Race Relations Here and There


This Monday, the United States observes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore a subject I think about from time to time: race relations in contemporary Australia.

I should preface this by also acknowledging that I speak from a place of privilege. I’m Hispanic, an immigrant, and a woman – identities that experience systematic social inequality. But I’m also white-ish, American, able-bodied, cisgendered, and educated – identities that enjoy certain advantages and also contribute to systematic social inequality.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister who became a civil rights activist early in his career. Advocating the use of non-violent civil disobedience, he became a leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He was assassinated in 1968, but he managed to secure progress on civil rights in the U.S. Just days later, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination in housing and housing-related transactions on the basis of race, religion, or national origin (later expanded to include sex, familial status, and disability). Dr. King is remembered as a great orator, civil rights leader, and remains an inspiration in social justice. The federal holiday is also a day of citizen action volunteer service in honor of Dr. King.

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Melbourne Shopping Guide

I’ve written before about some great shopping spots in Melbourne, but there’s a difference between shopping like a tourist and shopping like someone who has just moved to a new city.

Once you’ve got your souvenirs and gifts out of the way, you might be wondering where to buy shampoo, a new mobile phone, new camping gear, or what kind of store Bunnings is. It takes time to learn, but here’s what I’ve worked out so far.


Many Aussies shop at food markets. Just about every major suburb has one – Box Hill, Camberwell, Footscray, Prahran, Preston, South Melbourne, and of course the Queen Victoria Market. These are not like large American supermarkets where products are neatly organized into aisles. Instead, you get one independently-owned stall after another of fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, butchers and fishmongers, as well as spices and nuts. You may also find household goods, clothing, accessories, and some services.

Some points to remember about markets:

  • They are not typically open every day and business hours may vary. For example, Preston Market is open until 3pm Wednesdays and Saturdays, until 6pm on Thursdays, and until 8pm on Fridays.
  • You’re dealing with different traders. You’ll pay Joe the butcher for his meats, Dmitri for his spices, and Samita for her vegetables.
  • Expect to pay for most of your purchases in cash.
  • Unlike at a supermarket, you may not have shopping carts (here called trolleys) available to you. It’s a good idea to bring your own. They are widely available for purchase.
  • Prices fluctuate. For example, Preston Market is open Wednesday through Saturday. Wednesday is often the most expensive day to shop. You can find amazing bargains on a Saturday afternoon, but the place gets increasingly chaotic as closing time approaches.

If you prefer supermarket shopping, you have a few options.

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How To Beat Jet Lag

Earlier this week, News.com ran an article on jet lag.

Ginger tea is thought to be a good way to counteract jetlag. Here’s a quick recipe:
• Boil water.
• Grate two teaspoons of fresh ginger (much better than powdered ginger) into a cup.
• Add boiling water.
• Allow to steep for five minutes.

Ideally you should drink it at the start of your trip, an hour before you take off, but often that’s not possible. Instead, you might take a small piece of fresh ginger to chew on the plane – but beware, it’s hot and spicy!

I didn’t know that about ginger tea. You can read the whole piece over at News.com. The tips come from the book The Lonely Planet Book of Everything by Nigel Holmes.

There’s only one strategy that has significantly worked well for me when trying to combat jet lag. As soon as I board the plane, I set my watch to my destination’s time and try to get on that schedule. Sometimes that means I don’t do what the airline staff want me to do. Many long overseas flights are overnight. They turn off the lights in the plane and want you to go to sleep, as you might normally, but that’s not always a good idea. The sooner I begin resetting my internal clock, the better I feel when I arrive.

When I arrive, I keep to the local schedule. Often I’m tired because it’s likely that I’ve just missed hours of sleep, but napping would only prolong the jet lag. If it’s daytime, I might not have my regular amount of energy so I’ll take it easy. I may take a bus tour, visit a market, or a park – staying active and being in the sun both help. That night, I’ll likely go to bed an hour or two earlier than normal, but I feel fine when I wake the next day. And no jet lag.

It’s worth noting that jet lag is personal. The speed at which the body adjusts to the new schedule depends on the individual. While I experience little disruption, others may require several days to adjust. We tend to think of jet lag as disrupting our sleep as we experience daylight and darkness contrary to the rhythms our bodies are accustomed to, but jet lag can also affect eating, body temperature, and hormone regulation, which can all lead to fatigue, irritability, headaches, and indigestion.

Do you suffer from jet lag? How do you experience it? Any tips to beat it?