Wednesday, 9 September 2009

PC or not to be...PC

Living in the US, I always felt under restriction as to what I could express verbally. America is supposedly the land of free speech, but we have more rules about verbal etiquette than anywhere else I have lived so far. One area of conversation I particularly felt I had to watch my tongue on was race relations. We Yanks are so bloody touchy on this topic. I wonder how some of my fellow Americans would react to me calling myself a minority. How would they feel about me saying I have a better understanding now of what it's like to not feel like I fit in with the majority. I often wondered why immigrants in the US tended to surround themselves with other immigrants, and why it was so common for us to also segregate ourselves based on colour. Part of the answer is that it's just easier. It takes work to try and fit into a new/different culture. Also, those who are in the majority typically just don't understand what those in the minority go through. I've been here for almost a year and a half now and I do have some Australian acquaintences and friends, but more immigrant connections. The Australians I do know and spend time with tend to have had more 'wordly' experiences than most, either having done a stint overseas or a foreign partner, etc. As I continue to settle in, however, I do hold out hope that I'll make more Aussie mates along the way. On that note, my stage 2 visa paperwork came in the post this week. My police check application has been sent off, 1 of the 2 main forms I need to fill out has been started, and I'll be spending part of this weekend trying to finish up the rest. Wish me luck that it's a smooth and short process!

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

To relegate discourse on racial relations to the category PC is to trivialize the feelings of Yanks who are also people of color. "PC" has become a meaningless term to which we can relegate all our ambivalences regarding race relations. The term emerged as a response to efforts in the U.S. to sensitize its citizens regarding the inappropriateness (not to say hatefulness) of using racial deragatory terms, or telling with impunity racist, sexist,homophobic jokes homophobic jokes. Those who felt their privileges were being curbed by emerging sensitivity to such discourse, coined the term "PC". If someone called you on a racist joke, for example, you could just say "Oh, I'm so tired of this P.C. c--p," because PC had come to mean--to those who were not the brunt of unPC rhetoric/attitudes--undue sensitivity. Untilthose of us born with unearned privilege have walked in the shoes of people who are marginalized, excluded, demonized because they do not belong to the classes that are the keepers of power and privilege we should be careful about bandying about the term PC or claiming to belong to a minority!

~ Jan ~ said...

"Part of the answer is that it's just easier. It takes work to try and fit into a new/different culture."

Great post! That is sooo true! We had three years in Washington State and had wonderful American friends, as well as Aussie expats who worked with my hubby. The best of both worlds...many are now life long friends...but it was hard work for the first 12 months...much easier the following two years though.

Then we then moved to Texas for two years, I was faced once again with getting out there to make new American friends & assimilate to Texas style living. I even made a conscious effort not to seek out Aussie expats at first...but once I found the DFW MeetUp Group...I caved in. It is soooo much easier talking to your 'own kind'...sharing in your expat experiences and homesickness...not having to repeat your sentences...explain where you are from & how long you intend to be there.

Don't get me wrong, I also made many Texan friends who embraced our Aussie family & ours theirs.

I think overall a big thing is being able to get past the 'culture shock' and not seeing it as 'us' & 'them'...treat living in your 'host' country as an adventure...a long vacation even...embrace the experiences & differences ...then you enjoy it more. :)

It's very normal & you're politically correct. :) Aussie expats certainly pulled me through many a time & be came surrogate family. Cheers! :)

A Free Man said...

Political correctness is one of the many things I don't miss from the States. Thank goodness that it is an American phenomenon.

I have more Aussie friends than anything else here. But then I studiously avoid other Americans.

Suzer said...

Anonymous, I'm with you to a certain post, but I am a minority, at the moment, by definition of the word.

Laine Moore said...

congrats on getting your paperwork in, I need to call them up and see how I'm doing with the old department of immigration lol.

Expat said...

Very good points here. I've found the same thing. I also used to wonder (before I moved overseas) why immigrants often tended to stick together in their new countries, and why they had trouble learning English as adults, etc. Now I understand EVERYTHING!!! I also feel I now understand what it is like to be a discriminated-against minority (although in the Middle East it's subtle religious discrimination, as opposed to racial discrimination, but the "feeling" is the same).

Expat 21, of Expat Abroad
expat21.wordpress.com

elsja said...

I totally get it! I think if I had a job here- I would meet more aussie friends but for th emost part, almost all my friends are American!

CrashHolly said...

Hi Suzer. I recently moved from the US to Adelaide with my partner and I can relate to what you mean about feeling like the minority. Anyhow, nice blog and taste in movies, Amelie and A Christmas Story are two of my favourites as well.

Lauren said...

I have one American friend here. And you and I are "virtual friends" but have never actually met up! Aside from that, I have only ever friended and worked with Aussies here. I just find it interesting to see the different experiences reflected here about being an expat.
My stage 2 spouse visa thingy is in Feb. Keep me posted on how it goes!

Suzer said...

Will do! Hoping mine doesn't take too long. It was like that for me in NZ...all my mates were Kiwi. It just hasn't happened here yet.