Sunday, November 15, 2009

Having Ethnic Friends

Because it’s fiscally impractical to keep travelling, white Melburnians need other ways to convey how worldly and cultured they are. The easiest way to do this is to have ethnic friends. Now, you might think everyone who has friends has ethnic friends by default because everybody has an ethnicity. But you would be wrong. To Melbourne white people, ethnic pretty much means black and/or Muslim. If, for example, you are Serbian, Polish, Vietnamese, Maltese, Israeli, Greek, Russian, Italian, Chinese, Macedonian or Hungarian*, you aren’t ethnic because you’re not exotic enough^.

If you’re not black and/or Muslim but want to feel exotic again (just like your parents and grandparents did), go to Southern Cross station and ride any VLine train for one hour. At your destination you will likely be told to 'go back to your own country’. Shit. You could probably do it in forty-five minutes.

Please note that perceptions of the exotic can change. People from Turkey and Lebanon have only been exotic since September 11, 2001. Prior to that date, Turks and Lebs were considered ‘wogs’ and were in the same category as Italians, Greeks and Maltese. Al Qaeda changed all that, because now Turks and Lebs are classified as Muslims. As my good friend Ahmed says, “maybe Al Qaeda aimed to do this? Establish the global Caliphate! Expel the Christian mercenary crusaders from the Holy Lands! Wrest Islam away from those sleazy wogs!”

*Anglo-Saxons consider themselves ‘normal’ and are thus without an ethnicity.
^For some reason, Balkan Muslims aren’t exotic enough either.


  1. Wait a minute, did you end that piece with a quote from your ethnic friend? My Lebanese girlfriend would get a kick out of that!

  2. I've also noticed that my white friends like learning Asian languages, particularly Mandarin Chinese and Indonesian (*ahem* MY mother tongues which I haven't learnt because of that awesome assimilation thing we've got going).

    Then they travel to those places to "get a better understanding of that culture". Never mind the fact that WE'RE RIGHT HERE.

    (p.s. love your work. I feel like someone needs to take the piss out of trendy white melburnians)

  3. this is good. white people love having 'ethnic' friends too cause it makes them think they are less racist than people with no 'ethnic' friends, or not racist at all! when in fact they're just collecting friends based on their ethnicities...i've seen this all over white melbourne. nothing cooler than an 'ethnic' hipster p.s.

  4. dear Ben

    i love your insight, this is an excellent take on "stuff white people like", and truely cringeworthy!!

    i must be one of those white people you talk about with ethnic friends! i dont seem to have other white friends... :( ???

    anyway, i think you could think about doing a post on "crafters".

    if you get a chance to contact me, i am working on a project that teaches white people to be less uptight.. and you might like to see it when i release it in printed form..

    i am a graphic designer, but dont hold that against me in a white way!

    from vg(