Hopefully it is getting less and less active over time though.
However, there are still those who persist in judging people based on their skin.
Most of us are rational people who understand that where you were born does not dictate what kind of person you are. Most of us. How there are still people that don’t get that I’ll never understand. I mean, I get that it happens, I even get how it happens on paper. People just repeat what is taught to them by their parents. It’s easy to hate people you don’t know. It’s much harder to judge people when you know them. I understand racism on paper, but I find it hard to comprehend that level of hate and judgement directed towards strangers.
What makes me the most angry is the lack of desire to change. Let’s assume you think all dark skinned people are stupid and awful and need to go back to where they came from (although how does that work if they were born in St Kilda?). You think this as a general and true statement, but you are unwilling to meet any of them to discover whether this is actually true or not. You just assume it is. When questioned, you just say that everyone knows it’s true and spout some stupid nonsense that has no basis in fact. You don’t need to meet these people to know it’s true.
The sheer arrogance of being unwilling to discuss the issues is what gets to me. I hate being wrong as much as the next guy (maybe even more), but if I’m presented with new information I’m prepared to change my stance to suit the evidence. Hopefully this is how racism will finally dwindle out of existence.
What I really wanted to talk about is another form of racism present in society now; a much more subtle version.
This is disguised as polite, even reasonable (as is evidenced by discussions around asylum seekers). It’s very easy to fall into this kind of racism and not even realise you’re a part of it. Waleed Aly wrote an article about this recently. It’s well worth a read. There are some attitudes we don’t even realise we have, stereotypes we buy into that cause us to have attitudes towards ‘foreigners’ that are really quite ridiculous. The awful thing is that some of this stuff in ingrained in society to such a degree that it’s normal. That kind of racism is extremely difficult to fight against. One study in Walled Aly’s article was about job applications.
Like the racism revealed by an Australian National University study, which found you’re significantly less likely to get a job interview if you have a non-European name. The researchers sent fake CVs in response to job advertisements, changing only the name of the applicant. It turns out that if you’re surname is Chinese, you have to apply for 68 per cent more jobs to get the same number of interviews as a Anglo-Australian. If you’re Middle Eastern, it’s 64 per cent. If you’re indigenous, 35 per cent.
Someone doesn’t even have to open their mouth to be judged. Names can be enough, as can skin. A person might speak very little English, but they might also have been born and raised in Adelaide and have that slight, Aussie country twang. Who actually cares? Someone was telling me recently about a workmate whinging about having to work with someone who didn’t speak perfect English. Firstly, shut up. That doesn’t make them a bad person. Secondly, this non-fluent English speaking person spoke five languages! Five! This person only spoke one and they were complaining about non-perfect English. Please.
You know the attitude. “If they come here they should speak our language.” Yeah, because learning a second language (or depending on where they’re from, English may be a third or fourth language) is so easy. Do Australians travel overseas with a commitment to speaking the local language? Come on.
A recent example of idiocy concerning casual, indigenous racism was in reference to the Logies last night. Redfern Now won most outstanding drama series and the Sydney Uni Libs tweeted:
Oh my goodness. Morons. Jeremy Fernandez responded with this brilliant reply:
I think this comic is relevant here:
Another example of polite racism is Government money. For some reason, handouts to the wealthy are ok because they are “incentives”. Handouts to the underprivileged (sadly there are a lot of people in this category who are either immigrants or indigenous. Another issue that needs to be addressed) are classified as welfare that allow them watch tv all day and not do any work. Now, I’m not saying this is never the case. You can’t just throw money at a problem and expect it to be solved, there must be a myriad of other things in place too, but this is not the point I’m trying to make.
My point is that our attitude seems to be different depending on who we are helping. There is an undercurrent of racism that is unacknowledged. We don’t even realise it’s there, and that’s scary. This, we need to do something about. It requires us to do a lot of self reflection and make sure we’re not part of the problem.
Tony Abbott (and a bunch of the Libs) are feeding this problem with their language of ‘illegal boat arrivals’. Why on earth is he still calling them illegals?! THEY’RE NOT ILLEGAL! Seeking asylum is legal! Language affects attitude, and we need to be very careful in the way that we talk about already traumatised and vulnerable people.
Labor also have an awful lot to answer for in their treatment of asylum seekers. Why we don’t process them onshore is baffling. It’s sooooooo much cheaper and much more humane. Just treat them like humans and deal with the dodgy people accordingly. Don’t treat them all like criminals until proven otherwise. That’s unjust, that’s wrong. We’d never let this happen to an Australian citizen, so why do we treat other citizens this way? It’s weak, it feeds fear of the ‘other’ and it’s just wrong.
I don’t know how to end this post.
Hopefully we can all look at ourselves and make sure we’re not part of the problem of racism.