It is coming up on twelve months since I wrote my post on Quong Tart and the Chinese in Australia, a post triggered in part by a lion dance done to celebrate Chinese new year. In the post I also referred to the arrival of visitor 10,000.
Now we are coming up on Chinese new year again. Visitor 23,000 arrived this morning - someone from Holland searching via Google on Jeff Dunham: he/she only stayed for a mili-second. Still, welcome. And something has happened that made me laugh, while reminding me of the complexity of Australian society.
Last week I was chatting to a Chinese colleague. Active in a Church group, she had taken out two very different groups into the bush.
Now she had just started the story when she used the phrase ABC. From the context this seemed to be a phrase that I knew from my past, one that I had stopped using in this sensitive age because I wasn't sure that it was acceptable anymore.
Growing up, we used the phrase ABC - Australian Born Chinese - to describe a locally born Chinese as compared to one coming from overseas, an immigrant. Now the phrase was descriptive, but even so. So, very tentatively, I said do you mean Australian Born Chinese. The answer was yes.
Turns out my colleague was leading these two very different groups into the bush. The overseas born group in soft shoes straggled along, the ABC's strode forward.
There was a creek at the end of the walk. The ABC's waded over and set up on the other side. The oveseas born said why, let's stop here!
A little later I was listening to a radio discussion about Sydney's Chinese New Year festival. The two organisers were both ABCs, both used the term. So I guess its okay.
Last night was very wet in Sydney. My colleague and her mum and had spent the night bailing to stop water flooding the house. At lunchtime, she went out and bought a small pump! Her mum was not impressed.
I commented that she could always use the pump (it was very small) to spray people. She looked at me and said that Chinese people did not like water. There was a pause. Then she said maybe the ABCs would like it!