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Old Asian, New Asian – a new BWB Text

Old Asian, New Asian – a new BWB Text by K. Emma Ng

A 2010 Human Rights Commission report found that Asian people reported higher levels of discrimination than any other minority in New Zealand. This discrimination (and the prejudice from which it stems) occurs at all levels of society, within all spheres of life: in street harassment and racially motivated violence, in matters of employment and professional life, and wielded as a tool in political machinations…. During my lifetime, I have felt the punch of being made to feel that I do not belong.

In Old Asian, New Asian, K. Emma Ng shines light onto the persistence of anti-Asian sentiment in New Zealand.

It explores the nature of racism today in New Zealand, including ‘casual’ or ‘benign’ racism – ‘that which is carried out by “otherwise well-meaning people”’. Ng also connects her experience today with the history of Asian settlers in New Zealand, highlighting how deeply enshrined anti-Asian attitudes are in New Zealand society.

Ng’s anecdotal account is based on her personal experience as a second-generation young Chinese-New Zealand woman. When Asian people have been living here since the gold rushes of the 1860s, she asks, what will it take for them to be fully accepted as New Zealanders?

About the author

K. Emma Ng is a writer and curator from Auckland. She lived in Wellington for seven years, studying at Victoria University before becoming the 2013 Blumhardt Curatorial Intern at the Dowse Art Museum. Between 2014 and 2016, she was the Curator and Manager at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, where she oversaw a programme of contemporary art exhibitions, publications, and events. Emma has written for publications such as Art New Zealand, ArtAsiaPacific and The Pantograph Punch. She is currently based in New York City, where she has just graduated with a master’s degree in design research and criticism from the School of Visual Arts.

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