A forced out of my shell-harbour reflection,
Where to begin? That’s right. Australia doesn’t shy away from living up to its terrible international reputation as one of the most racist countries in the world. Unsure about the legitimacy of my anecdotes? Interestingly, the average Australian, mainly from the Caucasian race, tend to invalidate the experiences of those who unfortunately encounter racism by outrightly denying that racism exists and even propose the existence of a fictional term “reverse racism”. Still, don’t believe me? In the spirit of true denial, let’s say I wouldn’t be surprised given the country’s historical and contemporary treatment of its first people. Does terra nullis ring any bells? I mean, if the refusal to acknowledge the existence of the traditional owners and only overturning this fictitious ruling in 1992 but still asserting British sovereignty thereafter doesn’t scream denial, then we might as well call it what it is. DARVO!
Deny the behaviour.
Attack the individual doing the confronting.
Reverse the roles of
Coined by Jennifer J. Freyd from the University of Oregon, this framework originally designed to understand the abuser’s strategy in addiction and offending fits perfectly with observable racist behaviours, attitudes and thinking. Particularly the nuance that, the survivors of racism (substitution for the term victim) are always looking for racism like it’s a sport albeit reality demonstrating otherwise. Surely by now, if not in agreeance already, we should be considering that racist thinking and behaviours are forms of delusional disorders or in extreme cases, psychopathic tendencies. That is, fixed false beliefs (supremacy mindset) characterised by irrational affirmations of one’s own indoctrinated biases (stereotypes and hate for the other). However, as well-intended, as it might seem, medicalising a social and
political problem has severe ramifications such as potential to increase of hate crime and removal of accountability from the perpetrators, therefore, such complex topics deserve multifaceted solutions.
To support my claims that Australia has always been and is racist, below a slideshow with some quantifiable evidence to highlight the very real racism encountered by the Indigenous and post-colonial migrant population (sources included).
With all statistics, we understand that there will be a faction of people that we call the alliance. These are the distinguishable individuals that make Australia a liveable and enjoyable country who acknowledge that racism (personal and institutionalized) and white privilege exists. In lieu of being racist or ignorant, these individuals are usually open, willing to have a dialogue that fosters learning on both sides and are in most cases, accepting of others, support and embrace multiculturalism and speak out against racism. Ignorance, a concept foreign to allies, is exemplified by “I didn’t know it was offensive, take a joke, I was just having fun” remains an excuse for the dark ages, if I might add.
Consequently, if you find yourself deeply offended by the statistics and choose to ignore them by becoming defensive or offensive (using the narrative of reverse racism), firstly ask yourself why you are offended and comment below. If introspection is proving difficult then it might be safe to say that you still haven’t made your way to the round table of change, however, the potential to become an ally is in your enlightenment. After all, it is always better to have a seat at the table than to be left behind. And this table claims and will uphold its unbreakable vow to be inclusive.
So what inspired me to pen this objectively driven article with a sprinkle of subjective emotional experiences? Well, two notable racial incidents in a sea of microaggressive and overt racist encounters occurred during my surprise birthday getaway organised by my doting partner. Now, I was aware of the notorious racist reputation that the predominately Caucasian suburb of Shellharbour had (from friends accounts- Caucasian and dark-skinned), however, one simply doesn’t cease to exist because of haters. So once the surprise was revealed, it was excitement and vacationing business as usual. What was a great day and a half at an Oceanic landscape thus far was unexpectedly brought to a screeching halt by a chorus of children’s voices. Whilst being the next Serena Williams and decimating my partner in tennis (though he would argue otherwise), 4 Caucasian teenage girls from a nearby cabin, unprovoked, continuously yelled derogatory racial slurs from their bedroom towards us for an hour. Several witnesses were present at a lawn bowling competition nearby. My partner and I mentally ignored this though it had visibly dampened our mood and our vacation thus ending our tennis game prematurely.
My response to racism has evolved over time. From a myriad of emotions such as sadness, disappointment, annoyance and anger to indifference (removing the power to hurt me) and a mindful approach where I recognize and acknowledge my distressing emotions without being entangled in them. This approach is very fulfilling because if I choose to engage the other person in positive dialogue, I have a balanced approach. Not to say that there aren’t days where micro-aggressions test and stir the fight in me.
Long story short, we decided to approach the family who agreed that the teenage girls would benefit from conversing with us. Only one of the four girls demonstrated remorse by being tearful. It was evident that these biased views and “casual racist attitudes” (no such thing as casual racism!) originated from home and were nurtured in the school environment as the father so eloquently stated…
My boy and myself muck around by saying it (racial slur) to each other. We would never say it to anyone else
With a minor somewhat victorious discussion, we retreated to our temporary home but the turmoil hadn’t ended. Another group of teenage and adult guests making their way towards their cabins made racially inappropriate comments towards us evidenced by their pointing in our direction and the overt comments. By this point, emotional exhaustion was painted on our faces so we chose to ignore this and hibernate but still party in our abode (mindfulness guided us). An amicable decision was made to file a complaint against these guests and request the management team prevent and address such incidences. Due to their satisfactory response (excerpt below), the name of the facility will remain anonymous and replaced with a pseudonym and number.
Why inform you about this incident? Because of denial statements such as “racism doesn’t exist, there’s barely any racism, you’re being reverse racist”. Similar unfortunate events occur almost routinely to unsuspecting tax-paying ethnic civilians who contrarily don’t look for racism. By highlighting, that there is denial, steps can be made to either change the perceptions of those who deny or leave them behind in this ever positive changing world.
it would be unfair to exclude those seemingly “fake news” facts about this country’s long historical denial of racism. Why make an emphasis on the denial of racism. Because it minimizes the severity of the problem and perpetuates racist behaviours, attitudes, and thinking. An infographic prepared by All together now organisation can assist you to catch and check yourself in the act
If you still strongly believe that survivors of racism enjoy the thrill of seeking racism like a where’s wally game then you may need another round of introspection if you do or say the following things. That is if you are interested in having a seat at the table.
There is also a short online quiz by Harvard’s Project Implicit you can take to ascertain implicit bias.
But don’t be alarmed or lose hope. There are positive outcomes and solutions for both survivors and perpetrators. To be continued…
Holding on to hope,
Like, comment and follow. Let’s create a dialogue!