A new perspective on an old topic, Nina Mason
03 November 2020
Old Asian, New Asian by K. Emma Ng is written from the perspective of a New Zealander with Asian heritage. It gives a new perspective on an old topic: the racism and prejudice towards those with Asian features in New Zealand. When I began reading this, I had only a small realisation of the racism and prejudice displayed towards those in New Zealand considered ‘Asian’ – whether they considered themselves Asian or not. It describes in intensity the attitude towards those with different features to the ‘non-Asian’ ones of ‘normal’ New Zealanders. It shows how much, as a species, humans rely on looks and premeditated ideas to get by in their day to day lives.
Once I had read this I was able to understand that although New Zealand claims to be diverse and accepting, racism affects our day to day lives, whether you are able to see it or not. I recognised how much I had been missing, as even my parents subconsciously referred to looks as different cultures. I understand now that I was oblivious to how this affects the people on the receiving end of this, and this book has helped to open my eyes to the old fashioned way I still think about people. I realise now that it is wrong and this book helped explain this to me in a major way, as I hardly even knew about this issue before I read this book.
The way in which K. Emma Ng writes is matter of fact, backed up with research and personal experiences. She is able to write so that the reader can understand in the simplest of forms that New Zealand needs to change its attitude towards people who look ‘different’. It shows that though New Zealand claims to be diverse and accepting, the word ‘diverse’ admits that there are ‘different’ people in our country. She demands that this change because those of different heritage shouldn’t have to put up with being considered different.
It opened my eyes, as I realise now that this happens with all ‘minorities’ within society.
As I am considered to be in two of those minority groups (being a female and of a different sexuality than considered ‘normal’), I understand that people feel they are able to hold themselves above you because they believe they are better than you, and that justifies their acts. I realise that the majority of people not in those groups are afraid of the differences of others and shame them for that, and hold themselves over those in the minorities.
This book teaches that unknown to many people, discrimination, racism, and prejudice are still rampant in New Zealand, and that though by 2038 almost 50 percent of the population will be made up of those of Pacific and Asian descent, unless we change now, discrimination will still be known to those in the future who never asked to be born into it.
Just because you are different to what society considers to be ‘normal’, it does not mean that you are allowed to be abused, discriminated against, or put down because of that.
What will it take for New Zealanders – and the world- to acknowledge that racism is rampant and take action?
- Nina Mason is 15 and a student at Marlborough Girls College.