Trigger warning: racist slurs and graphic accounts of racist violence.
As the daughter of a daisy chain-wearing barefoot contessa who wed a recently migrated Indonesian man estranged from his family, I did not grow up in an ethnically-bound cultural group like my peers. The Greeks, the Masos, the Lebs, the Maoris and Samoans, the Asians. I looked like them, but I was a mongrel kid. I could be with them, but without the Sunday School, Ramadan, shared language and culture. My parents emphasised on allowing my identity to be formed ‘for who I am.’ So I hung out with the “Aussies,” because they could have sleepovers.
Fast forward to December 4, 2005.
“Aussies: This Sunday every f—ing Aussie in the shire, get down to North Cronulla to help support Leb and Wog bashing day. Bring your mates down and let’s show them that this is our beach and their (sic) never welcome back”
I find myself wearing an Australian flag. I try to meld in between my white friends. I plea with my eyes, “I’m one of you.” I hear a shout, “there’s a Leb near northies!” Ashamed at my complicity, I feel something less than happiness in having evaded getting bashed. United around a union jack, not a swastika, I watched a stampede of 5,000 pissed White Australians reclaim the Cronulla shire. Leb and Wog bashing day fulfilled, I have not returned.
On December 4, 2005 I went to Cronulla. The same day that neo-Nazis came to claim its beaches for an Aryan Australia. As an Arab-Indonesian, this fact is often met with surprise. How did you escape without getting bashed? Why did you put yourself in a position where you could be bashed for the colour of your skin? Rest assured my feelings of stupidity for putting myself at risk are only matched by the shame of complicity for having draped an Australian flag around myself.
I just wanted to go to the beach.