When I was chatting with the lovely people at Radio National’s Life Matters program the other week, I realised that what I really want to say about national belonging and cultural citizenship was this:
Having full cultural citizenship as an Asian Australian should mean that it’s fine to be a ‘bad’ citizen, as well as celebrating those deemed ‘good’.
‘Asian’ shouldn’t be the first point of categorisation, and the heaviness of migrant expectation and stereotyping of migrants shouldn’t curtail a person’s liberty to be, say, a slacker.
Or to ‘Anglicise’ their name (sez she, who has a coffee name of “Jen”).
Or – (hushed tones) – to be monolingual.
We’re not all economic ‘bridge-builders’, heart-surgeons, and superhero Senators, though I’m hardly complaining that we can be those.
Where is the liberty and comfort of feeling at home with mediocrity or failure?
And I’m talking here both about the bar being set by the broader community as well as the one cultural communities set for themselves. That ‘Model Minority myth‘ cuts both ways.