thekooriwoman

Gomeroi. This is MY truth.

Archive for the category “anti racism”

A few people who inspired me last year

Adam Goodes – Adam was named Australian of the year last year and kept it real from the jump. We may disagree on constitutional recognition, but that in no way mitigates my respect for a seemingly tireless anti racism campaigner. He recently spoke about maybe going into politics. I say yay! He not only talks a lot about fighting racism, he is also passionate about Aboriginal health and ending domestic violence. Adam has taken the platform given to him by receiving the Australian of the year award and used it to express many progressive and informed views about Aboriginal Australia.

Nakkiah Lui, Steven Oliver and the cast of Black Comedy – Black Comedy was gold. I let out some good belly laughs while watching last year. The fact that the show starred a majority of Aboriginal actors was brilliant. The absolute stand out sketch for me was with Nakkiah Lui and Steven Oliver involving a poker machine. The first sketch comedy to star so many Aboriginals in leading roles since 1973 was an unmitigated success and really highlighted the lack of Aboriginal actors on other Australian television shows (excluding Redfern Now and Gods of Wheat Street of course) and I do hope there will be a season 2 later this year.

Anita Heiss – The indefatigueable Anita published the excellent book ‘Tiddas’ (a very touching and heartwarming tome about a group of four friends) campaigned for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (an awesome program that gets books into Aboriginal childrens hands), visited many schools to give talks and workshops and is now currently working on a new book. Anita is making a very real difference to peoples lives for the better, and I cannot wait to get my hands on her upcoming novel!

Kylie Sambo – Kylie is a Hip Hop artist and also fought alongside many other Traditional Owners against, and was successful in preventing a nuclear waste dump on her homelands at Muckaty Station just outside of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.  Kylie also run successful fundraising campaigns to help fight the case and her song ‘Muckaty’ is heartfelt and poignant.

Amy McQuire – Amy, the former editor of Tracker Magazine, who now writes for New Matilda has been an excellent source of information regarding Aboriginal issues. She writes detailed and eloquent pieces that get to the heart of matters. One of the pieces she wrote before Tracker closed was on the Bowraville tragedies, which was sincere, insightful and very moving. I had the opportunity to be on a panel with Amy last year and she speaks just as passionately as she writes. An incredible journalist who will no doubt keep us up to date this year as well.

There are many other people who made differences last year, these five were stand outs for me. They made me think, laugh, learn and marvel at their dedication to their chosen fields and their vast knowledge on all kinds of different subjects. I look forward to being inspired by them this year, just as they inspired me last year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh it’s so shocking blah blah

Why are people shocked that Aboriginal kids die 5.2 times more than their non Aboriginal counterparts?

Most will live in substandard housing, be the object of racism, have one or both parents self-medicating via alcohol or other drugs, leading to vicious addictions, maybe a parent in jail, at least an uncle, cousin or Aunt.

They look around and see no way out of this life. So why bother.

Again I ask why are people shocked? You’ve seen First Contact, Utopia, why are you shocked? You’ve seen the 30 people in one house, you’ve seen the harsh reality of living in the far outback, so I’ll ask again, why are you shocked?

Some of these places don’t even have running water. Oh how shocking! But what can I do, you ask yourself, sitting and reading this piece.

You march. You rally. You organise a down tools for a half hour every day at 11am until the Prime Ministers Cabinet finally fixes at least housing and water in communities. Until they commit to Community Development and Education Programs that were working until they were cut for no reason. Programs that gave people pride and hope for their communities.

You stand up for decent and proper medical and mental health services in every community. You stand up for all the things you take for granted that People living in these communities will never have.

That’s what you do. Because if you don’t, that number is going to get worse. And you’ll pretend to be shocked, but deep down you know you’re not. Not really.

On Anti Racism & the Campaigns that Don’t do Enough

Justine Sacco was still 30000ft in the air on her way to South Africa, blissfully unaware that her bosses at IAC had already signed her severance cheque and removed her from their website. The insensitiveness of her “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” tweet was jaw dropping, and a lot of people didn’t hesitate in letting her, and her employer know. I applaud IAC in their decision to cut ties with Sacco. It sends a very powerful message to all their employees along the lines of, we will not employ people who publically espouse these types of insensitive viewpoints, excuses will not be entertained.

Also in America, Buncombe County Republican precinct chairman Don Yelton went on The Daily Show and said a lot of heinously racist things about African Americans in an interview about voter ID laws. The North Carolina Republican party distanced itself from Yelton and pretty much forced him to resign. “This mentality will not be supported or propagated within our party.” GOP Chairman Henry Mitchell emphatically iterated in a statement released to the media. In doing so, the North Carolina Grand Old Party has effectively put all its party members on clear notice, by implying if you publicly tarnish our reputation in any way shape or form, we will cut all ties with you. This, to me, seems incredible. Like a lot of Australians I follow American politics peripherally, and I admit I was taken by surprise when I read about this. My assumptions about parts of North Carolina and certain arms of the GOP have been soundly scuttled, and it is definitely one of those times where I am very happy to be found wrong. If only companies and the conservative party here in Australia would prove me wrong instead of reinforcing my assumptions about just how willing they are to turn a blind eye to overtly racist comments that their employees and party members make publicly.

There have been numerous anti racism campaigns here in Australia, the newest of which is the ‘Racism, it stops with me’ a campaign that “Invites all Australians to reflect on what they can do to counter racism wherever it happens”. This campaign is supported by a multitude of companies, including Cricket Australia, AFL, Elders and the NRL. All of these organisations at one point or another have been at the centre of racism rows. It has become the new normal it seems, that whenever a company has to answer for letting racism go unchecked (and in the case of the NRL & AFL, the problems are legion) it just pulls out its cheque book. Elders on the other hand, is a whole different kettle of colonialist fish. Call me jaded or call me a cab, call me whatever you like, but anti racism campaigns will never make one iota of difference until there are measures in place at a legal and policy level that unequivocally signal that racialised abuse/racialised speak will not be entertained under any circumstance.

Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act comes close to the type of top level reform I am driving at. And yet this clause of the Racial Discrimination Act has been flagged for removal. One particular high profile instance this Act was used in was against a particularly nasty conservative columnist who racially vilified a number of Aboriginals, accusing them of using their Aboriginality to gain political points. The fact he was found to be in breach would have sent shockwaves through comfortably racist circles in Australia. It finally put them on notice and demonstrated that there were certain things that damaged other peoples reputations that you cannot say. To assume that this law is no different from, or, better served by the Defamation Act is wrongheaded and essentially puts Aboriginals, and indeed, all other ethnicities that are regular racial targets in Australia right back to pre anti racism campaigns. The quashing of Section 18c under the guise of free speech is freeing racists from the consequences of their speech, the hate it perpetuates and the hurt, humiliation and damage it causes.

So if Australia really wants to get real about stamping out racism it needs to ramp up its laws surrounding anti racism, not water them down. I would prefer to see anti racism campaigns centered around strengthening existing laws and creating new policies to be included in all companies policies and procedural manuals that specifically state a one strike rule and you will be asked to resign. No ifs ands or buts when it comes to racist speak. This is real anti racism. Not contemplating better ways to deal with racists. Because the best way to deal with racists, is to hit them in the hip pocket. Racists have to eat too.

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