Racism in modern day societies

By · 07 July, 2020 · Blog, Features

By Genevieve Whitford

If you ever asked me – I would say unbudgingly that Australia is one of the most hypercritical countries to exist. 

Recently, leaked footage of the murder of an American black man became viral online, which depicted him being suffocated by a white policeman. This footage generated the Black Lives Matter protests around the world. From its origin, Minneapolis to London, Syria, France, Canada, Germany and even right here in Australia. In fact, there have been Black Lives Matter protests in almost every city of Australia, and more is predicted to come. Whilst these protests are for a good cause, Australians need to realise that before we attempt to solve other countries internal issues, we need to fix our own. Around a million of us are eager to jump on the global bandwagon and protest against racism in America, yet little to none of us will address the prominent racism that intertwines into our culture right here in Australia. 

Racism is a major reason for the poor health of Indigenous Australians and explains the wide gap in socioeconomic and educational opportunities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for over 60,000 years. They established complex societies and cultures across the entire continent. Since the invasion of non-indigenous Australians, the lives of these people have been dramatically impacted and changed. While a minor portion of bigoted Australians may dispute that they ‘improved’ the lives of these people, those decisions are not and will never be theirs to make. Since the invasion, traditional culture and lifestyles of the Aboriginal community have begun to gradually fade, and every year we lose more and more of our historic essence, as well and the language and Dreamtime stories of their ancestors. It is truly devastating that we as a nation are allowing our own Indigenous heritage and customs to perish. I wonder, will our future descendants look back to the time we are at now and wish we did more to conserve our Indigenous history?

Until 1967, we as a nation did not consider our own Indigenous Australians as ‘people’. Rather, as Flora and Fauna. The history of Indigenous people in Australia over the last two hundred years since the arrival of Europeans is one of great suffering. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it’s improved majorly. A study found that Indigenous Victorian adults were four times more likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to have experienced racism, this confirms the reality of the problem. You may wonder; how deep is the root of our country’s negated racial prejudice? Racism isn’t the result of ignorance or stupidity, it’s deliberately encouraged and manifested into mainstream culture by governments, the mainstream press and big businesses. Driving a wedge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians does benefit capitalism in Australia. The wealthiest of Australia, possess a hunger in the procurement of land, labour and resources that are owned by Aboriginal Australians. A prime example of this is the Rio Tinto fiasco. Rio Tinto is the world’s second-largest metals and mining corporation who are known for extracting and producing iron ore, copper, diamonds, gold and uranium. Around a month ago, on May the 21st, Rio Tinto destroyed the ancient Indigenous site of two Juukan gorge rock caves in WA, dating back 46,000 years. This was a sacred site, belonging to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama traditional landowners. The Juukan gorge sites held national significance and formed a key segment of the heritage of all Australians. The existence of these caves was vital, not only for the Indigenous community but also for Australian historical records and studies. Carvings in this site and also in many others are crucial for historians and archaeologists to learn and gather information about the deep history of both Australian land and climate but also on indigenous people’s history. The Rio Tinto situation is just one of the numerous sacred sites which have been destroyed or damaged due to the industrial growth in Australia, Indigenous sacred sites are a fundamental part of Aboriginal cultural identity.

One of the most tenacious aspects regarding racism in Australia is the very denial of its existence.

The only way to fix this problem is to address it and acknowledge that it exists. That’s the first step in the right direction.

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