Aren’t you sick of being called a WOG?

                                                           Santorini, Greece. Flickr MarcelGermain

    I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of a certain group of Anglo-Australians saying, “You’re a dirty wog” immediately followed by “ha ha, just kidding.”  Why is that comment worse than a direct insult? Because while the first part is straightforwardly offensive,  it is then reframed as “just a joke.” This means that the person who said it gets away with saying it, and then the person to whom it’s directed have no right to be angry, because, after all, it’s  “just a joke”.

    It’s ugly, underhanded racism, where the person calling out the abuse simply doesn’t have the guts to stand by their racial slur and the potential angry reaction, so they quickly say it’s a joke as a wimpy, gutless way of escaping the consequences. What is most sad about this, is that we as Greek-Australians grow up hearing this over and over again and internalize its inference – that we are beneath them, that we are inferior, and that there is something somehow wrong with us.

    Think about it – how many of us have changed our first names because some of these buffoons find it too culturally challenging to pronounce something as simple as Ilias (I for one had my first grade teacher tell me that, “We don’t like Greek names in this country thank you very much! I’m going to call you Louie from now on.) How many of us have cringed and felt embarrassed by our parents speaking Greek to us in public? God forbid! Like it is our dirty secret and we should hide it? Why?? We are a country of more than 100 nationalities, so why is English the only acceptable language to be heard in public?

    Of course it goes far beyond that, anything that we or our parents brought to this country which was different was immediately judged as inferior and judged as “wog-this” or “wog-that.” Moussaka for lunch was judged as inferior to two pieces of bread with something sprinkled inside (apparently feeding your children rubbish makes you a better parent), teenage boys that talked openly about sex were judged as “disgusting, dirty wogs” (thank you Puritanical, soulless Catholic church), and, irony of ironies, football, despite being invented by Anglo-Saxon England, became “wog-ball”.

    Movies like The Wog Boy make the situation worse. The movie buys into and promotes the narrative that as a group of people we are uneducated village idiots. The movie is almost saying, “Yes we are inferior, but isn’t it funny?” In a way it’s sad because it’s as if the only way some of us were or are able to deal with this humiliation and pain is by turning it into a joke and acting as the caricature we are told we are. At least that way we get some sort of approval, right? While some of us try to deal with it using humor, unfortunately the joke is still on us, and at the end of the movie we are still the ones who have been portrayed as uneducated village idiots with no sophistication.

    Up until my trips to the US and Europe a few years ago, I also had (and probably to some extent still have) internalized this underhanded racist garbage. It was not until I visited Greek-Americans and Greek-Germans that I realized that these people were not at all ashamed of their Greek background. Shame didn’t seem to even occur to them.There was no such thing as the word “wog” or equivalent in either of these countries (the U.S. Democratic party even nominated Greek-American Michael Dukakis to run for President in 1988.

    When I told an Anglo-American friend of mine about the racial slur and the pressure to change our names, he looked at me as if we were some un-evolved white-trash redneck nation stuck in a time-warp of the 1950’s! He told me that far from being judged in that way, having a Greek background in the US means you are associated with ancient Greek history and “some island called Santorini”.

    This put things in perspective for me and made me question my experiences and my cultural identity as a Greek-Australian. Right now I can’t imagine a Greek-Australian in the near future being nominated to lead an Australian political party (3o years after the Americans did it) or, god forbid, even being seen as culturally equal.

    I discussed this with a friend of mine who is a therapist and has had clients from all over the world including Greek-Australians, Greek-Americans, and Greek-Germans. She says that by far, the Greek-Australians seem to be the ones who are most rejecting and ashamed of their Greek heritage. Is this a coincidence?

    IT’S NOT FUNNY

    Why, generally speaking, do we ignore them when they call us that racial slur and then tell us it’s a joke? Why don’t we call them out on it? Would black people these days in the U.S.  put up with whites calling them “N——” and then saying “haha just joking!”?

    They used to in the past. Thankfully however, they found their voice, their dignity, and their self respect and they realized that they were equals and they damn well demanded to be treated that way. This is not to say that we face anything near as bad as the racism that they did, but the fact remains that it is completely inappropriate in American society to use the “N” word in public, even amongst a group of only whites. How long until the racial slur Wog is treated the same way in Australian society?

