Flat White

Is Australia really a racist country?

6 September 2019

5:00 AM

6 September 2019

5:00 AM

The title of this article is a question; one that relates to Aboriginal people. So when I talk about whether or not Australia is a racist country, it will be in the context of Aboriginal people unless otherwise stated. I ask the question because I frequently hear that for Aboriginal people: “Australia is a racist country.” This is an important issue, because if Aboriginal people believe that Australia is racist against them, it will certainly dampen their enthusiasm for participation in mainstream life and their relationships with other Australians.

When I dare to ask for evidence that Australia is a racist country, apart from receiving the predictable attacks and slanders, my opponents demand that I prove that Australia is not a racist country towards Aboriginal people. I then need to explain that the burden of proof is normally with the claimant and not the sceptic.

I offer the example of trying to prove that the tooth fairy does not exist. It is up to those who believe in tooth fairies to provide evidence, then sceptics like myself will examine the evidence. So it is with the claim that Australia is a racist country; it is up to the claimant to provide the evidence; it is not up to me to prove that Australia is not a racist country. Interestingly, however, there does seem to be plenty of evidence that Australia is not racist with respect to Aboriginal people—just look at the intermarriage rate for example.

For those needing to see racism against Aboriginal people everywhere, the question of “Is Australia a racist country for Aboriginal people?” morphs into “Does racism against Aboriginal people exist?” These two questions are not substitutable for one another. The answer to the first question I believe is “no” and for the second question is “yes.”

Racism against Aboriginal Australians exists for sure, but not to the degree that the race hounds would have you believe. Having some racist people does not make Australia a racist country. We have a few (several in fact) wealthy Aboriginal Australians, but based on this small (unrepresentative) sample, it would be wrong to conclude that Aboriginal people are wealthy.

Yes, there are some dumb Australians who are racist against Aboriginal people, but they are relatively few and far between. Their presence does not make Australia a racist country. And for those who believe that the presence of some racist non-Aboriginal Australians makes Australia a racist country, then the same logic would dictate that Aboriginal Australians are a racist group of people because some of them (only a small minority I suspect) are racist.

The racism which Aboriginal people face is the very least of their problems. They are far more likely to be hated, harmed, and slandered by other Aboriginal people than they are by non-Aboriginal people—a topic that the race hounds are reluctant to discuss.

Maybe the obsession with Australia being deeply racist against Aboriginal people is really just a distraction from some inconvenient facts like the high rates of violence and child abuse in Aboriginal communities?

The obsession with racism means that energy and resources are diverted away from discussing and delivering real solutions to serious problems. The problems resulting from an excessive focus on racism are best summed up by Dave and Bess Price when they suggest that the obsession with racism and political correctness means that useful publicly available analysis of the problems facing Aboriginal people is rare.

Bess, a full-blooded Aboriginal woman (and no, that term ‘full-blooded’ is not racist but the race hounds will make it racist) was a minister of the crown in the Northern Territory government. She and her non-Aboriginal husband of more than thirty years have intimate knowledge of the serious problems facing Aboriginal people. The suffering the Prices refer to is self-harm, violence, child abuse, unhealthy lifestyles, and the problems associated with living in remote areas. They are the ‘elephants in the room’ that few wish to acknowledge for fear of being accused of ‘blaming the victim.’ Discussing racism is far easier. Somewhat paradoxically, when violence and child abuse are discussed (by non-Aboriginal people) there are shouts of “racism!”

I have heard words like “We are watched and followed every time we enter a shop” on social media from many people. I don’t doubt that this happens, but again, not nearly as much as what the race hounds would have you believe. I have lost count, but I would estimate that I have responded to these people on more than twenty occasions with: “Please tell me which shop this is happening in and I will come and see it for myself and speak to the shopkeeper.” So far, not one person has taken me up on my offer.

If you were to get your news about Aboriginal affairs from sites like NITV or other Indigenous-specific pages in the social media, you would think that whenever an Aboriginal person was mistreated, it was mostly from non-Aboriginal people and that it was racially motivated.

What you won’t typically see on NITV or similar outlets are stories about the high rates of violence and child abuse in Aboriginal communities, or if you do, these problems are often attributed to racism, oppression, colonisation, or transgenerational trauma.

If these outlets, when reporting on Aboriginal people being harmed, generally choose to focus on only those occasions when non-Aboriginal people are the perpetrators, but dismiss those occasions when Aboriginal people are the perpetrators, isn’t that racism?

Yes, there is racism in this country against Aboriginal people, but it is not as widespread as activists (or those whose income is dependent on believing it) would have us believe.

Indeed, a preoccupation with racism simply prevents us from tackling the real problems affecting Aboriginal people: housing, health, employment and so on.

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