Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ANTaR: "Racism Makes Me Sick"

The interest group, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR), has launched a public awareness campaign to highlight the connection between Aboriginal health ailments and racism.

ANTaR has named their campain "Racism Makes Me Sick" to alert Australians, and others, that "many health problems in the Aboriginal community" is due to racism.

The link between health and racism will, of course, raise the eyebrows of bigots who won't want to believe that such a link exists, or is credible.

In fact, an ABC NEWS report covering ANTaR's campaign drew typically tiresome comments from racist naysayers and denialists. Why am I not surprised?

Here is a selection from the reverse-racism and blame the inferior Aboriginals for their conditions crowd:

22 Apr 2008 12:14:39pm

"I may be way of the mark here, but it seems to me that the more contact an aboriginal has with white society, the healthier (on average) they seem to be."

22 Apr 2008 10:55:26am

"yes but which way does the racism flow?? is it Aboriginals racist against the western health system or what? I know any form of racism is disgusting but alarmist approaches like this do nothing but excite the government into more funding and Indigenous Australians into less independence and less trust."

22 Apr 2008 10:57:46am

"Of course. It has to be racism.

It can't be tens of thousands of years of tradition, thrown about by colonisation/invasion of another people, and the apathy of the hence disadvantaged indigenous. As a "white" Australian I'm ashamed of my forebearers' actions, but the time is over for blaming people. Now is the time for action, and until indigenous Australians act coherently and collectively, they will be destined to accept politician's handouts. Handouts that appear to exacerbate drug and alcohol addiction, handouts that divide Australians, handouts that actually build racism. Just like any other people, indigenous Australians need real leaders- people who not only can not only achieve goals at a government level, but actually LEAD their people. A leader who can inspire them to lift themselves out of the mire of depression, addiction, despair and crime. Someone needs to rise to the task."

22 Apr 2008 11:06:01am

"When white settlement in Australia began over 200 years ago, the country was inhabited by nomadic tribes living in harmony with the environment. The British had a lot to answer for back then because of the disregard they had for the native population.
Like it or not, Australia is what it is today; like other countries around it, a modern industrialised community, and if the British hadn't come here somebody else would have.
We have a duty to provide care and support for the indigenous community, but does that mean that those who choose to live unhygenically by not keeping clean, eating a balanced diet, dressing neatly, drinking to excess, or neglecting the education of their families should blame those in the developed community and call it racism?"

22 Apr 2008 11:31:20am

"Has anyone done a study into the change in life expectancy of Aborigines since colonisation? I would be willing to bet is has increased."

The last comment is laughable at best.

I wonder if "Realist" knows how many Aborigines have died because of colonialism and occupation or how many Aboriginals there would be in occupied Australia today were it not for colonialism and its murderous thievery?

The sad part about the comments selection above, and there are worse ones for you to read, is that the racist mentality displayed is shared among colonial settler nations.

If you swop Aboriginal for Indian (Canada and US) or Black in South Africa, the self-rightous white 'logic' is the same:
'If only they would clean themselves (Natives are dirty to whiteness), find a job (white people are superior because they work hard), and act respectfully (allow whiteness its organic domination), their lives (colonized oppression) would be better and productive (in relationship to 'universal' and always superior white standards).

Yeah right!

I do not know enough about ANTar to fully appreciate what they are seeking to achieve inside of colonized life in occupied Australia. My revolutionary fibre is not tuned into seeking accomodation and reconciliation inside of whiteness, so I am a little weary.

ANTar's assumption that Australia should be more like Canada and the US in posting health gains among 'its' original peoples strikes me as quite naive to say the least.

Still, their campaign is undeniably valuable to raise awareness of the causal link between racism and Aboriginal (and Torres Strait Islander peoples) health.

Thanks to the Angryindian for making me aware of the ANTaR campaign.



Eugene said...

I found this piece rather interesting. The health of indigenous folks has been seriously impeded all over the world through colonization and genocide.

Of course, this is constantly dismissed by the colonizers because that would mean they would have to take responsibility for their actions historical and current, and they don't want to. One of the main reasons is that they fear it may cut into their "ill gotten" gains.

The racism, as you point out, is dismissed as historical, as the fault of the indgenous, etc. This also includes the health problems exacerbated by the new society that has stolen almost everything from the indigenous folks and benefit greatly in the current scheme of things.

It's a never ending process of screwing the indigenous because the colonizers and descendants thereof illegally occupy their land and are responsible for the current state of indigenous health. Like I said previously, if they suddenly recognize their wrongs and the great privilege they have gained from their "illegal" actions, they would be hit in that privilege and their benefit. They don't want to give that up for no one and nobody and millions worldwide suffer because of this behavior.

It's all about to come down anyway.

Ridwan said...

Eugene thanks for your comment brother.

You are right that the connection between health and oppression will be downplayed, even ignored.

Whiteness is not prepared to take responsibility for racism or even to see the extent of its destruction.

I remember listening to you talk about genocide in PDX. What stuck to my bones was your comment that folks think that the genocide of the Indians is over.

When one looks at the health-oppression conditions on the rez your argument becomes even more powerful.

For this reason, I am a little annoyed that ANTaR argues that Australia should emulate the US and Canada in dealing with health issues among the Aboriginal communities.

Thanks for looking in brother.


Anonymous said...