    My belief is that until we challenge the key Conservative narrative that the Anglo-Australians are the only “real Australians” (espoused especially by people like Andrew Bolt, the Liberal party and its supporters), we will never be seen as equals. Until we as a country, like America (“Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”)  have an inclusive cultural narrative that genuinely acknowledges that Australia is a country of immigrants, and that apart from the Aborigines, we are all immigrants to this land, we will never be seen as people with unique gifts to bring to this country, but as “dirty wogs”.

    It is the responsibility of all of us who are labeled with this racial slur, (regardless of whether our background is Greek, Italian, or Turkish) to not continue sweeping it under the carpet and pretend like it doesn’t hurt. We need to speak up the moment it happens, otherwise we are consenting to it, and enablers of it, and it is no one’s fault except our own. What do you think?

    *This is an opinion piece and the views expressed solely belong to its author. We ‘ll be happy to hear your opinion on the subject. Join the conversation in our comments section. 

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    31 COMMENTS

    1. They ridicule because they fear. Gandhi, the “half naked fakir” (as the much “superior” Pommy Churchill called him), called them out on exactly this, during his stay in South Africa. I grew up in africa..caught the tail end of British colonial mentality….same racism…doesnt phase me at all because I know I am better than them. I have experienced all of what you write in this article first hand. Stand your ground! You are better! A poms insults arise from his insecurity. Instead of trying to elevate himself to your level, he tries to cut you down to his level.

      ….. so here comes this wog (dont forget to add Jews and Indians to the list), starts a business from almost nothing, in his host anglo-colony nation, and not before long, as a general rule of thumb is in the top 20% of income earners. In the mean time, his white trash pommy compatriots are busy drinking it up at the local pub and touting thier superiority. The wog toils for his place in society. the pom feels entitled to his. The wog invests in his children, the anglo pom invests in barley….liquid assets perhaps?

      Fact is, obviously not all, but many anglos (non celtic) are a morally inferior, untrustworthy and yes, lazy people… white trash, descendants of criminals, descendants of colonial has-beens, and as such, have a huge chip on thier shoulder. The more anglo a former colony is, the more they rely on the superioity pryramid as a guage.

      free market capitalism and hard working immigrants (wogs and quasi-wogs) is what elevates thier societies. I am all for integrating in your host society, but for God sake, be true to your roots. Be true to yourselves! When immigrants change thier names, dumb down thier multilingual skills (what an asset!!!) is when complacency sets in, and pretty soon “want some fries with that” will be the extent of your language skills.

      America is as much anglo as it is germanic, hispanic or franco for that matter. As such, that degree of discrimination towards Mediteranean people does not exist here…at least, i have not encountered it. Quite the contrary, America welcomes, and we contribute. The Greek and Jewish diaspora are the top 2 successful immigrant groups in the USA, and in the world for that matter. Thats no coincidence.

      So remember brothers and sisters, both true wogs and quasi-wogs, when a pommy-anglo calls you a name or racial slur, turn the other cheek, smile, and laugh at his “joke” for the joke’s on him. he has just tipped his hand…and his cards aint that great.
      The entrepreneurial spirit is alive within you. En touto nika!

    2. Anglo Saxons didn’t seem to mind when “dirty wogs” were fighting Turkish and other invaders for 800 years during the Byzantine era of Greek history.

    3. this article is about 25 years too late!!!!

      Stop whining and learn greek, read the classics, send your children to greek schools and most of all stay close to the church and partake in the holy mysteries.

      you and most australian hellenes appear to be lazy and are too obsessed with how your going to get a lower taxable income by leasing a black BMW. and then complain about how you have been robbed of your birth right over Anglos’ Turks, Jews etc who are driving white range rovers now!

    4. I send this message from Athens : You should be proud for being Greeks, because when Acropolis was built and we had civilization Anglo-Saxons were living in caves chasing wild animals.

      But it seems to me that, they don’t know to whom they are speaking to and have no idea of history, so they are forgiven for their ignorance

    5. You mean the buildings ON the Akropolis

      Can you name one family member of yours that was responsible for the engineering side & building the Parthenon?

