A couple of months ago, I was waiting to get my hair cut in a salon owned by a Korean couple. All the hairdressers who work there are also Korean. The woman had just recently had a baby, and the baby was lying in a pram in the salon, when she started to cry. The owner paid her some attention, but was busy with a client's hair, so another client, who was waiting for dye on her hair to dry, extended her arms to take the baby and she gently nursed her, and walked around, calmly rocking her. The baby was Korean, but the client was European.

As I saw this, I could hear Neneh Cherry's song "Seven Seconds" playing in my head, as I thought of the lyrics, "And when a child is born, Into this world, It has no concept, Of the tone of skin it's living in." The baby was unaware that her need to be comforted was being attended to by a woman of a different ethnicity to herself. To her, she was a human.

Before people say, "What was the baby doing in the hairdressing salon? Why wasn't her mother at home with her?" this story is not about whether someone should have kids and a career, it is about racism.

I can remember Australian historian, Geoffrey Blainey (I'm not a fan of his, by the way), attempting to justify Australia's old immigration policy by saying that China and Japan had similar policies. Yes, an examination of Chinese history shows that the West was more interested in trading with China than the reverse, and Japan was accepting of Western ideas more so than people, but does that mean that because one country does that we should automatically do the same? Well, no.

People sometimes say to me that I'm not proud to be Australian. Well, not in the way that they are. Why? Well, I know English history is a history of the Romans, followed centuries later by the Normans (hence the French influence on the English language) with some Germanic and some Viking thrown in for good measure, BUT, in the case of Australia, it was the case of people who were ethnically, linguistically and culturally different who engaged in the genocide of the original occupants that caused me to view being Australian negatively. It was the view that at the turn of the twentieth century that a country seeking to be a Southern Hemisphere England expected that the original inhabitants would have been bred out (genocide occurred not only by poisoning waterholes and distributing TB infected blankets, but also by encouraging the Aboriginal people to inter-marry with the whites, and those who were mixed race to intermarry with the whites to breed out their Aboriginality) and the population would be exclusively white. There were some Chinese living in Australia, some of whom were able to marry people from China, a few married Aboriginals or Westerners, and many led a lonely life, dying single.

One thing that has frequently disgusted me is the racist language employed by right-wing commenters about people with Aboriginal ancestry. With the genocidal assimilation policies of the twentieth century, many people did not learn that they had Aboriginal ancestry until later in life. I, myself, did not learn that I am part West Indian until I was 38. And let's not forget that with the juvenile anti-Germanism that occurred in Australia between 1914 and 1918, a large number of German Australians Anglicised their names, so Schmidt became Smith, for example, to avoid the backlash, so some did not learn they had German names, either.

If you grew up in Australia, prior to 1967, unless you lived in country areas, or had well-to-do families, you may not have come into contact with people from ethnically diverse backgrounds. If you were well-to-do, you may have had a Chinese cook or an Aboriginal domestic, but the white families who did, did not do so because they were openminded, but because they believed that they were racially superior and that was to be the work of the underlings. I remember watching a video where an Aboriginal woman talked of being employed as a house girl and she physically comforted the little boy of the house, only to have his mother abuse her and tell her not to touch him!

Looking at my own childhood, I remember my kindergarten photos that consisted of lines of Anglo-Saxon kids, the same with primary school. I didn't know much about black people, and I remembered seeing films set in New Guinea and I could not understand the difference. One teacher ridiculed it, while another, who was more patient, explained that they had more of a hormone in their skin, and that if she or I went to New Guinea, our skin would burn because it was so hot. An easy explanation for kids is that we all have melanin in our skin, and melanin determines the tone of our skin. The only reason why some people are darker than others is because they have more melanin in their skin. This has to be something that all groups take into consideration, not just one.

Remember, that Korean baby was pacified by the Western woman and that baby was born innocent, like every other baby. A homogenous population, contrary to what Bob Menzies said, was NOT an ideal situation, as life exposes you to difference. And if you learn to accept difference from a young age, the hurt that racism causes can be avoided.

Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.