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Racism and all its ugliness (Part 1)

From an early age, I became a keen observer who developed a dislike for racism and using free speech to promote it. With minimal formal education, the word ‘observation’ became integral to my private classroom. I examined and considered everything. Nothing escaped my scrutiny or sensory surveillance as I watched people, nature, and life. On occasion, I observed racism, and it saddened me.

The recent accusations of racism against the Hawthorn Football Club had the same effect on me as it has on many other occasions. I have experienced it in numerous forms. I love my country, but the truth of it is that racists walk among us.

It is alleged that a member of the club’s coaching panel told an Indigenous player to leave his partner and see that she had an abortion. The player in question said he was also manipulated into removing his phone’s SIM card (so that he could not contact his partner).

The same player also alleges that the officials made him leave his home and move in with an assistant coach. The persons involved were seniors in the club hierarchy. “He told me to kill my unborn kid,” the player said.

How is it possible, if the truth of these allegations is proven, that people can unscrupulously abuse the lives of others and the great game itself?

One weekend in 2018, I was watching my grandsons playing basketball. One of the boys in our team was born in Somalia, and I observed how well he got on with his teammates.

At the time, a few families with African heritage had settled in our area. I observed the mateship of their winning endeavours and the generous enthusiasm of their frivolity between matches.

The connectedness of their fun, friendship and silliness was a delight. The dark lad is of enormous talent with a generous smile, a face as black as night and gregarious nature.

I observed that children make mature judgments unhindered by the prejudicial ignorance of adults.

As a small boy, I recalled being told what side of the street to walk to school because Jews lived on the other side.

How people became racist eluded me until, at around 10 or 12 years of age, I observed that people were called racists if they displayed characteristics of thinking that people with darker skin were inferior to those with white. As I became older, I learnt that it wasn’t just the equivalent of the sun tan we white kids tried to get during the summer. There was more to racism than just one’s skin colour.

I lived through the post-war era of immigration when Australians belittled and sneered at Italians and Greeks.

Then later, with a bi-partisan agreement, we accepted the Vietnamese who came by boat. But not before debasing them with the worst parts of our uniquely Australian prejudice.

Memories now come back to me of a pub I used to have a few drinks at on my way home from work. The beer garden attracted a cohort of Aussie builders who subcontracted concreting work to a group of Italians.

I would observe how the Aussie fellows would run them down with the foulest language behind their backs and then drink with them without a hint of rebuke when they arrived.

There was a time when a relation travelling by caravan around Australia rang me from some remote area highly populated by Indigenous people; after the usual greeting, my relation conveyed the following words.

“I’m not a racist but … ” (When you hear someone say those words, they generally are.) A tirade of critical commentary followed about every aspect of Aboriginal culture and living. I do not doubt that some of her experiences were true.

However, there wasn’t any situation she described that I hadn’t seen in city society. Her comments were, therefore, racist. The singling out of any group for the reason of drawing attention to their colour is disgusting. to me.

At a junior football final, a couple of years ago, a teenage boy stood behind me, verbalising a young aboriginal player of immense talent. I allowed his insults to insinuate themselves into the minds around me before they became too much for me.

The Aboriginal lad had heard the remarks and was somewhat distressed. I turned to the boy with the uncouth mouth and said; “So yours is what a racist face looks like.”

The teenager slunk away, probably not used to having his racism confronted. I find all forms of racism abhorrent and believe it needs to be confronted when encountered.

It was a little brave of me to do what I did because I am getting on in years, but still, we must face it head-on.

In watching the antics of children of different races in their play, we can bear witness to the absence of hate.

But also, the sins of those who, in their ignorance, would abuse our decency.

And those who cannot concede that we were all black once.

Children celebrate differences and prove that racism is not a part of the human condition. It is taught or acquired. You have to learn it; those who tutor it and preach it are to be pitied for their ignorance and foolishness. No one is born a racist, but we are born into racist societies.

What is racism?

It is best described in two parts. Firstly, it is the belief that one race is superior to another. It demonstrates differences in human characteristics and abilities, one being superior to another.

Secondly, it is discrimination or intolerance based on race. Racism is preserved in many and various ways. Even Christian art propagates the myth of Jesus being white when he would have been dark-skinned and of Middle Eastern appearance. But art depicts him as white with European features and, more often than not, as effeminate.

Christians also cannot accept that dark-skinned people were responsible for introducing religion into society.

Even the law disproportionally targets people of colour, increasing the incarceration of indigenous groups.

The worst perpetrators of racism are those who do it through the guise of free speech.

 

 

And speaking of Pauline Hanson, Senator Jordan Steele-John tweeted:

@MehreenFaruqi powerfully spoke in the chamber about the heinously racist remarks made against her by Pauline Hanson last week. Here is an opportunity for this government to sincerely condemn racism and hold those who spew hatred accountable.

I hope they take it.

 

Link to Part 2

My thought for the day

It says something about the moral sickness in a supposedly enlightened society when the right to abuse each other, in the name of free speech, needs to be enshrined in law.

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1 comment

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  1. wam

    It is oct, lord, so I don’t have to rely on you for warmth on a saturday morning and there is certainly no giggle in racism. The hawthorne incidents, beginning with Kennet’s slur about rioli’s wife’s clothes, are outlined in an independent report and make controversy which is the manna to the media. That is racism The collingwood incidents are racism The ‘never noticed Aborigines till the shiny black Africans came’ is racism
    The booing was racism Asking Eddie to get out of the pool is racism. There are many incidents of phon racism but this is not one of them. To call such comments racism hides the Australian society’s deep rooted belief in the inferiority of Australian Aboriginals hawthorne racism. You are correct about learning to be racist. We should not be pitying those who are racist we should be instituting mechanisms to reveal racism in our society. All teachers, police, armed service, public servants and politicians their racist beliefs exposed and treated.

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