Australia is founded on white supremacy.
The overt belief that there is a racial hierarchy manifested itself across the colonies of all the European empires. In Australia it quickly became the basis of a system that established, and enforced, the ideology that the natural order of things is something along the lines of: ‘white people on the top, Aboriginal people on the bottom, and everyone else somewhere in between – but still definitely way below white people’.
That belief, which was very clearly established, and has been demonstrated in countless cruel and imaginative ways, has meant that Black lives didn’t matter as much as white lives.
The fact of that history should be self-evident at this point. But it isn’t, because a lot of white people don’t like to admit that it is true. As seen with our PM Scott Morrison really struggling to grasp the reality that slavery existed in Australia.
Today’s standard for talking about Australia’s history is that the Prime Minister of Australia says that slavery never existed. Then, when asked whether the well-known practice of “blackbirding” could be considered to have been slavery, according to the Guardian:
Morrison told reporters he did not want to get into the “history wars”, but acknowledged “there have been all sorts of hideous practices that have taken place, and so I’m not denying any of that”.
“OK? I’m not denying any of that. It’s all recorded”.
Admitting that slavery existed in Australia is apparently too strong a position for the PM. He won’t deny it, but he also won’t name it more specifically than saying ‘hideous practices’ in his efforts to dodge the “history wars”.
He also took the time to clarify his comments, and by ‘clarify’ I mean ‘made them infinitely more vague and convoluted’. As the ABC reported:
“The comments I was referring to was how the New South Wales settlement was first established and the views that were communicated at the time in forming the New South Wales colony,” Mr Morrison said.
“One of the principles was to be that Australia, or in that case NSW, was not to have lawful slavery.
The PM never says what ‘views that were communicated at the time’ he was talking about. He does however say that those views came to fruition because ‘there was not the laws that ever approved of slavery in this country’.
“There was not the laws that ever approved of slavery’ hardly makes sense, but unless there were actually any laws that expressly prohibited slavery then the PM is talking shit.
There were no such laws preventing slavery, which is why he talked in circles about “views that were communicated at the time”. He knew his double-speak in denying that slavery didn’t not exist couldn’t hold up to scrutiny.
To be fair, it’s traditionally been a fairly safe bet to assume that if you’re the Prime Minister and you deny the existence of racism in some convoluted way, then nobody will apply any public scrutiny anyway so you can pretty much just say whatever you want.
But, with the help of a few intrepid researchers and lawyers, I was able to work out that he is most likely referring to something that Arthur Phillip wrote in 1786, after being declared the first Governor of New South Wales but before departing England in 1787. He wrote: “The laws of this country [England] will of course be introduced in New South Wales, and there is one that I would wish to take place from the moment his majesty’s forces take possession of the country: that there can be no slavery in a free land, and consequently no slaves.”
But ‘the views that were communicated at the time’ never eventuated into an actual anti-slavery law, it was just a lofty ideal that he wrote two years before the first fleet landed in Australia.
And Scott Morrison undoubtedly knows that. When he realised he’d fucked up by saying that slavery never existed, he asked for someone to spin something up for him to make it sound true, and that’s the best they could do. Luckily, even though it didn’t make sense, it was also hard to understand so nobody noticed or bothered to go much further, and the staffer who wrote the talking points undoubtedly breathed a huge sigh of relief.
And then after ‘clarifying’ his comments, Scott Morrison apologised.
He apologised because his comments “were not intended to give offence, and if they did I deeply regret that and apologise for that.”
That’s what we call a ‘fauxpology’, folks. And a pretty amateur one at that.
Apologising *if* people were offended, but not for the comments themselves, which were technically correct (not really) and therefore need no apology.
That’s today’s standard for how Australia’s leaders talk about the racist history of this country.
“a prick like that doesn’t deserve a statue”
No wonder he didn’t want to get involved in the ‘history wars’ – it involves a lot of time and energy fact checking just to call out people on their racist revisionist bullshit – and *that*, all of that up there, was a lot. And I’m not even done yet… (sorry).
Now, while it may have been true that NSW didn’t have any law allowing or banning slavery when it was founded, the PM’s final claim, that “there was not the laws that have ever approved of slavery in this country” is just wrong.
No unpacking of twists or turns or digging for hidden references needed: it’s just not true.
When Australia was colonised (via the concept of “Terra Nullius” or nobody’s land, which the High Court in Mabo deemed to be a “fiction”) British law applied – including, by 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act.
