I migrated to Australia almost 19 years ago from Iran. I did not know much about Australia then and had no intention to live here. I was recruited by a Sydney-based company to run their new start-up. The day I arrived, I was driven from the airport by the company car to a company owned residence and went to work the day after, managing a group of some 40 bright individuals. I thought, I would be here for two years or so but then I fell in love with Sydney, Australia and its people and the rest is history.
I rarely publicly post but felt compelled to do so on this occasion. I apologise for the long post that follows ahead of time (you have been warned!).
Yesterday, My 5 year-old son had a rather unexpected question after he came back from pre-school. He wanted to know if people in Iran had enough food to survive. It is a fair question but I could not see why he would be concerned with that, all of a sudden. That was until, I noticed that his class had read and discussed "I am Australian Too" by Mem Fox.
The book is supposed to be about multiculturalism, diversity and inclusiveness. I can only hope that is genuinely what the much celebrated author had intended. However, the subliminal messages it gives is anything but. I had read the much hyped book and decided it was not something I wanted to read to my children. Judging by my son's impression, my concern was not unjustified.
You see, the book is stereotypical. Some of these stereotypes are new and some are older. The Irish and Italian migrants left due to famine and hardship, but that was a long time ago. The Lebanese, Afghan and the Somalian, fled war and strife, some on a boat, but they are doing fine now. The British migrant, however, had no valid reason to leave her country behind and only stayed because she fell in love with Perth!
Aboriginals,the traditional owners of the land, are a glaring omission. Perhaps the mother from Humpty Doo is one, because that's where aboriginals live, but we cannot be sure.
How Australian is that? That particular question is, by the way, reserved for the individual (with an unidentified heritage) whose father was born in Sydney and mother in Ballarat. More recent migrants do not qualify.
The book's title is "I am Australian Too" but that is never reinforced by any of the migrants, except of course the Melbourne-born said individual with a Sydney-sider father and Ballaratian mother.
The book could have been about the Iraqi-born surgeon at the Royal North Shore, the Iranian-born professor at the Australian National University, the Lebanese-born Business Owner in Perth or the Syrian-born Lawyer in Brisbane, but it is not. It could have been an echo of their voice, that they are Australian too. But it is not.
I have no right, or proof to assign blame or mal-intent to the author but I can express my view that the book is ignorant and not suitable for the intended age group. After all, it surreptitiously gives negative subliminal messages about a certain group of migrants. If the book set out to instill an inclusive attitude in children, it has miserably failed.
I'M AUSTRALIAN TOO HB^I'M AUSTRALIAN TOO HB^I'M AUSTRALIAN TOO HB Hardcover – Picture Book, 1 March 2017
- Publisher : Omnibus Books (1 March 2017)
- Hardcover : 32 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1760276219
- ISBN-13 : 978-1760276218
- Dimensions : 24.7 x 0.8 x 25.7 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 204,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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