Much has been made of racism and racist attitudes in Australia recently. MinimalState’s own HeathG made the case in the wake of the racially charged bumper sticker debacle that underlying racially prejudiced sentiment in this country should be exposed, rather than banned.
It’s not the outspokenly prejudiced that I’m concerned about though – it’s the rest of us. You know, the one’s who “aren’t” racist.
I’ll wait a minute while your defensiveness dies back down as you detect the sarcasm. Good. Moving on then.
I’ve always thought that the way we use words and how a question is posed can give a valuable insight into it’s answer, and this one has always been a favourite of mine.
We seem to be asking a lot the question “Are we racist?”. To that I respond with another question. Who, exactly, is ‘we’?
I don’t suppose it’s our immigrant population. Obviously ‘they’ can’t be racist about themselves. You know, the ones who populate ‘our’ call centres and taxi ranks, causing no end of strife because they can’t speak ‘our’ language. I mean, ‘they’ only account for what, a mere 24% of our total population? (ABS, 2006) And you know, the very Federation of our Great Nation was established on the fear of this mob taking over.
‘We’ is probably not our indigenous population either. (Pause for seeming gross misuse of grammatical structure. In context, it makes sense, but it is painful to write I assure you.)
After all, ‘We’ apologised to ‘Them’ in 2008 about the whole ‘Stolen Generation‘ thing. And you know, they probably migrated here over land bridges from Southern Asia anyway.
And definitely not visiting foreigners. We all know Sol Trujillo was just a Mexican after ‘our’ money, and his opinion didn’t really mean much anyway, so it was OK for him to go home. To Wyoming. In the USA. And don’t even get me started on Harry Connick Jr. He’s an American southerner of all things – what could he possibly know about racial prejudice?
So next time you ask yourself, or hear the question asked “Are we racist?”, try and make sure you answer with the understanding that when we say “we”, apparently, we’re asking about the attitude of those true-blue, first fleet, 7th generation Aussie whitefolk.
In which case, if you ask me – the original question kind of answers itself.