I watched a fascinating show on SBS last night about racism and its roots in the brain. I learned more than I expected to really, because I do read a fair bit of the latest research. The program reminded me of the stark realities behind racism and the obvious frustrations that it causes.
Chief among my learnings was, it is pretty easy to demonize anyone for holding racist views and lock them away in a class called idiots, fools, ignorant, uneducated etc etc, but does that help?
Once we lock them away in that group, we deny them the opportunity to change their mind. While I realise that may of them may take the stance “dont try to persuade me with facts, my mind is made up” by not providing people with the opportunity to mix with people from other races and ethnicities, the education process will never happen.
On the flip side of that, supporting enclaves is counter productive to the education process too as it lessens the interaction possibilities and only further alienates people into their own small groups. Who would have guessed that the old 1960s process of finding out that the greek guy down the road selling your fish and chips is actually a good bloke and his kids that all go to the same school as your kids, are lovely, I mean, what are the odds right? The old integration method is a pretty good way of breaking down racism.
That is not to say it is the smoothest way, and it really needs to be part of a well-considered and well supported strategy of nation building.
I am still staggered when I hear the argument that white people didn’t invade this country. Clearly they did. The argument, “I was born here, if you weren’t, you don’t belong”, is pretty weird too as we had people of Chinese heritage in this country, going back to the early 1800’s so they could easily be 8th generation Australians. Having said that, your country of birth doesn’t really mean much does it? My bride was born in Malta, but that doesn’t make her Maltese, her Australian parents just happened to be passing through.
Australia was one of the last places on earth to support slavery in the way of Blackbirding, and then we had the outrageous White Australia Policy which was just juvenile thinking in a land like this. So we have long been a hotbed for racism often supported by legislation of one kind or another, so we should never be surprised when it raises its ugly head.
Uncomfortable as it may be for some people to accept, the only people with an unfettered line of ownership are the native Australians by virtue of about 40,000 years or so, but even then I guess you could argue they were migrants once too. The SBS program was a stark reminder to me, to stop labelling people with racist views and internally belittling them, and instead try to provide them with opportunities to learn. It was also a good reminder of the importance of scientists in this modern world. We need people to be doing good research to help us all move forward. Thanks SBS good work.