Racism in Australia: A Sri Lankan Australian’s Perspective

Yesterday Beyond Blue released a moving TV ad about ‘casual’ racism in Australia:

By this morning the backlash was in full swing: buzzfeed.com/markdistefano/anti-racism-ad-immediately-gets-racist-reaction

We’ve got a long way to go. Denial helps no one, yet it’s one of the most common reactions to racism. A few months ago I posted some personal thoughts & experiences on the YouTube video below. I wanted to share them with you:


There are lots of tolerant Australians out there. Most of us are open-minded, friendly and colour-blind. But there’s more racism in Australia than many Caucasian Aussies realise. And it’s understandable why people aren’t more aware of the problem- if you’re not on the receiving end, how can you be expected to know how often something happens?

We’ve toured Australia 5 times, including plenty of rural touring. As a Brissie-born Aussie with Sri Lankan parents you’d be surprised how often I get “nigger” or “go back home” comments, even at shows. Someone walked on stage and spat in my face once. My brother gets it regularly- teenagers shouting insults from cars as they drive by. Two of my ex-girlfriends’ fathers’ first comments to them was about my colour. There was a string of violence against Indian international students a couple of years back (they pay for their tuition- the attacks cost our universities a lot of money).

We Aussies shouldn’t forget that in 1998 the nationalist One Nation party (who’s entire campaign was pretty much built on racism) won 9% of the federal vote. In other words, 1 in every 11 of us voted for a openly racist, nationalist party. In the state of Queensland where I was born that figure was 22%.

In the US slavery, the struggle for civil rights and racism is constantly discussed in the news, on the net, in politics, in movies and on TV. Post-war Germany is very aware of its past and comes down on racism hard. Their anti-discrimination laws should be an example to the rest of the world. Both of these countries have serious ongoing racial issues but at least there’s discussion. To be fair, they also have larger minority populations and it’s much harder to ignore the voices of several million people.

Australia has dark elements in our past but we gloss over them too quickly. When you brush over your own history, you don’t learn from mistakes and lessons are quickly forgotten. The indigenous people of this country weren’t just treated badly, they were treated appallingly. A whole generation of children were stolen from their parents. That wasn’t the distant past- those kids are adults now. A lot of Aussies don’t know that slavery existed here too (divers in the pearl industry for example). If we were more sensitive to the reality of just how bad what happened was, it would change our country’s mindset for the better.

We don’t have many non-Caucasian celebrities or politicians who can bring these things to the attention of the masses. We haven’t had the kind of riots or protests which force countries to deal with these issues head on. So we need to be proactive.

Let’s recognise the problem actually exists, improve our education and encourage our kids to travel to other countries and experience other cultures. Because at the end of the day, I’ve yet to meet an educated backpacker that was racist.


You can check out the replies to my comment here.

US Tour Dates Announced! Now we need your help…

Here they are guys- our US tour dates!

This moment has been a long time coming. We left Australia in 2010 & have been living on the road in Europe for 4 years. We do around 5 shows & 1500 miles a week and crash on fan’s couches to make ends meet. It’s been an intense & wild ride.

And we’re doing it the same way Stateside this fall! 77 shows, coast to coast. But we need your help with 3 things to make it work:

1. We can’t afford promotion. So the only way we’ll get people to shows is if you spread the word. We need you to share & retweet our music & updates, invite your friends to the Facebook events & scream “THE SUNPILOTS ARE COMING!” from the rooftops.

2. We need places to crash each night! If you’ve got a spare room or couch let us know.

3. We’re lining up some great shows but there are lots of dates to fill. If you know any venue bookers or local bands that can hook up a good gig, let us know.

The best way to make sure you don’t miss anything is join our mailing list: thesunpilots.com/signup. And follow us on TwitterFacebook.

Here are the dates (venues will be announced soon). There will be a few tweaks but it’s 90% locked in:

17 Wed - New York NY
18 Thu - Boston MA
19 Fri - Hartford CT
20 Sat - Kingston NY
23 Tue - Cleveland OH
24 Wed - Columbus OH
26 Fri - Detroit MI
27 Sat - Grand Rapids MI
29 Mon - Ft Wayne IN
30 Tue - Indianapolis IN

01 Wed – Cincinnati OH
02 Thu - Louisville KY
03 Fri - Lexington KY
04 Sat - Nashville TN
06 Mon - Nashville TN
07 Tue - St Louis MO
08 Wed - Kansas City MO
09 Thu - Iowa City IA
10 Fri - Des Moines IA
11 Sat - Milwaukee WI
12 Sun - Minneapolis MN
13 Mon - Minneapolis MN
14 Tue - Chicago IL
15 Wed - Des Moines IA
16 Thu - Denver CO
17 Fri - Colorado Springs CO
18 Sat - Salt Lake City UT
19 Sun - Boise ID
21 Tue - Spokane WA
22 Wed - Seattle WA
23 Thu - Portland OR
24 Fri - Eugene OR
25 Sat - TBD
27 Mon - Sacramento CA
28 Tue - San Francisco CA
30 Thu - Santa Cruz CA
31 Fri - San Jose CA

01 Sat - Ventura CA
02 Sun - Los Angeles CA
04 Tue - Los Angeles CA
06 Thu - Long Beach CA
07 Fri - Orange County CA
08 Sat - Long Beach CA
09 Sun - San Diego CA
11 Tue - Las Vegas NV
12 Wed - Las Vegas NV
13 Thu - Phoenix AZ
14 Fri - Tucson AZ
15 Sat - El Paso TX
17 Mon - Albuquerque NM
20 Thu - Abilene TX
21 Fri - San Antonio TX
22 Sat - Austin TX
24 Mon - Austin TX
25 Tue - Houston TX
26 Wed - Fort Worth TX
27 Thu - Oklahoma City OK
28 Fri - Tulsa OK
29 Sat - Little Rock AR

02 Tue - New Orleans LA
03 Wed - Memphis TN
04 Thu - Birmingham AL
05 Fri - Atlanta GA
06 Sat - Gainesville FL
09 Tue - Miami FL
10 Wed - Tampa FL
11 Thu - Orlando FL
12 Fri - Jacksonville FL
13 Sat - Athens GA
15 Mon - Columbia SC
16 Tue - Asheville NC
17 Wed - Greensboro NC
18 Thu - Raleigh NC
19 Fri - Richmond VA
20 Sat - Washington DC
21 Sun - Philadelphia PA
22 Mon - Brooklyn NY

‘Sex and TV’ – Live in Berlin 24.07.2014

‘Sex and TV’ live at Privatclub last Thursday. Thanks for a killer night Berlin! The support you’ve given us while we’ve been here has been amazing. It’s always hard for us to leave this place… Hopefully we’ll be back soon. In the mean time, the USA awaits!

If missed the show, we’re busking at Mauerpark today at 1pm.

Video: Joerg Trumpfheller