Racism Denials

“Australia is not a racist country.” After apologizing for the government’s stealing aboriginal children, after the Cronulla riots, the Palm Island riots, even after two sober assessments by the Indian ambassador and former Telstra chief Sol Trujillo, it is still denied. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd initially dismissed it as “ridiculous” rather than acknowledging that Australia does have longstanding problems with racism.

After still more violent attacks on Indians in Melbourne I feel that I have to write something. What offends me most is not the violent outer-suburban racists but the network of tacit support that they receive from other parts of mainstream Australian culture. The support and cover from politicians that denies that Australia is a racist country. The support and encouragement from all aspects of Australian nationalism, for it is nationalist pride that leads to the denials in the first place.

Australia is a racist country, it was established as a racist colonial program and since then racism has been institutionalised in Australian culture. Australia has conducted the most successful program of genocides in the modern world against the aboriginal peoples of Australia, especially the Tasmanian aborigines. Australia’s white immigration policy may have ended but the political sentiment that supported it remains and is now expressed in anti-refugee detention policies and the Aboriginal intervention policy in the NT.

You have to be mentally blinkered to not see the racism in Australian culture. In one of the shared houses that I lived in we had a set of old kitchen chairs that were made in Australia and labelled: “Product of European labour only”. If you don’t believe that there is racist hatred of Indians in Melbourne then let me show you the racist graffiti against Indians scratched in the concrete footpath of Coburg.

There needs to be more action taken on the serious cultural problems, like racism, in Australia rather than denials and public relations management. To deny and mentally repress Australian racism is not the solution and will only create more and new problems. The Australian and Victorian government need to recognize that they are part of the problem rather than deny the existence of the problem. Don’t believe the equivocations, the empty apologies and denials that Australian’s make about racism – look at their actions and inactions.

About Mark Holsworth

Arts administrator, artist, musician, philosopher and writer. Writes Black Mark - Melbourne Art and Culture Critic. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

3 responses to “Racism Denials

  • christi

    AH I would totally agree!
    It was only the other day I was standing at my local bus station when I overheard a bunch of young teenagers verbally abusing an Asian girl who I was standing quite close to, and then proceeded to make lewd and inappropriate remarks about a young African man who is in the same uni course as myself. These kids are supposed to be the future of our country, and their thinking and attitude is that of people 50 years ago! (or so I thought, though from your entry and discussions from friends I would say this is more prevalent than I realised) My mother would have washed my mouth out with soap if i dared to day anything near the same calibre as these young ladies! suffice to say i had words to say to them, and then followed up with a letter to their school as they were still in uniform!
    Is it too much to ask for common human decency?

  • mchellap

    Wonderful post. Every country has it’s problems but denial is the surest way of ensuring the problem stays alive forever. I hope more Aussies start calling this spade a spade and start working toward a solution.
    Any Indian will tell you, the number of prejudices, issues, and baggages that we have can often be intimidating for us, sometimes it looks like things never change! But the good thing is that I don’t think any foreigner criticizes us as much as we do ourselves – at least for a vast majority of our issues.
    What has concerned many of us Indians is that the Aussie mainstream, not only her extreme right wing, appears to be 100% comfortable with the situation. I hope the Aussies will start by acknowledging these are racist attacks. I trust that when the society starts to call these attackers what they are, it will be that much harder to be a racist jerk.

    • Mark Holsworth

      Thanks for the comment especially because it focused me on why I am writing this blog. I think that most Australians are too comfortable with so many aspects of their culture. Australians are loath to admit to any faults and I want to change this, to make them uncomfortable.

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