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Racism in Australia
I work with the disabled about once or twice a week. A couple of days ago I was helping a disabled man with his morning routine. Over the course of the past couple of weeks we have become pretty good buds. By this I mean, we speak to each other on a very personal ‘man to man’ basis as opposed to a professional or superficial level of conversation.
It was at this level of familiarity and kinship that I got an insight into the Australian Caucasian that I never would have got otherwise.
First of all, he began by telling me the reaction of all his other carers (they are all white Australian women who are above 40) when they heard that his newest carer was a young African male.
“It’s amazing! As soon as they heard that my carer was a black man, all four of them asked me the same thing. Is it true that they are h**g like donkeys?”
More on this in my post on Jungle Fever and below.
I Didn’t Even Know they Used the Word Nigger in Australia
The second insight took my breath away. He told me that apparently there is a very common Australian expression:
“That man is as dark as a nigger’s a**hole!”
Apparently, white Australians use that expression all the time, not only to describe black people but anything that is pitch dark or pitch black. As I left his home, thoroughly enlightened, I thought to myself:
“I must write a post where I try to break down what I have observed in Australia as far as racism is concerned!”
Whereas, the society is obviously way more complex than what I will put down on this post, I hope this post will help you navigate the murky waters of Australian society a little better.
1) Racism Isn’t that Big a Deal!
The first point is that compared to what you see and hear from American television and even in comparison to American and English society, race is not that big a problem here in Australia.
I spent six months in a country town on my own and never heard racist slogans screamed at me. I have lived in Melbourne and in Sydney and have never been lynched or threatened by a gang of white supremacists. In the city of Melbourne however I have had a few racist taunts screamed at me here and there but on average you will get it less than ten times in a whole year, and even that is really inflating the figures. In my opinion this occurs because:
1) We are Getting so Many Now and they are Getting More and More Used to Us
2) They Don’t Want to Be Classified as Racist Even When They Are
3) We Don’t Affect their World That Much, After All We Are One of the Smallest Minorities in Terms of Numbers
4) We Don’t Threaten Australians Economically – Jobs, fighting for land rights as Aboriginals are-in any major tangible way.
2) Be Careful of the Type of People You Hang Around
Your perception of racism in a place like this will be heavily clouded by the people you hang around. There are some people out here who constantly see themselves as ,” victims of racism,” and after a while their thinking starts to rub off on you.
- Racist Folk Do Exist So Be Mindful But It Pales In Comparison to Years Past
To elaborate a bit on point number one, yes racists do exist in this society. There are events such as the Cronulla riots and articles and people such as these that remind us of that (The Abandon Skip guy isn’t half bad, he is actually a pretty reasonable guy. We don’t agree at all on certain things, but he is reasonable and respectful:I gotta respect that). However this society has definitely calmed down a lot in terms of racial hate. I remember talks I had with a Sri Lankan man who came here as a child in the 70s. He suffered the humiliation of being chased home from school everyday by white kids who’d beat him to a pulp for being different. Until the middle of the 20th Century, Australia BY LAW was a White’s only society. They started to allow Greeks and Italians in the mid 20th century to work as manual laborers. In spite of being European they still had a helluva rough time.So though this may be one the most multicultural places on Earth, it only has less than a century of experience dealing with other cultures. I must say, considering that, this society has done pretty well. I don’t exist in fear of racist discrimination as I would were I in the States.
- The Police Here Are Not Racist….But they Sure Do Meet Some Groups of People A lot
Yet again backing up to point number 2, police here rarely discriminate from what I have observed merely on the basis of skin colour, but there are certain groups of people who they keep meeting time and time again. There are certain groups of youth who just love them some criminal activity: Maoris, Turkish, Somalis, Sudanese, Lebanese etc etc. These groups from what I have seen are definitely targeted by the police. I remember talking to someone who used to hang around Somalis all the time when he went clubbing. One night outside of the club he was actually man-handled to the ground and cuffed by the police like a really bad episode of Cops. I have been clubbing left, right and centre in Melbourne and though I have some bad experiences involving bouncers, nothing as bad as my brother there. Apparently while he was sprawled on the floor, the line of questioning and conversation kept coming back to his Somali pals. All the groups I have mentioned above are really beautiful people, I have hung out with them all, if you hang around them, expect to have a different quality of relationship with the police.
- The Mandingo Fantasy Thing
In an article I wrote in the past, I made fun of the Mandingo fantasy issue – where white women look at African men as nothing but well hung pieces of meat there to fulfill their sexual desire. Whereas I see a lot that’s funny about the whole thing, as the expression goes, behind every great comedy there is a tragedy.
The tragedy is that a lot of the interracial relationships you form here, for a variety of reasons, will be nothing but superficial, on the surface relationships where either you will be thrown away or you will throw other people away as soon as they stop fulfilling your desires.
Sidenote: For some reason, no African men have complained about the Jungle Fever article.All the complaints have come from White women. It’s like the promiscuity article where a lot of the flack came from males:People endlessly surprise and fascinate me. I love it!
- The N Word
Fortunately, here I am speaking to a very small minority. My personal opinion: Please don’t use this word. I know all about the taking-back-our-power-by-redefining-what-was-once-a-negative-term but I don’t think we will make this world a better place by engaging in debates such as:
Is it really a word that should be used in the first place?
Why can black people say it and not white people?
Instead, let’s do away with the word all together. After all, it isn’t even our word. It was a word that was used by white opressors that then transferred over to the African American community, not our community. In addition to that, winning the N word debate won’t matter all that much when you are on your death bed. I don’t think you will be sitting on your death bed telling your son:
Because of me, African people all over the world could call each other nigga but white people couldn’t say the word nigger. But you have to say nigga not nigger, you understand boy.
There are far too many ways we can speak to each other in a respectful manner without having to open up the Pandora’s Box that is the N word.
Instead let’s focus our attention on building an egalitarian society where it won’t matter whether or not someone wants to call the other nigger, because we are equals in every way and it’s nothing but an empty word.
If you are older than 30 and still using this word, aren’t you supposed to be over this by now?
- Aim Higher When You Get Here
I don’t know whether its as a result of racism, lack of ambition or both. However, almost the entire ruling class of Australia consists of White Anglo-Saxons with a so-small-you-almost-miss-it sprinkling of foreigners. I am surprised to no end by the fact that there aren’t more Indians and Asian people (I know Indians are Asian people but…you know what I mean, aah the ignorance of my language) in the ruling class, considering their HUGE numbers. I also think it would be a helluva-lot-of-cool if we had more African people who decide to make Australia home that take control of key institutions of power in Australia. After all, we are probably the best educated, if not definitely one of them, minority on Earth. We have work ethic. If you can read this blog, you have better English than 99% of people who try to speak English. Ascend to higher heights and be a hero for all to see.
Some random meandering thoughts on the State of race in Australia. I will probably end up expounding on this issue a lot more in future. For the time being, pleae feel free to give me a yell, or leave a response and let me know what you think of the article. Till then:
Be blessed and go out and bless people from other races, cultures and ethnicities,