In my country people like to refer to the fact we have a “boat people” problem.
I believe my country has a problem with “boat people” that is to say, we don’t have a problem with the amount of refugees seeking refuge in my country, we have a problem with the fact they want to live here.
Because we are a white dominated country that thrives on racism.
When I get on my bus to work, I see diversity in action. I see many different people representing many different countries or people who have ancestors who originate from different countries. Different people, different religions, different backgrounds – many differences and many similarities.
When I make the mistake of flipping on the “news” or reading a paper, I see white people in power using scare-tactics to speak to the racism of the white population in order to get votes or get money or get attention. I see people who have never been a position where they have needed to flee their country for fear of death and destruction dismissing the plight of their fellow humans. Countries at war. Families torn apart. Families making a terrifying trip across the ocean on a plank of wood disguised as a boat, people who underneath the fear – have a small glimmer of hope about getting anywhere away from the horror behind them. The hope that can find a new place to call home. I see people with privilege, people with homes turning people in need away from having a home because they lack compassion and empathy.
When I listen to the people who would gladly shut the door on a refugee child in need, they attempt to disguise their racism with cries of “They can come here! Just the legal way, through the front door” disregarding the fact, the largest majority of illegal immigrants to my country are white backpackers on visas from other white dominated countries who overstay their visas and don’t go home.
We live in a country were government financial assistance is both expected and scorned. People simultaneously moan about others getting “free handouts on welfare” why expecting it if they’ve lost their job. I live in a country where people who have privilege don’t understand that helping those in need through financial assistance or seeking asylum isn’t a free handout – it’s assisting your fellow humans because they have less than you do.
I live in a country where people deny assistance to others because they themselves don’t need assistance, so why should anyone else? I live in a country where people deny a safe place for refugees to call home based on xenophobia. I live in a country where people deny refugees safe haven based on an inability to have empathy and compassion. I live in a country where my own sibling has a government provided house and financial assistance but she would deny that same assistance to others based on the colour of their skin.
“But you don’t know who they are! They could be murderers!” and so could the person getting on the plane next to you, with a fake passport. I live in a country where difference is not allowed because refugees may bring a different culture or play by “other rules” despite my country having laws.
I live in a country where people happily turn away small children needing a home if they come by a boat because “not our children, not our problem”. I live in a country where compassion is finite and conditional on the colour of ones skin.
Next time you talk about “boat people” think about what you are really saying. Are you attempting to justify your racism or are you simply an uncompassionate person who will slam the door on children and families in need?