    6. Sorry Vicky, but aren’t we as Greeks being equally racist in Greece with all the racial slurs, etc. against all the non-Greeks immigrants.
      So Please, don’t practice Greek supremacy views, like Gus from ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’

    7. Wake up call! Racism exists everywhere.
      I guess you haven’t come to Greece lately to see how bad its become here.

    8. People do realise that Anglo-Saxons and Greeks are all White Europeans and not different races?

    9. Hmmm… This is really interesting. As a Greek Australian myself, I can’t say I’ve experienced the same. I’ve always known the word ‘Wog’ as a complimentary term. In fact, if anything, I feel proud to be a wog.

      I know racism against Southern-European immigrants was common around the 1970s-80s, but nowadays the racial slurs seem to be directed at the newer immigrants from Asian, African and Middle-Eastern nations.

    10. It’s crazy because although I’m Anglo-Aussie when read this I thought wow it also applies to being gay in many circumstances
      “It’s ugly, underhanded HOMOPHOBIA, where the person calling out the abuse simply doesn’t have the guts to stand by their HOMPHOBIC slur and the potential angry reaction, so they quickly say it’s a joke as a wimpy, gutless way of escaping the consequences” – I changed the theme but it happens the same way, I think it’s the Australian way of attacking. Ethnically different, sexually different, different gender. Say what you want but pretend like it’s a joke – it’s the macho way of being bitchy.

    11. we have to be proud coming from Greece, our culture has evolved over thousands of years and most philosophical traditions began in Ancient Greece. Ok some of us had to immigrate to other countries but we should never forget our origins and we have to keep our traditions, but by going and changing your greek name is like you denying your country, many greek australians did that, so i guess they dont really care, they just want to blend in and not to be called wog or other names

    12. 25 years late??? more like 40 years late…. it does not bother me what Anglo-Saxon Australians think… because the Lebanese, Arabs and Asians are now here. I have noticed now “Greeks and Italians” are one of them…. karma is such a fantastic thing. You call one of them a wog etc… there is no sorry there… just a bullet or a knife through you.

    13. Now let me be clear, I was born of Sourthern European Parents that Migrated in the 50s to Sydney and grew up in Australia. I own a Successfully Grown 100% Australian Company that employs over 300 staff. Live in the Lower North Shore of Sydney. Hate the fact that my Children are taught to be tolerant towards Diverse Ethnic Cultures. Tolerant is Racist! Meaning of the Word Tolerant. To put up with! To be very Frank. Australia is more racist than ever. My children get asked their nationality at least twice a week. The majority of the population where I live are Anglo Australians. The fact that most residents are highly educated and affluent means nothing. They do not like anything that resembles a distortion of their White Anglo Heritage. My Wife and I have decided that living in the lower North Shore is not worth the crap we see and cop. Australia is an apartheid State that only allowed non Anglos in due to he fact that Anglo Australians needed to industry to save their White Pale arses from Depression. The fact that Migrants accomplished much more than the White Anglos could dream of has caused more intolerance.

    14. Sadly, all of the Aussie-Greeks I know (as a Scandinavian) whether it be through work or sport – tend to keep to themselves.

      They prefer not to celebrate being Australian or even identify with being Australian.

      Sure, they are a proud people who try to hold on to their Ancestry, but then so do hundreds of other interesting cultures living in Australia – yet these other cultures manage to do so without the woe-is-me-identity-crisis bs.

      The average Australian-Greek will remain tied with the church/orthodox way of life and will speak Greek at home, even though they are third generation Australian. The only other culture an Aussie Greek will have anything to do with is an Italian, and this is usually through marriage.

      It’s actually quite offensive to most Australians to behave in this manner and there’s no excuse if you’re born in Australia to not assimilate to the Australian way.

      There’s no excuse for being Racist – Anthropologically and historically speaking, Australian-Greeks are the most racist group of Australian-citizens to date.

      As an aside, I sincerely being nice.

    15. hahahah reading this makes me laugh, i am Greek Australian and proud of both cultures and where i live. Being GREEK is special, its having a history, living life, its a word FILOTIMO that can not be explained in english or many other cultures i grew up with a nick name WOGO and i will take it to my grave all i have to say is when some one calls you a wig, smile and say to them education in all aspects in life and history are not something you are taught in class, its part of peoples history and culture that is in the blood.

