I have grown up as a mixed raced female in New Zealand. I was born here and am proud to call myself a New Zealander. Living in a rural town as one of the few mixed-race children was quite the experience.
Casual racism exists within our culture. It is real and tolerated.
It is like the time my younger brother at 13 years old was bullied by boys four years older screaming that he was a “terrorist” and part of “Al Qaeda”. A young boy with no control over his ethnicity made to feel like unwelcome and discriminated against before his first term at high school was complete.
It is like the time when I put my hand up, with one other girl of Indian descent and the other a Pakeha male. That then led to comments from the other boys in my year to my face and all around me swirling this idea that they were going to vote for the male as he was the only “New Zealander” in the contest.
It is like the time when I was 15 years old and asked what boat I came from to New Zealand. I'm asked where I come from and am assumed not to be a part of this country.
Casual racism exists when half my culture is assumed to be the “same” as another.
My identity is left torn when people refuse to pronounce my last name. I will never forget waiting to receive a two-year completion of an extracurricular activity award with my family in the audience and my teacher stumbling and humiliating me as they refused to attempt my last name. My dad was so angry. He has taught me that I must stand up for who I am by being proud to help pronounce my name, rather than run away from trying.
Racism exists when you are labelled as “half-caste”. A term to determine you as half good enough or half of an identity. It occurs when you fill forms that state you may only have one ethnicity or that you must pick which ethnicity “you identify with most”.
I identify with both of my cultures because that is who I am. That is who we are, a diverse group of people from a variety of beautiful backgrounds. We are not statistics that can be labelled into one area. We are not lesser than those originating from Pakeha heritage.
We are all people of stories, and those stories should never be dismissed.