But, according to Joshua Creamer, a Barrister at Law and Waanyi and Kalkadoon man, who was recently involved in the Stolen Wages class action in Queensland, “under the Protection Acts in Queensland, the 1946 regulation required each persons on a mission to perform up to 32 hours a week unpaid” which according to Creamer equates to “Legislative slavery”. For him, Arthur Philipps’ words were “the idea but not the reality” because Australia had “slaves in practice and slaves in laws”.
And, if you look at modern unemployment practices (that disproportionately target Indigenous people), there are also rules requiring a certain amount of work hours to qualify for unemployment benefits. It isn’t technically ‘work’ or ‘employment’, so people under this system don’t qualify for sick leave, superannuation payments, or even worker’s comp if they have any injury while at their ‘not-job’. There are even more onerous conditions if you live in a remote community – a scheme designed with full knowledge that it will target Indigenous people almost exclusively. If it’s in an income management area you aren’t even ‘not-paid’ in cash – you get a modern day rations card for between 50%-80% of your ‘not-income’. So, ‘not-slavery’ perhaps, but still ticking a lot of boxes around being forced to work under threat of punishment, having no rights as a worker, and disproportionately targeting Indigenous people.
Simply put, Australia doesn’t have a good track record, or even a good current record, when it comes to lawful unpaid labour in Australia, especially not for how it values and ‘not-rewards’ the labour of Indigenous people.
Australian history, just like modern politics, is full of techniques, technicalities and linguistic loopholes to downplay or completely deny the realities of racism.
Over the past few decades it’s become something of a sport for politicians and commentators who love to say racist things with enough plausible deniability to also say that they aren’t racist.
They’ve gotten so good at denying claims of racism and white people have gotten so bad at identifying racism that if I ask most white people in Australia today to picture a white supremacist, they’ll invariably imagine someone in a KKK uniform even though they’ve probably never seen one in real life. Very few people will picture someone in a police uniform, or a TV presenter uniform, or a Prime Minister uniform.
One technique for denying historic racism which has become increasingly common in recent years, and of which Scott Morrison is a big fan, is arguing that applying ‘today’s standards’ to historic people and events is ‘changing history’. The argument goes further in suggesting that to stop celebrating racist holidays, or tear down statues to white supremacists, or even just not build them new ones, is even worse – eradicating history!
But I’d argue, for example, that calling Australia’s first Prime Minister Edmund Barton a white supremacist isn’t changing or eradicating history, it’s just accurately describing it.
Edmund Barton, was an avowed, loud and proud, no holds barred, white supremacist.
He believed firmly and resolutely that white people were superior and all other races were inferior, and talked about it openly:
“There is no racial equality. There is that basic inequality. These races are, in comparison with white races – I think no-one wants convincing of this fact – unequal and inferior.”
And it’s not eradicating history to say that a prick like that doesn’t deserve a statue, or an electorate in his name, or any of the other honorifics that he has been given.
And if we did/when we do take those things away from him, we will not have changed history. We will not have eradicated history. Because history is history. Barton will still have been Australia’s first Prime Minister, and nothing can ever change or eradicate that. And when kids go to look him up on Wikipedia it will still tell them:
Sir Edmund “Toby” Barton, GCMG, KC (18 January 1849 – 7 January 1920) was an Australian politician and judge who served as the first Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1901 to 1903. He resigned to become a founding member of the High Court of Australia, where he served until his death. Also, he was a white supremacist.
Ok, so maybe Wikipedia doesn’t currently say that last sentence but it should, and if it did it wouldn’t be changing or eradicating history – it would be honestly and accurately describe it.
It is worth noting that every Prime Minister since around the late 20th Century has felt compelled to answer a resolute ‘No!’ to “Is Australia racist?”, when every Prime Minister before then would have answered, ‘Yes, of course Australia is racist. Racism’s great! Go Whites, the most superior of all races – Woo!”
Today’s standards do not allow for calling a white supremacist PM a white supremacist.
“the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”
The resistance to calling a racist ‘racist’ does make some sense. If we start judging people in accordance with ‘today’s standards’ for the things they did, or the things they said and believed in, then a lot of white people in history start to look bad. Like, *a lot* of them. So would the institutions they established which, to be clear, is literally all of the institutions, from the police to parliament. And the people today who want to call them heroes and build or maintain statues in their honour or defend their role in history, and defend specific interpretations of history itself would start to look pretty bad too.
Apparently using ‘today’s standards’ for descriptions of people in history as being white supremacists is seen as dangerous precedent, a slippery slope.
