thekooriwoman

Gomeroi. This is MY truth.

Archive for the category “Politics”

Treaty Now

I read a spectacular article today; about the growing grassroots Aboriginal movement in this country, but something struck me as odd. I disagree with Michael Mansell. This is a shock to me, I usually find his and my own views align significantly on many different issues. This doesn’t mean I no longer respect and admire him of course, but it does illustrate perfectly that not all of us Aboriginals agree on everything, even those of us who sit on the same side of the fence.

The article I am talking about is titled “We Need Aboriginal Sovereignty Not Constitutional Recognition” by Paul Gregoire, and can be found here http://www.vice.com/en_au/read/we-need-aboriginal-sovereignty-not-constitutional-recognition and I couldn’t agree more. In fact I have even designed a Tshirt that tells anyone who looks at it what I think of constitutional recognition. But I’m not here to push my deadly Tshirt. I’m here to weigh in on the questions bought up by the article above.

Australia is the only British colonised country without a treaty. I had a very long conversation with a journalist recently who asked me what a treaty would look like in practical terms. When I told him we were the only country without any recognisable treaty, he was visibly shocked, he didn’t believe me, I told him to google it sometime.

My response about what a treaty would look like is an elected spokesperson from each nation representing our interests in all matters that would take place upon our lands. A forced engagement of government and our own democratically elected spokesperson, not just lip service payed to a few paid representatives of mob. You will notice I do not use the term leader. I do not believe Aboriginal people have ‘leaders’ in the way mainstream society uses the term. Right here where I live there is an Elders Group that has no leader. They are a group that meets and votes on a variety of different things, and have a good old gossip while they’re at it (I’ve been to a few meetings to ask about this or that. I’ve heard ‘em).

And I feel I’m getting too long in the tooth myself, and am too far removed from where the action takes place regarding Aboriginal Rights. If I had more money I’d certainly attend any event that deals with matters of rights, treaties and recognition.

But I take heart in the young ones who are coming up in the ranks, the likes of Callum Clayton-Dixon and Bo Spearim. Creators of WAR, Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance, and the publishers of Brisbane Blacks. My sorrow in hearing that Brisbane Blacks will no longer be published was strong. I have every copy and have read them all from cover to cover, and I loved passing them onto my sons. Many a dinner argument and discussion was created by this magnificent publication.

Speaking of Callum and Bo, they have already been labelled as ‘agitators’ for their assertion of sovereign rights in leaving and coming back to the country using Aboriginal passports, and also for their never waning energy in organising G20 Summit marches. They are in excellent company though, with both Malcolm X and Dr Martin Luther King also being labelled as agitators. My thinking is, they must be doing something right!

I’m leaving this post short tonight (my apologies) but today was a scorcher, this house has no air conditioning, but it has a heater installed, go figure. It also seems to hold the heat in, like an oven. And I am absolutely exhausted. Night has fallen so I better get my chores done while it’s a little cooler. Tomorrows post will be doubly long to make up for it.

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.

On the feminist politics of Abbotts front bench

Now the kerfuffle raised by feminists regarding Tony Abbot naming his front bench that includes only one woman has died down, let’s talk about the other glaringly obvious omission from Abbotts front bench that has received virtually no media space. Abbotts front bench is all white.

I’m not surprised media haven’t written on this. Because most mainstream media is white. They don’t notice their own default. Can I blame them? Yes. Yes I can.

I’ve been googling results for various search terms regarding Abbotts lack of, for want of a better word ‘colour’ in his front bench and coming up empty. Oh there’s a multitude of articles out there regarding the fact only one woman graces Abbotts front bench. But that’s where it ends.

The lack of scrutiny from mainstream media and feminist spaces points to a much bigger picture, and sadly for non-white Australians, this picture does not include YOU.

Not one article I have read has mentioned the fact that there is not one person of colour or ethnicity that isn’t white. This got me thinking about the elected representatives of the L/NP and if they even had any people of colour within their elected ranks.

I found . Member for Hasluck. And . Member for Moore. A grand total of two. That’s two men, who aren’t white. And apparently not eligible for a front bench position.

The make up of Australia is incredibly diverse. Australia is by no means an ‘all anglo’ country. We are a very multicultural nation made up a multitude of different nationalities that have decided to call Australia home.
Why is this multi culturalism not reflected in the make up of our elected representatives?

The answer lies in the decisions of both of the ‘big two’ parties, and their selection of candidates. Because Labor is by no means more inclusive. Both parties have demonstrated time and time again that they will in instances of choosing individual candidates for parliamentary seats, choose the white person.

This to me is a much bigger issue than how many women happen to be sitting on the front bench. Feminists in Australia seem to delight in pointing out sexism, but never go that extra mile and refer to the very obvious lack of people of colour or other ethnicities when it comes to politics on the whole.

Australian feminism lacks intersectionality, and seems comfortable in doing so. I am yet to see any of the more prominent feminists in Australia address intersectionality in a meaningful and engaging way. There is no shortage of black/brown skinned women waiting for the opportunity to advance and extend the scope of Australian feminism beyond the sphere of ‘women on boards’ and policing Muslim womens clothing choices. (Prisons indeed, eye roll)

Feminism in Australia as it stands is doing nothing but prop up the status quo of whites in power. And is doing nothing to advance the rights of women that are not white.

On NAIDOC week

On NAIDOC week

This piece was run by Crikey after I originally guest posted a piece for Luke Pearson, who runs and maintains the very awesome and entertaining rotational twitter account @IndigenousX. To read the full version of my thoughts on NAIDOC week, here is the link http://aboriginaloz.blogspot.com.au/

Black Captain Jon Luc Picard makes an appearance, he may become a recurring character in my future pieces.

 

Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott

This is a piece I wrote for The Shake on Tony Abbott, and his infantilisation of Aboriginals. It was fun to write, and very generous of The Shake to publish it!

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