Every time I hear someone say that racism is not a problem in Australia I am surprised because racism is an everyday factor in the lives of Aboriginal people. Regardless of our age, skin colour and social status we are disadvantaged every day due to attitudes and actions based on our Aboriginality. And I am genuinely surprised that people cannot see it. How do they miss it?
You need look no further than social media to see this. Read any post that relates to an Aboriginal person and you will see the plethora of racist comments based on myth, bias and ignorance. A white person dies and the world expresses sympathy and support for the family in an outpouring of grief. An Aboriginal person dies and the family is instantly judged as incompetent, criminal and disrespectful. The ignorant comments come thick and fast.
The recent comments on the death of the lads from Townsville is an example of this. It was instantly assumed they died committing a crime (that later reports revealed to be committed by a white man) and people felt it appropriate to write comments that are nothing short of disgusting, adding to the stress, trauma and loss a family is already facing. Why is the loss of an Aboriginal life not given the same respect as the non-Aboriginal person?
Australia Day is another example of the racism that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face daily. The belief that we do nothing but drink, wait for handouts and do nothing to better our lives feeds the hate that is directed towards us. Reading the comments is exhausting but I couldn’t look away because our country cannot go on the way it is. We need to find a solution and therefore need to understand where the hate comes from. Racism is complicated and I am not suggesting that the solution is simple but reading the comments it was very clear that most of the hate comes from misinformation and ignorance that continues to be spread due to fear. We can address this through education.
The reality is this – Australia was invaded and the country stolen from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who despite the atrocities committed against them have maintained a connection to land. Acknowledging this takes nothing away from non-Aboriginal people. No one is asking them to pay for the crimes of the past, but acknowledging that the past happened and had a lasting impact is important.
Educating all Australians will help address the misconceptions feeding racism. We need to start there.
Closing the Gap Day is next week and it is a great opportunity to start a conversation about Aboriginal disadvantage to inform an understanding about the issues impacting on Aboriginal people and what we can all do to start to address the gap. We had a great response to our Closing the Gap Activity last year so I have attached it again in case you would like to revisit.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.