thekooriwoman

Gomeroi. This is MY truth.

Archive for the category “Racism”

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.

On Reconciliation

On Reconciliation

This is a piece I guest blogged for The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law during Reconciliation Week 2013. ‘The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law seeks to promote and protect human rights through the generation and dissemination of public scholarship in international and domestic human rights law’ – from their website. I have become a regular reader of their blog and have a great deal of respect for all they do and promote.

“Get Over It” On Colonialism.

The response ‘get over it’ I find, is a response given to many peoples various issues, issues most often centered around personal experiences, or empathy with others experiences. I have seen the term used in response to the Holocaust, depression, rape, wars, racism, sexism and lack of services among many other things.

I was told to get over it regarding colonialism and the impact it has created on the Aboriginal population of Australia.

My response to get over it? I am trying, everyday I try. And everyday I open my news browser, read my twitter feed, talk to colleagues and friends, and everyday I see the effects of colonialism being played out in large, small and micro ways. And everyday I am reminded that colonialism is not over.

So the short answer?

No.

I cannot get over it.

The long answer?

What started as a rather innocuous question I asked Dr Dennis Jensen – Why did you boycott parliament the day that then PM Kevin Rudd gave his, what will surely become historical, apology to the Stolen Generation?

I wont go into details, as these stories are not mine to tell, but I will say this. To deny the Stolen Generation did not happen, that these people do not exist, through some ridiculous legal posturing, is a slap in the face to every. Single. Aboriginal. Person who is living with the repercussions of having their family torn apart by a government who apologists will say were only doing what they thought was right at the time.

Dr Jensen then went on to tell me to ‘Get Over it’. To which I replied, Do I just snap my fingers and forget 213 years of oppression?

He then went on to ask me if I am in fact 213 years old, and then told me to Work out ways to maximise my own life experiences, as I can’t for deceased ancestors.

So in reply to your claim colonialism was 213 years ago Dr Jensen, I disagree, I disagree with a heart that is sore from watching and still feeling the effects of colonialism today.

I am watching in despair as a second round of what to me, and many other Aboriginals is the beginnings of another Stolen Generation in the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales through the Intervention and Stronger Futures Acts.

It seems to me Dr jensen, colonialism is as alive today as it was 213 ago.

So as an Aboriginal woman, one of many I might add, what exactly am I supposed to do to get over colonialism and pretend like it never happened?

Do I turn my cheek on my black sisters who are getting their children removed from their care, for the simple reason they live in an area where there are no jobs and a Govt payment doesn’t even begin to cover the costs of clothing, feeding and sending 1 child to school everyday, let alone 7?

Do I ignore the fact that the reasons my Sisters and Brothers cant get jobs is because of the colour of their skin? The fact they have children, because they have obligations to other family members, be it Aunts, Uncles or Grandparents, and even Great Great Grandparents?

The lack of flexibility in your workforce is not my problem, but it is the problem in many cases. But some employers refuse to see this. They will still insist on 9-5. And in this day and age, 9-5 is the death knell for many workers. Black and white.

I asked a very good friend of mine to critique what I have written. He advised me to link to Dennis Jensens comments, what the mainstream media had to say in reply to those very stupid remarks from that very stupid man. I decided, probably stupidly, that my words alone would stand on their own in refuting his ridiculous remarks about colonialism.

The only people that think colonialism is over, are the people that are benefiting from it.

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