Preference on the basis of race and ethnicity


For a long time now, Tress and I have looked at the overwhelming Asian representation in selective schools and wondered if this is something we ought to be thinking about. Kiddo goes to MacRobertson Girls’ High and that school has an overwhelming Asian population. They aren’t all new migrants necessarily although I would not be surprised if migrants make up a large subset.

The issue we were concerned about however, was more with whether Asian parents were shortchanging their kids in other areas other than academic concerns. No doubt academic achievements form the bulwark for university selection panels and job recruiters, especially if one tracks down the skilled professional path to earn a living. I guess that is all this phenomenon shows – that Asian and migrant families are more concerned about arming their kids with the wherewithals to earn a decent living. That is a positive trait surely and instead of being ashamed or apologetic about it, we really should hope that everyone comes along for the ride.

I would be heaps happier if MacRob has heaps more non-Asians because to me that would mean Australia would be even better equipped to compete with the world in areas which matter. The sports and arts may suffer – we may have less olympic medalists or Oscar winners from Australia – but those are from an elite group of performers anyway, who would always be more likely to achieve greatness in their chosen fields, regardless of any traits (or lack of) in the system.

With kiddo we dont have too many concerns about her interaction with non-Asians. Some parents worry about that – also driven by concerns about earning a living – wondering if they will be able to interact with the larger (white dominated) population at work later. Her chosen subjects (all arts and humanities stuff) have meant her friends are mainly white but even if they were Asians, it would not have troubled me too much. It is the system – she is in an Australian government school where the culture and ethnic backgrounds of kids are secondary. Achievements – albeit narrowly defined – are the only things that matter.

Therein I think, lies the important principle. We should like something, or frown on it, not for reasons of race or ethnicity, but the virtue or harm or threat of that something. Preferring or avoiding a practice, trait or value purely on the basis that it is associated with a race or ethnicity, is fundamentally wrong. That is the thin edge of the wedge of segregation and we must avoid it like a plague. Especially in a church.

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