      Any anglo that knocks other races that believes that pies beers and 100 years of history compares is not worth farting on.

    16. You come here you should embrace the culture and the language or fuck off back to where you came from. Concreting your entire yard is not embracing the culture. Killing street trees is not embracing the culture. Having 15 people in 1 house and renting out 10 properties is heathen bullshit. The sun baked your tiny prune shaped brains into a smelly greedy puree. In Australia most of us pay our taxes. Greek culture um where have the blue eyes and blonde hair gone from the original greeks. Maybe the marauders came down from the hills and killed them all. You call that culture you hot blooded fuckwit. Your not even Greek. The culture that they created you stole after ransacking the place. Good one!!!!

    17. Who’s uneducated? You?! The irony reading this comment. Oh it was amusing. For one Anglo Saxon originates from Germany. Then you use this pretext to account for Germanic descendants from America. Before you start spouting shit onto the internet I suggest you back up your opinions with facts. As a British citizen living in Australia I find your sterotype’s intrepid and insidious. Referring to Anglo pommies? I get you really can’t grasp the full understanding of the word because quite clearly you are the individual lacking when it comes down to brain cell distribution. The British or Pom come under as much fire in australia as do the Greeks. Most of my friends are from Greece. I don’t normally get frustrated with idiotic comments but from a complete simpleton it takes the piss. Read more books and come back with the pots not calling the kettle black.

    18. Growing up in parramatta and called skippy in the 80’s at school, where anglo were the minority in my year having kids chant wog wog wog as they either punched poled or torment a ‘skippy’. You can fuck off with your poor woo it us crap.
      I bet you never used the term skippy either or some other racist term. Your a liar if you said no. I married a girl from the Mediterranean and have her sister mutter australazi under her breath in disgust. She since come around since her niece and nephew is half anglo.
      This isn’t about racism this crap is about people being nasty to other people and about dominance.
      Take you article and cry me a river, I am not allowed to have a cry about my upbringing and get any sympathy cause I am anglo why should you.

    19. People in Australia didn’t get to vote on who should allow to immigrate 60 years ago. Perhaps as a Greek you would think the same about your precious Greece.

    20. Greeks are a admixture Slavic,Turkish and Arab blood mixtures, they are not western Europeans.

    21. Why can’t Greeks be prosperous in Greece? Why do most non western European migrants seek to attach themselves to western nations and only in western European nations? Why do you pluck from the tree of prosperity from western Europeans by country shopping for a “better” way of life? Remember western nations are no longer western without western Europeans living in them. If western Europeans go extinct, the rest will all fall into the sea of sludge, as Greeks or other minorities cannot survive without the foundations of western European societies.

    22. Why would any racially aware western European breed his/her ancestry away with Mediterranean Mexican’s, or any other non western person?

    23. I’m quite sure Greeks would want to maintain their racial homogeneity in their own nation Greece, why shouldn’t western Europeans? This is where nations are created due to the racial makeup of the peoples living there, not societies that look like stinking dog’s breakfast’s. This is nothing more than western culture destruction.

    24. Mate, if you’re sick of being called a wog come to Ingham everyone here is either Italian aboriginal or Irish and no one has the guts to be racist or they’ll probably wind up in concrete shoes.

      Ps in case your wondering I’m Sicilian

    25. You poms bloody well deserve it. You practically invented racism. The fact is England was barbarian I classification until Rome (Italy) changed it but you poms haven’t changed even in 2000 years. And Australians hate you because the “great” United Kingdom threw australia under the bus in ww2

    26. Us Mediterranean folk had to migrate mainly because of wars between the uk and Germany

    27. So true. But I blame the Greek-Australians (not everyone) for sometimes being gutless. Remember, that the more you give in to bullies, the more they pursue you – because bullies feed off perceived weakness. Nowadays white guys (Anglos, Irish & Southern Europeans) avoid eye-contact with the present day ‘wogs’ (Middle-Easterners, Turks, recent Afghans) and African guys out of fear.
      The lesson was: bash a few Anglos to send the message that ‘we are not to be messed with’. Nobody likes fighting an armed, crazed person… nobody.

    28. That’s the spirit, just stay out of jail. being tough and being a criminal are different things.