Photo Credit: Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images
What It Means To Be Black In Sydney, Australia
Australian aboriginals are the indigenous people who are said to be the first to inhabit the land. Sydney and Australia in general has a long-standing history with unfair treatment of its native Black and brown residents.
However, what does life look like for Black Americans that now call Sydney home?
I spoke with three men, all Black American, who have lived in Sydney for varying amounts of time. They gave me their perspectives on being Black in Sydney and what it means to them.
Meet The Guys
Malik, a native of Durham, North Carolina — has lived in Sydney for 12 years. He originally moved ‘down under’ to pursue his Masters at Sydney University. He now works as a commercial business manager for a construction materials company.
Fabian has called Sydney home over the last 4 years. He works in information technology during the day and runs a host of businesses, including a nightclub and hair salon on the side.
Scott is originally from Queens, New York. He made the move to Sydney 9 months ago under Google’s rotation program called Mission Control. He works as a Senior Site Reliability Engineer in the Sydney office.
What It’s Like To Be Black American In Sydney
“Being a Black man in this country can vary,” Fabian tells Travel Noire. “On one hand, you can be treated like a C-List celebrity in that everyone wants to know you, get your insight on certain things, and copy your style. However, on the other hand, you can be profiled, talked about, and even hated just like some of the places in America.”
Malik’s view on being Black in Sydney differed slightly. “Black Americans are seen as a novelty and exoticized here. Black culture is adored and many of us benefit from that.”
How Are Black Americans Treated Compared To Aboriginals?
“My aboriginal brothers, many of whom look like me, are treated with great disdain. They are in effect treated like Black folks are treated in America,” Malik explains.
Fabian shares similar sentiments. “Black Americans are held in a slightly higher regard. It’s almost as if they have a natural hierarchy with aboriginals being on the bottom, followed by the Sudanese community, then Islanders, Lebanese, Indians, Black people, Asians, then white on top. So, in regard to treatment, they don’t have time to treat us overly poorly because they have other nationalities to hate more first.”
Facing Discrimination In Australia
While the general consensus is that life is decent in Sydney, Scott shares his experience with facing macroaggressions and microaggressions often.
“I average 1 macroaggression per month in Sydney. These incidents hurt. They come on such an aggressive cycle, and I know they will continue.”
“The black statements are generally derogatory jokes, and worse, the Indigenous statements seem to come from a genuine perspective of disgust,” Scott says. “But I’m hopeful(-ish). In every situation caused by a friend, they listen intently when I explain the issue, and they apologize with remorse.”
The Presence Of Black Culture In Sydney
“I see a max of 1 or 2 black people a day. I miss black people. I miss the Black community. A popular question on the Facebook group, African Americans in Australia, is where to find Caribbean food, as the options are very limited. I miss black food,” Scott says.
Despite some negative experiences, the men all seem to agree that their lives are better abroad.
“Every experience — whether pleasant or painful — makes me stronger, and I have no regrets with moving down under. I am currently working towards permanently transferring to the Sydney office,” Scott says with pride.