A Recent Intersectionality Experience

Words by Tim


The Oxford Dictionary defines intersectionality as “the interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage”. At the Monash University New Zealand Students’ Association (MUNZSA) beach day event held on the 26th of March, a small group of us had an interesting encounter with a Caucasian lady during our lunch break. Andrew, Ang, and Ophelia (all born and raised in New Zealand but with Chinese ancestry) were sitting down on the soft Australian sand and munching on some fresh fish and chips when a lady around her 30s approached the group and questioned what this event was all about. After explaining to her that this is a New Zealand university club, she shockingly commented that none of them looked like New Zealanders and asked each of them for their names. When Ang introduced himself at the end, the lady outrageously said, “There we go, there’s the Chinese name”. The entire group was left baffled and speechless, all they could do was laugh and waited until she walked off. This recent experience made me reflect and question my own identity as well. As a New Zealand-born Chinese myself, most of my experiences sharing my unique identity have been more on the positive side, so I did not expect that sort of comment to be made to my friends in this day and age. How does looking Chinese make us not New Zealanders? How does having a Chinese name make us any less Kiwi? 


The author Tim

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