The acceptance of this resistance to accurately describe history highlights just how low today’s standards are when it comes to opposing white supremacy and racial discrimination whiether it is in the past or in the present.
The fact is, if ‘today’s standards’ includes things like ‘white supremacy is bad’ or ‘slavery is bad’ or ‘invasions are bad’ or that ‘Black lives matter’, then I’m afraid that today doesn’t stand up to today’s standards.
Which must be why we can’t even say ‘a cop killing an Aboriginal person, then being investigated by his mates, and eventually being let off, is bad’.
Hell, forget ‘bad,’ we can’t even say ‘possibly bad’. And obviously, ‘certainly enough of a risk of being bad that we really shouldn’t keep letting police investigate police when this happens’ isn’t even on the radar.
You don’t get to argue ‘bad apples’ if whenever one turns up you defend it as being a good apple who is working under very difficult circumstances, put it on paid administrative leave, and then throw it back into the barrel.
If the metrics for ‘today’s standards’ are judged by Lieutenant General David Morrison AO’s concept that “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept” then it seems the killing of Aboriginal people by the police is a perfectly acceptable thing to happen, and it’s acceptable for it to keep happening.
And unless something changes it will keep happening.
Perhaps when people try to judge this period 100 years from now, they will do what we are being asked to do now with history and simply say “Well, it was acceptable at the time’.
The problem with that is that whether today or in history, ‘what is acceptable at the time’ tends to focus on ‘acceptable to those people in power who do it and get away with it’ and not the standards of those who didn’t want to be killed.
Ultimately what all this suggests is that, white people whether in 1901, or 1786, or 2020, apparently simply didn’t / don’t understand that murder, rape, kidnapping, invading, massacring, enslaving are bad things – and therefore we shouldn’t judge them too harshly without hearing their side of the story and looking at the context of the time in which they lived. Who knows, maybe they still deserve that statue after all!
One context of the time we should all definitely look at though, is police culture. A culture of violence, of secrecy, of total unaccountability, and increased militarisation. This culture in societies still so heavily influenced by, and unwilling and unable to meaningfully address, white supremacy, very firmly places a target on the backs of Black people. And it leaves people who want to help fix it unsure of where to begin, because white supremacy is everywhere, and it is all connected – so do you begin with racist police, racist laws, racist friends, the racist institutions you work for, or the ones who are supposed to work for you, racist politicians, racist tv shows, racist celebrities, racist uncles, racist media reporting, or do we focus on education, as though there aren’t also racist teachers and curriculum writers and as though all racism is a matter of ignorance and not a matter of power and control. As though the people who profited in the form of free access to stolen labour to established systems of wealth on stolen land did so purely out of ignorance, and the mass accumulation of wealth and power was simply an accidental by-product.
We need to fight racism on all fronts, and each front will require different specific responses, but when police are killing Black people and not being held accountable then we need to stop that, specifically. There are lots of things people can do be a part of that change, to draw attention to it, to support it, to help explain to people why they should support it, or to educate people about the underlying issues, but ultimately if this doesn’t eventually lead to reforms that directly hold police to account for their actions, then they will continue to be unaccountable.
Educating white people that Black people are people is great and all, but so is accountability for white people who kill Black people.
As MLK Jr said, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”
“no one cares that you have an Aboriginal friend, Karen!”
Some people are just not willing to see these connections though. The connections between white supremacy in our past and in our present, or the connection between racist thought, racist rhetoric and racist violence, whether it is enacted by the state or merely excused by it.
Many struggle to admit white supremacy ever existed and won’t even entertain the idea that it still does, except perhaps for those on the extreme fringes, and even then they think that some of them are probably ‘very fine people’.
The reality, which continues to be denied, is that white supremacy isn’t just for ‘skinheads’ and ‘rednecks’, and it never had been.
It is the foundational belief which Australia is built upon. White supremacy is the most accurate term to describe it when you look at the colonisers who believed in the idea that white people are superior to all other peoples. It is an accurate description of countless key historical figures in this country to call them white supremacists, some may have been ‘nicer’ to Aboriginal people than others, but they still all shared the belief in white superiority. Whether they thought Aboriginal people should be saved, civilised or eradicated – it was all still premised on a worldview that clearly saw white people as superior and Aboriginal people as inferior. Diminishing the significance of this reality by saying ‘but everyone [eg white people] was racist back then’ isn’t a great argument, if anything that makes it worse. It’s effectively arguing that while two wrongs don’t make a right, millions of wrongs occurring across multiple countries and over several centuries somehow does.
