Flat White

That’s the dairy aisle dealt with. Now can we stop this patronising pettiness and tackle true Indigenous disadvantage?

7 August 2020

11:11 AM

7 August 2020

11:11 AM

Here’s a quick question for those who follow Aboriginal affairs: what has received more attention in the past month—the story of the five-year-old Aboriginal boy allegedly raped in North Queensland, or changing the name of Coon Cheese because it is supposedly racist? If you are a reader of The Spectator Australia, you already know the answer. 

Now I see that there is talk about ‘Smarter White’ milk possibly having its name changed (milk for smart white people and not smart black people; get it?). And if you don’t get it, that’s fine, it takes someone with a gold medal in mental gymnastics to see that a variety of milk can be racist. 

When I express my frustration at the cancel culture, snowflakes on the left often reply with “What difference does it make?” Some might even think it actually helps Aboriginal people as the ‘offending’ name, cartoon, or date is apparently offensive and oppressive. 

In answer to “What difference does it make?”, I have two responses. The first is that these campaigns are a major distraction to the more important problems facing Aboriginal people. I don’t need to spend too much time talking about this one, as it’s straightforward. When I point this out, the enthusiastic protesters who need a cause (and a distraction) respond with “Well people can walk and chew gum at the same time” meaning that they can partake in cancel culture activities as well as give attention to the more important issues affecting Aboriginal people like poverty, violence, child abuse, and poorer health status. The problem is however, while I see huge numbers attend Black Lives Matter protests (another activity that is a distraction from the real issues), I don’t see these same social justice warriors anywhere near as vocal about the real issues confronting Aboriginal people. Did I miss the protest for the five-year-old? 

My second response to “What difference does it make?”, is that it is disempowering to Aboriginal people. Let me explain: The subtle message to Aboriginal people from these stupid campaigns is: “A brand name has more power over your emotions than you have over them yourself.” Whether it be Smarter White Milk, Coon Cheese, or whatever is the next product that will be declared offensive, Aboriginal people are basically being told that their happiness is out of their hands and under the control of some cheese or milk. They are being told they are victims and that their wellbeing is dependent on an allegedly racist product being renamed—if it is changed, they are fine, but if it is not changed, they are victims 

Challenge this absurdity and you will be told “It’s something that the oppressor wouldn’t understand from their position of white privilege” or “I love it how the white person tells the black person what is and isn’t racism and they shouldn’t complain.” Get it? If you are White, any opinion you have on racism is invalid because you are white. To declare that only black people are allowed to have an opinion of racism sounds a bit racist to me. 

So why do these race warriors insist that Aboriginal people need protecting from brand names (and cartoons, and Australia Day, and the national anthem, and some suburb names …)? They don’t need protecting, but the race warriors need to play the part of the hero. It’s not about the people, it’s about themselves. I spoke about this earlier this year in The Spectator Australia when I wrote:  

Too many of those charged with the responsibility of helping Aboriginal people are like the butcher with his hands on the scales when weighing your meat—the involvement of his heavy hand in weighing is to his advantage. Simply stated, far too many of those working in Aboriginal affairs—the ‘gatekeepers’—benefit from keeping Aboriginal people from advancing.  

Fortunately, it would seem that most people think this offence taking is nonsense, at least judging by the responses I read in the social media. Nonetheless, companies cave into the demands of professional offence seekers—a reminder that we still need to be on guard and call this nonsense out when we see it. 

Dr Anthony Dillon is a part-Aboriginal Australian, social scientist, and commentator on Indigenous affairs. More of his work can be seen at Australians All at the Crossroads.

Illustration: Saputo Dairy Australia.

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