benefit perhaps 1 year in all the years I’ve known them. They work pretty damn hard.

So back to the issue at hand…
I do get the sense that there is a depiction of different types of people in the pictures, however what really bugs me is that the most prominent figures in the cartoons are Maori/Pacific Island contingent. And I do find it offensive. It offends my sense of worth as an New Zealand-born Pacific Islander. It’s harsh. It’s a harsh reality sure but if I recall how many people I saw on the pokies when I was at the pub, maybe 2 out of 10 of them were brown. I have never touched a poker machine in my life. I don’t smoke (thought I did for a while). I barely drink, and I’m not on the benefit

I dunno… perhaps it touches a nerve. Perhaps I’m feeling a little like someone’s attacking me. Perhaps it’s personal and perhaps it isn’t.


5 thoughts on “Racey-race relations

  1. I understand what you’re saying however I think the race card is getting overplayed in the media purely to get traction (it’s a easy card to pay just ask Winston Peters)
    My kids go to a mixed race decile 2 school. When there was talk of a merger with a decile 7 school there was uproar from the parents of the decile 7 school who were saying things like “at least we feed our kids” or “our kids have shoes” – the crazy thing is we’re all from the same community. I’m a white low income family… the community I live in is predominantly white with splashes of colour, which add to the fabric. And while the media is pushing it as a race issue (and there are certainly things that need to be addressed) I think it is mainly a poverty issue.

  2. Oh yeah… I totally get that. Provoking emotion for provocation’s sake.
    But media suck arse. Report a piece on kids getting food in schools and it’s a bunch of brown faces on TV.
    A few weeks ago, I was chatting with some of my family in Porirua. They were sick of the fact that every time someone wanted to do a piece on child poverty, the camera’s would always show up there. I don’t think it’s a matter of media pushing the race issue. In this case, the media is the issue.

    It should be mainly a poverty issue definitely, but it always becomes that tad bit more which is unfortunate. Perhaps, I’ll stick to not watching/reading the news lol…
    I’m all for that A4 piece of paper with headlines reading…
    “child poverty sucks in New Zealand”
    End of story.

  3. And you have done exactly the same thing that the cartoonist did to all the parents at that decile 7 school Goose. Shame on you!

  4. I guess as D7Parent and I discussed aside from the blogosphere, picking on those cartoons wasn’t really the point of this discussion. I was merely expanding on experience as highlighted (whether rightly or wrongly) by something that got me remembering previous experiences. I wasn’t writing a post about a cartoon. I was writing a post about what emotions and history the cartoon stirred.
    As I was also sharing with above webfriend, I’ve also seen my fair share of the reverse… family members who have commented on Decile 7 parents and their stinginess and un-generosity, which also offends me because of the mixed nature of my marriage. However, had that been what I wanted to discuss, I would have discussed it.
    There’s only so much room for discussion and in this case, it wasn’t academic. Just emotive. And I believe that’s ok.

  5. First things first, Im a realist… nah jokes just trying to be Iggy Azalea ahahah. Hello my lovely!! Gosh I miss you all… I wished I could rewind back 10 years. I would move back to nz so that I can create memories with the cuzzie. I feel soo disadvantaged cause I didn’t get to spend my teens (rebellious years) with my beloved family. All that aside im glad we are bounded by blood. Getting back to your blog… ohhh before I go on can I say I love your blog… **thumbs up**
    I had no idea this was happening to you growing up… I remember going to your house and playing board games (cause you’s always had them) don’t really remember the convo’s we had (moeips much ahahah) but don’t recall anything about racism. You know growing up in good ol’ Dallington I never felt out of place. In fact I thought I was white… until I was 6-7 years old and my family went to a Samoan church. To this day I am forever reminded that I am a Plastic samoan. If its not church or friends its my husband lol. All I wanted to say is that I love you just the way you are and that we can be plastic together! It also doesn’t help growing up in Christchurch. I don’t know about you but people are always saying, “Why are you so posh?” I just tell them cause im well educated? (pootz) ohhh and that im from Christchurch… I wasn’t gangs enough to be brought up in wellington let alone Auckland. hahahahahha

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