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‘Be good, Little migrants’ by Uyen Loewald

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The poem ‘Be good, Little migrants’ by Uyen Loewald is a darkly ironic perspective on what is expected of migrants in Australia. It explores the ways in which minority groups are exploited and patronised by society. The author uses simple and repetitive structure and accessible language to reinforce the poems meaning.

This poem relates to justice as there is nothing fair about the way Australia behaved towards the Asian migrants when they first migrated to Australia. They were forced to work so much harder just to earn their life in Australia. They were forced to live a completely different lifestyle. They were forced to do the ‘dirty work’ and worst of all, they were forced not to share their culture, they had to keep it to themselves. In the story, the issue of discrimination is addressed to convey ideas of social injustice. Discrimination is a concept that has been fought for centuries. People expect to be treated the same as the next person no matter what ethnic background they belong to. In the poem ‘Be good, little migrants’ unfortunately this doesn’t happen so easily for the Asian culture.

The poem shows the Asian culture of being small and the Australian culture being superior. For example, “We’ve given you opportunity for family reunion, equality, and status, though your colour could be wrong”. Justice is about fairness and equality and the Asian culture are definitely not receiving the justice they deserve. The migrants were spoken to in a condescending manner, expecting them to not understand what they meant. An example of this is the technique of repetition; for example, “Be Good, Little Migrants” is repeated at the beginning of every stanza, insinuating the fact that the Asians could not comprehend Australians rules. This was imposed upon them to teach them to follow Australia’s lifestyle, ways and traditions.

The author shows a biased opinion with-in the story. The way she stated the Asians provoked the process because they chose, to a certain extent, to come to Australia. Whilst she also states that the way the Australian community handled it was unacceptable and unjust. She suggests that the only use Australia has for Asian immigrants is to provide cheap, non-union labour, for example “Use leisure with produce, sew costumes, paint murals” and “Avoid unions, and teach children respect for institutions”. She also hints heavily that Australians have no respect for the older, richer, cultures of most Asian communities e.g “Museums are built for your low arts”.

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