Australia slides further into the early 20th Century.

The Age (Melbourne) reported this article earlier today.

Taxi Drivers bar Aboriginal actors

When will this country break away from this kind of ridiculous mindset? I want to provide comment, but I’m too aghast, too infuriated, too frustrated by this land. Racism here is directed both passively and aggressively at any one who appears a little different. Yet people still refuse to accept that it is WE who ARE DOING IT. Oh no, it’s not Australians born and raised here that are driving cabs, it’s those ‘furriners’. Do we not hear ourselves? It was Australians at Cronulla. It’s Australians on public transport abusing Indians, Asians, Arabic people. It’s Australians abusing my highly intelligent Australian friend because surely she couldn’t actually be reading the Financial Review. After all, she’s of Asian descent and, God help her,  a woman.

And this is just the blatant racism. The passive racism is worse. It’s the looks that people give when a non-Indigenous person is seen talking to an Indigenous person. It’s the quiet, heads down, ignore and it will go away, attitude when confronted with blatant racism. The quiet disagreement, even disapproval, but the utter unwillingness to actively counter it.

We refused to play sport against South Africa until they removed apartheid. When will we wake up and realise that we, like South Africa, are racists and that we must change? When will we actively stamp out the ignorance and bigotry that plagues us? We applauded our PM when he apologised to the stolen generations. When will we actually mean it?

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If I hadn’t already left this country once, I’d be inclined to do so again. And never return. And don’t anyone dare say “but there’s racism wherever you go.” Of course, there is. Trust me, I was a ‘guiri’ in Spain for three years. I’ve experienced it. That doesn’t mean it’s justifiable. EVER.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Australia slides further into the early 20th Century.

  1. I know. It hits me most when it comes from my friends, my family members… sometimes they think they’re just being funny, ‘having a joke’, sometimes they are just being straight up hateful. Not all Aussies are like this of course, but… why are any of us like that?

    As someone who will probably have half-Japanese kids one day, it makes me sad to think what might happen to them if we ever come back to Oz.

    • L

      No, of course not all Aussies are like this. But those that aren’t are not vocal enough in their disdain, discontent, dismay when others display those views. We don’t call out racism when we see it. We tolerate when political parties use it in fear campaigns. We accept just being called ‘liberals’ or ‘lefties’ or whatever, like it’s some kind of insult.

      But we don’t get up and walk out. Turn away. Leave the racists standing in an empty room. Or are we scared that no one will follow our lead.

      Paul Keating’s Redfern speech was far more powerful than Rudd’s apology will ever be – and where have we come from there?

  2. How does the author know the nationality of the taxi drivers? The only direct racism my kids and I have ever experienced (my kids are Aboriginal), was at the hands of an Indian shopkeeper in Cairns. We bought drinks from him and then sat out the front and were laughing and talking, enjoying them when he came out and asked us to ‘move on’ as we were ‘causing a disturbance’. When I asked him what he meant he looked very pointedly at the kids and said ‘we try to keep them away from here’. I would guess that the taxi drivers involved were statistically in all probability NOT white Australians but racist just the same.

    • L

      G’day David,

      I make no pretense of knowing the nationality of the taxi drivers. The point I was trying to make was that we, collective ‘we’ – Australians – all too often pass off racism that occurs in this country as from people who are not ‘Australian’. I have a few problems with this.

      Firstly, we are a nation of migrants, built on immigration, and thus almost all of us come from somewhere else at some point in our history. Yet we continue to view Australia (and Australians) as inherently white Anglo-Saxon and or Aboriginal. We’re not. We are from all over the globe. We speak all manner of languages, and follow all manner of creeds. It’s what makes Australia interesting.

      Secondly, migrant attitudes towards Aboriginal people (such as your experience, and, more than likely, the experience detailed in the Age) arguably reflect the views of the more general populace, too. They certainly reflect attitudes that I’ve seen, and experienced, in urban Australia when I’ve been there with my Anangu colleagues, friends and students. These experiences have included being asked to move along, increased security presence, being questioned as to why we’re there or being given sideways glances that insinuate not being welcome.

      Thirdly, that we – collective once again – continue to remain silent or deny it being ‘us’ when such actions do occur – and in this silence we condone it. What did John Oliver from the Daily Show recently say? Something like Australia being a country that sits very comfortably in its racism. That’s shameful.

      I hope your retort to the shopkeeper went something along the lines of: “What? Why are you trying to keep MY kids away from here?”

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Elwyn Penna

    Further acts of racism at the AFL show that there is still an element in society that nurtures racism. This is so all over the world in some form or other. We saw in Adam Goodes’ response the finest way to respond. Martin Luther King also showed the way when he said, “Darkness cannot dispel darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” That kind of love is costly.

  4. You are brilliant, Carter. A beautiful, passionate writer. Can’t believe I didn’t start reading your blog sooner! Keep it up. x

    • L

      Thanks, Miss Grace. You’re not so bad yourself. Hope you’re enjoying the change of lifestyle – London to the Bahamas. You must have almost made it.

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