It’s also the obvious conclusion to say it is white supremacy, and to say that it is wrong, when you look at how Australian society has been structured since colonisation and continues to be in the present. When you see how white people have always been and continue to be in positions of power over other people (like how schools and business and citizenship used to be ‘whites only’ institutions, and how top positions across society today are still overwhelmingly dominated by white people, and how the most marginalised and disadvantaged people are Aboriginal) – you are looking at white supremacy.
If that is ‘today’s standards’, the standard you accept, then you accept that some people are simply incapable of making decisions for themselves, and you accept that Aboriginal people will always be disadvantaged and that Indigenous self-determination is a foolish goal (as John Howard described it when he abolished ATSIC in 2004, ‘a failed experiment’). And that means you think white supremacy is an acceptable standard for how our society operates.
If your worldview is built upon the same foundation as Australia’s colonisers, it makes sense that if you need more people in your white controlled country, then you’d prefer to bring in superior rather than inferior people (like the White Australia Policy tried to do, or like our ongoing efforts to keep out non-white refugees).
And many of the people who think this, and who will argue relentlessly that ‘Australia is not racist’ are those who are quick to throw in the dictionary definition of racism, and explain how they ‘can’t be racist’ because they ‘have an Aboriginal friend/have a deep respect for Aboriginal culture/are just speaking the truth’.
And those of us on the side of “Of course Australia is racist,” in these debates, well, we regularly point out, in varying ways, that ‘racism, in all of its manifestations, is slightly more complicated than can be defined within a few dot points in a dictionary, and lexicographers, the people who write and compile dictionaries, are not experts on racism anyway and why did you think they would be? The history of lexicography in Australia, which led to that being the definition of racism in the dictionary in the first place, is part of the same legacy of white supremacy that we are talking about when we say that Australia is racist, and no one cares that you have an Aboriginal friend and have a great respect for Aboriginal culture and think you’re only telling the truth, Karen, because what you’re saying is still some white supremacy loving bullshit!’
If they understood that what they are saying actually does meet the dictionary definition that they are so quick to hide behind, then they’d also understand why “I’m not racist, I have an Aboriginal friend” is completely irrelevant to discussions about if something is racist or not. They would only use a defence like that if they thought racism was something else; like the abject and absolute hatred of other races, and all members of all other races; hatred which exists explicitly and solely because of an underlying belief in the inferiority of other races – so for them, liking that one Aboriginal person when they were in primary school serves as irrefutable proof that they aren’t racist.
White people who believe in white supremacy have shifted their rhetoric and their language a fair bit in the past century or so. So much so that many of them don’t even realise that what they believe in is white supremacy. (This isn’t ‘unconscious bias’ though, it is very conscious, very active, and very dangerous bias). There also aren’t many of those who do know who will openly admit it, but the belief hasn’t changed. This is in part why white supremacists today still have so much adoration for the white supremacists of yesteryear.
They believe in it innately, without even thinking about it, like it is just one of those facts that you don’t even need to speak aloud. For them, it is a universal truth upon which all other truths are built.
The only change since Barton’s time is that now it isn’t acceptable to express your beliefs using racial slurs, or using words like ‘white’ or ‘races’ or any overtly racialised language – so they have changed the terms, but the ideas have remained.
Begrudgingly accepting new ways to express old bigotries has been around so long it even has a name, political correctness, as in ‘What? I can’t even call a *insert slur here* a *insert slur here* anymore? It’s political correctness gone mad I tells ya!’
This is why so many white people today think not being racist equates to a list of words they shouldn’t say, and ask us relentlessly to provide them this list in an easy to understand, preferably dot point, format.
If white supremacists today want to be seen as respectable, then they know they can no longer talk about ‘races’ but they can talk all they want about ‘cultures’ and ‘civilisations’.
They can no longer say ‘white’ but they can talk about ‘Western civilisation’ to the moon and back, where they will undoubtedly add that humanity never would have got to the moon without Western Civilisation.
And today, they definitely can’t say that one race is inferior and that no amount of policy or goodwill, education or assimilation is going to make non-white people equal with white people, like Edmund Barton said about ‘the Chinaman’:
“There is a deep-set difference, and we see no prospect and no promise of its ever being effaced. Nothing in this world can put these two races upon an equality [sic]. Nothing we can do by cultivation, by refinement, or by anything else will make some races equal to others.”
