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By Zoey Jones

Have you ever heard of an Asian person being called 'slant eyes' or heard someone call another person 'nigga' in what was supposed to be a friendly term? Have you ever told an ethnic joke? Have you ever thought that these terms might be racist?

Think about it, bet you've heard a few of these over the course of your life and if you're like me, you probably never thought too much about it. Racism is everywhere, sometimes it's subtle and sometimes it's obvious, but the fact is that it lurks in all of us to some degree and it's the cause of fighting and hate crimes. There are kids getting killed because of racist slang, racist attitudes and racist behaviour. And it's not just one race against another - it's many races against each other. I guess I haven't really had to face it and didn't think about it seriously until the sniffing issue started to come between Jack and me. I mean, I've always been aware of the fact that Jack and I are a different race.

I was pretty much raised in the country club and I always thought of it as if it were the local rec centre. It wasn't until I was much older that I was able to take a look around and notice where I really was - that everyone had the same skin colour, dressed similarly, ate similar foods, and it was pretty rare to hear accents or see any other evidence of cultural influence.

I remember one particular event that made me painfully aware of the kind of world I was living in. I was about 11 years old and I was at the front desk to ask for a key to the exercise room. There was an Asian girl around my age who was a guest of one of the club members at the front desk asking for a key to the tennis courts. I watched as George, the front desk guy who was like a family member, act kind of funny. He was asking her who she came with and whether she had a booking. Finally, her friend came out of the locker room and George handed over the key. After the girls left together, I asked George if she was a new member. George looked at me, grinned and said 'Their kind won't be joining Zoey - someday you'll understand'. I understood immediately, and the way I thought about my world changed completely.

Think about what you say and be sensitive to other people. Remember people, like cars, were mass-produced in every possible shape, size and colour, so don't pass judgement until you've taken a test drive. Talk before you judge.

Peace.

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