I agree that racism makes me sick, very very sick. It does so almost on a daily basis.

The racist's bullet that shattered against my T12 vertebra also destroyed a section of my lung and diaphragm that has seen me in and out of hospital for three years now with lung aliments and chronic infections being the least of them. But, I'm told I'm "lucky" to be alive and walking. I could have been tortured, raped and burnt with a clothes iron and murdered like my mother was. I was "lucky" that the second bullet that skimmed my head spared me as they thought I was dead.

Ridwan said...

Anonymous I am so sorry to read of your ordeal and wish you only the best as you struggle to be healthy.

I will assume that you are SAfrican and white (please correct me if I am wrong).

Your experience is horrific and
no-one should diminish what you suffered through.

I certainly will not do so.

What I will say, with respect, is that all South Africans are terrorized by crime and violence without disctinction to class, gender, race, religion, age, or place.

Less than a month ago my childhood friend Bryan (see my selected posts in the sidebar) was brutally murdered in his home by robbers.

He was stabbed 12 times over hours of torture. They slit his throat before leaving.

Bryan was not white and neither is my father who was threatened by knife weilding thugs who then stole all his money.

I am not white and the men who carjacked me were all Black.

I can go on and on about the rainbow of crime that has reduced our country to nothing less than the most violent country outside of a war zone.

Still, I want to respect what you are saying about your experience and the murder of your mother (may she rest in peace).

We live in awful conditions in South Africa. To move forward we need decisive action and the kind that will bring a semblance of normality back to our lives.

I think it does not help anyone trying to deal with racism if we diminish what ANTar, for example, is saying here (and I am not pointing fingers at anyone).

Your experience is real and brutal, and I want to be alongside you in dealing honestly with the scourge of crime and violence in South Africa.

All life is equally important.
No-one among us is more important than anyone else, ever.

Thanks for commenting here. Please do come back when you can.

I sincerely wish you strength and peace.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your condolences and I'm truly sorry about Bryan.

It would be easier for me, and I guess your readers as well, to understand if I was white.

No Ridwan, I'm not white. The beasts kept reminding us of our race as they destroyed my family and I.

I use the term beast, as I have great difficulty in labelling them robbers, rapists, torturers, animals, "victims of povety" or whatever is more acceptable.

I'm told I must forgive and move on, "for my own good". I am too scared to do this as I see the beast staring back at me from every face in the street and it makes me physically sick.

Your blog is serving a good purpose, but you do us all a disfavour by jumping on every "there must be a white involved" when deep down in your heart you know where the real racism lies.

Ridwan said...

Anonymous thank you kindly for providing more details.

I totally understand your trauma and the devastation that has befallen you, your family, and loved ones.

This kind of brutality is totally unacceptable no matter who the victim may be.

I think if you read me a little closer here you will note that I am not looking to blame or victimize individual white people.

I understand the dynamics of racism which is very different than racial discrimination at the non-systmenic level.

I do not "know" that there is a "real" racism outside of the system that whiteness created i South Africa.

Here I refer to the institutions of racism: slavery, colonialism, apartheid, Aboriginal genocide, for example.

I am torn as I write to here. I can feel the pain in your words because I am reflective of what has happened to Bryan and his family.

I have spent some of my academic work dealing with confrontation and trauma, particularly that related to racism.

There are no easy answers.

What I do know, as confirmed by the small but growing body of literature, is that the past is never buried.

In this context, the issues of forgiveness and "moving on" is misplaced.

What I mean is that forgiving and reconciliation means very little when we are still so centered in the trauma.

Individuals, communities, and nations can't just forgive, reconcile, or "move on" ...

It is more complicated than that and you are testament to this truism.

There is need to make sense of the trauma. There can, therefore, be no moving forward without confronting the past.

What such a confrontation must look like is a complex issue.

Certainly more complex than 'finding whites, Blacks, Indians, and coloureds' as victims or perpetrators inside of any trauma.

I know that for a fact, and in these terms this blog and the people who look in here are not in the business of attacking whites over the "real racism" you refer to.

I believe that my purpose here and in my life is more principled and honest.

Still, I thank you for looking in here. You have a contribution to make and there are many many people who will want to hear you.

You have a valuable contibution to make.

Peace to you,

Ryder said...

"I do not "know" that there is a "real" racism outside of the system that whiteness created i South Africa."

Oh come on. That is so comfortable to be able to say that. Be honest with yourself if you don't have the balls to admit it here. I cringe at the way my brown brothers and sisters talk about blacks. It it venom of the worst kind. With all your academic grandeur that you spout, you cannot tell me that there is a white in sight when we lay into this verbal black bash. I hear it all around me. Your denial will sentence us to a slow slide into oblivion. You are inherently racist, but I guess you will blame a white or history for this. You forgot to add the Somalis to your list of genocide victims in South Africa. Or doesn't this fit your nice little racism story too well. You are a dying breed. The days of us wallowing in the coloured victim, white agressor, comfort zone are over. Get out there and earn the respect of the world. This is what your “brothers” are doing.

You embarrass me.

Ridwan said...

'Ryder' you are the only one to be embarassed here.

Nice one!

You caught me for a minute with your Anonymous post and your follow-up.

Damn, have you white bigots grown this desperate?

I guess so. The only dying breed here is you and your racist ilk.