The long, painful memory of racism in the community memory of Asian Australians is phenomenologically sustained as a heritage of trauma in the collective embodiment, generation after generation, of Asian communities in this country that largely thrives on forgetting, not-wanting-to-think-about, looking the other way or moving on in bad faith. White Australians, and those who are not really white but feel, think and act as though they are (thanks to varying degrees of assimilation), essentially thrive on an escape from history. And why this escape? This is because history, when narrated as truth, forces one to look at what really was – being as Gewesenheit, indelible in time – and its heritage and its legacy in the present and future. On the other hand, history, when narrated as untruth, encourages one to avert one’s gaze instead. The historicity (Geschichtlichkeit) of history is a contention between truth and untruth for a nation’s hearts and minds. Whither is authenticity?
History as narrative and racial contention