But instead of saying they are inferior, they can simply list out all of the ways in which we are inferior and, in case anyone jumps up to point out that many of those things are the direct result of ongoing racist policies and practices, they can pre-empt that that by adding that government policy has been full of goodwill and good intentions and money.
That’s what Aaron Patrick did in the Financial Review this week to “perfectly encapsulate the tragedy of the black Australian experience: well-meaning policy unable to overcome terrible health, substandard education, violence and endemic substance abuse”.
You reduced his death to a biscuit in the first sentence insisting that race had nothing to do with it while invoking an *almost perfect* racialised trope. I mean what’s wrong with you? https://t.co/9wWtsLMR7J pic.twitter.com/uShS3PKJzB
— non compliant native (@drcbond) June 10, 2020
How tragic though, that apparently not even the superiority of white people, with all of their superior morals, superior technologies, and superior government structures, is enough to save Aboriginal people from our own inferiority. Such a shame. But they keep trying anyway, because that’s what people with superior morals do for their inferiors – they try, because they care. Really heart-warming stuff!
‘How could anyone write such a thing in 2020?’ I hear you ask.
He might have heard Phillip Ruddock in 2000 quite explicitly saying that Indigenous disadvantage exists because of how primitive Aboriginal people were when white people turned up:
“But we are starting from a very low base. We’re dealing with an indigenous population that had little contact with the rest of the world. We are dealing with people who were essentially hunter gatherers. They didn’t have chariots. I don’t think they invented the wheel.”
In ‘today’s standard’ this is what they mean when they talk of ‘closing the gap’.
In the standards of yesteryear, they called it ‘civilising the savage’ or the ‘White Man’s Burden’.
“How far white supremacy has moved between 1901 and today?”
Even Scott Morrison’s statements from the other day weren’t much better than Aaron’s or Phil’s though, just slightly better coded.
“It’s health policy, it’s youth policy, it’s a suicide policy, it’s employment policy, it’s welfare policy – this is an incredibly complicated area and not all Indigenous experiences are the same.
“There is no shortage of funds being thrown at this issue, but clearly the application of funds by governments over decades and decades and decades is not getting the results we want.
“I can assure you it’s not through a lack of will, it’s an admission of the complexity and the difficulty of the task.”
Ultimately what the PM is saying is that closing the gap/civilising the savage is indeed a complex and difficult part of the white man’s burden, and failure in this regard is not a lack of will or money, but admission of the complexity and difficulty of trying to fix Aboriginal people.
White supremacy then and white supremacy now, is an innate belief in the superiority of whiteness, sorry, of Western civilisation. This is why we are so often told that we should be thankful for invasion. That it was a good thing, because without invasion I wouldn’t have an iPhone! Without white invasion, we’d still be ‘stuck in the past,’ or even worse, we might have been invaded by ‘the Chinamen,’ (which I’ve been assured would have been way worse for us because, apparently, ‘in comparison with white races’ they are ‘unequal and inferior’).
As Tony Abbott said:
“What happened on the 26th of January 1788 was, on balance, for everyone, Aboriginal people included, a good thing because it brought Western civilisation to this country.”
That quote really doesn’t read as well if you go back and swap out ‘Western civilisation’ for ‘white supremacy’, so I can see why white supremacists agreed to make that change, but it’s still a shit thing to say either way.
I imagine it would sound even worse if someone was confident enough in the plausible deniability of their coded language, and in the righteousness of white supremacy, to throw in the word ‘superiority,’ like Tony Abbott did when he said:
“Cultures are not all equal. We should be ready to proclaim the clear superiority of our culture to one that justifies killing people in the name of God.”
Imagine, the idea of white people using God as a justification for killing people?
Inconceivable! (Excluding all the times that they have done, and continue to do, exactly that.)
Those remarks show how far white supremacy has moved between 1901 and today in terms of ‘what is an acceptable thing for a Prime Minister to say?’
Barton was able to straight up say that white supremacy is a thing, and instead of giving a justification to prove it, he was able to just say that it was self-evident. Abbott, on the other hand, had to swap out ‘racial superiority’ for ‘cultural superiority’ and also felt obliged to provide an emotive justification, albeit a flimsy and hypocritical one.
The belief that Indigenous peoples are better off having been invaded, dispossessed, massacred, controlled, and discriminated against than if we’d just been left alone, is a powerful one. It can justify just about any historical, or current, atrocity.
Because under that belief sits the idea that Aboriginal people are so savage, and so dangerous, even to ourselves, that no matter what white people have ever done or could ever do, it couldn’t possibly be a greater danger to us than we are to ourselves.
