Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Racism and the new PM

As ever, I find its hard keeping up to date with the blog. Nearly a month has gone by since my last post, the situation I was writing about there is still unresolved, and other things have happened. Perhaps the only way to keep this blog up with any regularity is not to worry about being consistent or writing in a considered, in-depth way but rather to write quick, impressionistic pieces when the opportunity is there. 

I'm currently on holiday in WA. I've stayed in Broome and spent one night in a remote Indigenous community (staying in the house of a white service provider). It has brought home the challenges and complexities of racism and reconciliation in Australia. 

Across the street, something bad was happening, involving Indigenous women - shouting and crying in the night, sounds of violence. Police were called. Someone said it was due to ice (or crack?). 

In the remote community, white service providers said 'surely people want education for their children?' They equated wanting education with caring for children, but what if it's white education? In a sense, we lock children up in schools.

I listened to reminiscences of old people about their childhoods in Broome on a social history podcast, and they reminded me of my childhood. Our society then was racist - clearly more formally racist than today. Yet as children, we made spaces for ourselves. We had more freedom, we were allowed to do more. That's partly growing up in the country, but it made spaces where white children and Indigenous children could come together as friends and playmates. 

The children in my tiny rural primary school used to go to school early, sometimes in spring, so that we could go looking for orchids in the bush. I don't know if our parents even knew - they must have I suppose, since even though we walked to school, we would have had to leave earlier than usual - but it seemed like something we organised for ourselves, like the children in Broome organised their play in the mangroves. It wasn't till later, when I went to live in the irrigation areas, that I saw Indigenous children being ridiculed and abused and effectively driven out of high school.

But those are stories for another time, maybe. This week Scott Morrison talked about "indulgent self loathing" because another Council has decided to change the date of Australia Day. I felt such fury when I read that - just fury. I tweeted angrily that he could "fuck off forever" with his racism, that he was not my Prime Minister. Generally I try not to swear on Twitter but there are times when it seems the only way to show feelings of outrage. So yeah, I'm the lefty outrage brigade. I am outraged by racism and sexism. I'm furious about them. Conservative white men are stuffing up the world, and I am furious at their sense of entitlement, their born to rule judgements. This business of not allowing Councils who change the date of Australia Day to hold citizenship ceremonies is outrageous. It's dictatorship. How come we let this happen? 

Today Morrison is trying to walk back his comments a bit, while still keeping the substantive stuff around refusing to change the date and not letting the Council hold citizenship ceremonies. He has suggested another day for celebrating Indigenous culture (we already have NAIDOC week and having a separate day is an apartheid type suggestion anyway). He has rabbited on about 

" ... that is the day [ie 26 January, when the First Fleet carrying white people landed in 1888 and the invasion began] where we have to deal with everything and we have to embrace it all, warts and all, and accept our successes and acknowledge where we haven’t done so well.
“There are scars from things that have happened over the last 200 years and more, and we look at that like anyone looks at their entire life. ..."
Well if his life has included the near genocide of an entire people ... I don't know where to start. Who is the "we" in this statement? Is he saying that white people committing near genocide is an example of "where we haven't done so well"? Are Indigenous people included in this "we"? What was it that they "haven't done so well"? They didn't gracefully accept their new overlords? What is he talking about?