Tick Box Identity

When will we move beyond the notion of fixed identity
​and catch-all phrases like
“Culturally and Linguistically Diverse”?
See beyond the categories
​and into the heart and soul of a person.

​So why dear State Government
​does where I was born matter
​for a job application?
​Shouldn’t my qualifications and experience speak
​to my suitability for a job?

​Why does the date I arrived in this country matter,
​if I’ve jumped through the hoops
​to become a citizen?
​Or are there gradients of acceptability
​to my citizenship.

​Like those old white Australians who will
​oh so graciously concede
​that 30 years in this country
​makes me an Aussie.
​Like I need them to define who I am;
​and being Australian is some marvellous thing,
​some golden inner circle to aspire to.
​Which, if you ignore that this country is built on
​theft, genocide and ecological devastation,
​then perhaps it is.

​But back to the tick box and its dilemma
​“Culturally and Linguistically Diverse”
​Is that me?
​My parents are Christian
​same as this country’s Prime Minister
​Although my parents wouldn’t proudly claim to
have stopped the boats
​or justify the ongoing incarceration and torture (intentional or not)
​of those seeking a life free from persecution.
​How could they,
after all that is why we are here.
​So yes perhaps we are culturally different
​Growing up in a house that watched cricket and footy
can’t cover up that we eat rice and curry with out hands.

But how about linguistically diverse?
​Does three generations of speaking English as a first language
​negate this second criteria?
​Does my high school French and German make me
​linguistically diverse?
​Or is it that I remember a childhood where
English was sprinkled with Tamil and Sinhalese
​older brother was Annah
pumpkins were watakkas
​and wardrobes were almarahs

​Hell, why bother with all this angst
​when one look at my name and
​those people assessing my application
will put me in a neat little box anyway.
​There’s no hiding with a name that’s never failed to
​make those ‘true Aussies’ pause and then
​haltingly stumble over its many syllables.

So why dear State Government
​bother with your page of identity ensnaring boxes
​It will never reveal the
gloriously complex being that is me –
​or anyone else in this globalised era
​and a country founded and grown on immigration.

One thought on “Tick Box Identity

  1. Wow. That expresses the anger and sadness at the oppression that is so intrinsic to box ticking. Thank you for sharing.

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