As Paul Gleeson wrote earlier this week,
“the greatest threat to aboriginals and negroes is themselves”
Sure, by modern standards this article looks very racist, but you’ve got to understand that it was a different world earlier this morning when this was printed. https://t.co/EBkieJ5g3M
— Pearson In The Wind (@LukeLPearson) June 14, 2020
So, let’s recap for a minute, if you think that Western civilisation is the best civilisation in the world, and Australia is the best country in the world, and that Aboriginal people are lucky that Western civilisation came to Australia because it brought superior technology, a superior governance structure, and a superior culture, and you think that Australia is doing its absolute best to help Aboriginal people but failing anyway because Aboriginal people are such a great danger to ourselves – then you believe in white, or western if you prefer, superiority, and in turn, Indigenous inferiority. But sure, tell me again how that’s not racist because you have an Aboriginal friend or because you are so well-meaning.
This is ‘today’s standard’ for understanding racism in Australia.
“All of those changes came about because of protest”
Many people will point out that lots of other things have changed since then too, as ‘further proof’ that Australia today is a much less racist place than the Australia of 1901.
We no longer have state sanctioned massacres of Aboriginal people, so that’s good.
We no longer have the White Australia Policy which, for the record also helped to abolish the slavery that Scott Morrison says we never had, by banning Blackbirding, so that’s good. (Although, since we are talking about Australia becoming less racist, it feels worth pointing out that banning Blackbirding wasn’t an anti-racist gesture, it was a super-racist gesture – wanting to stop bringing in black people, and kick out those already here, so they could bring in more white people instead. It wasn’t just a national agenda either, it was a game the whole family could play.)
Aboriginal people can now vote for which white supremacist controls the policies shaping their lives, so that’s good.
We no longer have rules which control where Aboriginal people can live, work, if we get paid for our work (sorry, we still do have those rules if we’re on the CDP), or who we can marry, so that’s good.
We no longer have rules which explicitly say that Aboriginal people aren’t allowed in pubs, swimming pools, or cinemas – there are still lots of places that don’t let Aboriginal people in pubs, but at least they don’t have a rule saying that they can anymore! So that’s good?
The point is, yes, there is a long list of things that can be held up as proof for how much less racist Australia is today, and some of those actually are good things, but there’s still a big point of contention here.
These things didn’t come about because white people in power stopped believing in white supremacy or decided on their own to stop being racist because racism is bad. All of those changes came about because of protest.
They came about because of people dedicating their lives, and often risking their lives, to demand change. Hard fought, hard won, and just as hard to keep, changes. Rights.
Land rights, the Racial Discrimination Act (18c), Treaty, Self-determination, the fights for justice for the Stolen Generations and Stolen Wages – and even the more seemingly trivial things like Australia’s flag, the date of Australia Day, or if we should keep building new statues for white supremacists.
The exact things that the Black Lives Matter movement and the Stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody movement are trying to achieve right now.
The exact same things that our government, along with many willing media accomplices, are trying to stop in any way they can, just like they always try to stop anything that threatens the reality of, or even the mythology underpinning, Australia as a white supremacist nation.
Against any, and all, of these issues, they will gladly bring the full weight of every power at their disposal to ensure the status quo of white supremacy is maintained – legislation, media campaigns, inciting public racism, defending public racism, denying public racism is racism.
And if none of that works, they still have the police, who are willing to come out in their dozens to protect Captain Cook statues or to ‘disperse’ Indigenous protesters trying to defend sacred sites from destruction, whichever the case may be.
So, when our PM tries to argue that racism is a thing of the past, that slavery never happened, and that there is nothing to protest against in Australia – just know that this is bullshit.
We cannot rely solely on the goodwill of those in power to do the right thing because, when it comes to winding back racism at least, that’s just not how it works, and it never has been.
Change happens when we demand that change happens.
And we demand change by marching in the streets, by calling out bullshit, by exposing racist and white supremacist practices and beliefs, by developing solutions for change, demanding their implementation, building systems to monitor if they are implemented, and processes of accountability to ensure people responsible for eradicating racism either do their jobs or lose their jobs.
We cannot and will not accept ‘today’s standards’ – we must ensure there are new, better ones.
So keep marching.
It’s the only way positive change is ever made.
If they don’t give us justice, we don’t give them peace.
Luke Pearson is a Gamilaroi man, and is the founder and CEO of IndigenousX.