Tag Archives: solution

Racism: the taboo topic oft misunderstood

The Sydney Morning Herald recently published an article about 7-Eleven workers of Indian descent continuing to being exploited, despite the outcry back when the exploitation was originally exposed in September 2015.

These immigrant workers were being paid as little as $16 to $0.43 per hour, and well below the minimum rate.

You have to congratulate the Australian Press for not discussing the broader issue at hand i.e. racism.

Why is racism such a taboo topic to us? Australia is still marred by its own history, the period of colonisation and assimilation, which upended the First Australians and many migrants.

Much has been said and talked about the past, including former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd saying “Sorry” to the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal people.  However, there is a sense of hubris here in the analogy here that once an apology to Aboriginal people, forever no more racism in Australia altogether.

The reality is very different!

Today the country now has over 40 different ethnic racial groups living inside our borders and roughly 1 in 5 Australians have experienced racism in their lives.

Enter Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister who claims to be right-progressive.  For the incumbent PM I have one of my own policies: vouch for a multicultural (and intercultural) Australia.

Alongside the $1bn Innovation boom and the $1bn Clean Energy Innovation Fund, put aside some money to a government initiative: Cultural Diversity Future Fund.

The aforementioned Cultural Diversity Future Fund will be two-pronged: Firstly research into contemporary ethnic and racial issues for 22nd century Australia.  And secondly, commercialising these ideas through the creation of a multicultural, intercultural Australia, which defines people based on talent, or contribution to the economy, instead of ethnicity.

A culturally diverse 22nd century Australia.

Also read: All Together Now’s Anti racism projects

Australia, still in denial?

Australia’s acknowledgement of racism has grown considerably, since Adam Goodes was Australian of the Year (2014). This could be largely due to the fact that his cause was anti-racism. The Racism. It Stops With Me. campaign was launched soon after. Over 250 organisations joined the anti-racism campaign, which promoted racial equality (including All Together Now). It seemed that Australia was finally ready to kick racism out of the country once and for all.  However, it seemed in 2015, Australia once again took a step back as it questioned incidents of racism as actually being racist or not. The questioning of an incident being racist or not was seen most prominently during the booing bullying of AFL player Adam Goodes. People in the media questioned the validity of the incessant and constant targeted bullying, of this particular player, as being racist or not. It was undoubtedly fueled by racism, as the ‘issue’ that had people begin the booing of Goodes occurred after he displayed (during the Indigenous Round of AFL) an Indigenous symbol to the crowd as a victory showcase after scoring a goal. Idiotic though it may seem, racism is often just so.

We’d like to take the time to add to the discussion on Goodes, that being ‘politically correct’ is giving respect. It is the correct way to act. Denying respect includes denying racism. Or, as Marlon James put it, “most of us are non-racists” and are content to be so: “I won’t, I don’t, I’ve never” are not statements that change those individuals, groups or institutions that are prejudice, bigoted and racist. This ‘non-racism’ occurs when you know something is racist but by doing nothing it does not stop it from occurring. The question the comes to: How do we make active people trying to end racism?

We make active people trying to end racism by giving them knowledge of how it acts, interacts and attacks society and individuals ability to succeed, be unified and progress.

Non-racism along with racism denial are two important factors in the continuing of racism in Australia and internationally. So, here is a reminder of what racism denial looks like:

 

Racism Denial 2016 (Conflict Copy) (1)

Interview with L-Fresh the Lion

All Together Now was lucky enough to catch up with one of our ambassadors, L-Fresh the Lion, who has been a trailblazer for social justice in the hip-hop music scene. Natalia spoke to L-Fresh not only about how he got into the hip-hop industry in the first place, but how he embraced his culture as a practicing Sikh into his music, and what his thoughts were on diversity in the entertainment industry in Australia.

 

TRANSCRIPT:

All Together Now: How do you express your cultural and ethnic identity through hip-hop? Do you think that music and hip-hop, particularly, is a universal platform that may be understood by everyone regardless of their cultural background or religion?

L-Fresh the Lion: Hip-hop music and hip-hop culture in general, I think, is one of those beautiful things which goes beyond the barriers of race, class, gender, politics and any type of inequality, and becomes a force that brings people together in a positive way. In terms of my cultural identity, I think that this is an inevitable part of me that comes across everything that I do without having me to think about it. This is so much a part of who I am from the formation of my values to more notably in my appearance as I am a practicing Sikh. So, you know, culture is there in everything that I do.

All Together Now: Are you keen to express your views on racism in your lyrics? What motivates you to speak up?

L-Fresh the Lion: I’ve been thinking about it since the first time I wrote my lyrics, when I was a 14-years-old teenager in high school. The first thing I ever wrote was called ‘World of Discrimination’, talking about my experience with racism. So, it started from the very beginning. I think it was one of the core things that brought me to a space where I felt like I needed to write music. Again, it’s one of those things that influenced me in that I was raised by my parents and by those around me to be a vocal and active member of society, to be someone who is interested in not only uplifting those around me in the community, but also to be a positive force in a world. I feel that it’s my duty to use this platform, to be able to develop life through the music, and positively contribute to the world around me. Moreover, one of those things that I am obviously talking about is my experience with racism. And I think it is still here, because this is a very prominent issue in our society today.

All Together Now: Why did you join All Together Now? What led you here?

L-Fresh the Lion: All Together Now is the only organization existing in a 24/7 basis in Australia, which calls to address racism in a positive way. One of the important things I’ve seen All Together Now do is work with young people, while taking innovative approach to tackling racism. All Together Now makes people feel like they are active participants in creating a better society. That was important for me not only personally, but also because regardless of what I was doing, or speaking about, I was always trying to find a way to address this problem. When I found All Together Now operating in that space and I heard about their projects, I wanted to be involved and be able to help them and to make contributions.

All Together Now: How much is the spirit of multiculturalism felt in the underground hip-hop community? Is this community open to everyone who is willing to join it?

L-Fresh the Lion: Hip-hop since its inception is in America, but also in Australia has been very multicultural. Some of the first people who operated in the space of hip-hop in Australia came from all worlds of life. From the perspective of the present, contemporary hip-hop is on the level where you have people from diverse backgrounds, operating in this space. This is because, like I mentioned earlier, hip-hop erases all those barriers that tend to differentiate us as human beings. So, it’s a very multicultural space that often doesn’t get reflected in mainstream media. That’s because we have issues in the entertainment industry as a whole, which haven’t been spoken about quite extensively. Most recently it was discussed, I think on Sunrise, there was debate about the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry and, more specifically, on TV. Lack of diversity is something that is prevalent in all entertainment industries in Australia. But the roots of this problem are on a community level. That is what people don’t see unless they are active participants in hip-hop. Hip-hop is very, very diverse.

LFresh_tweet

All Together Now: Do you have a big dream? What is that?

L-Fresh the Lion: Wow (laughing), I have lots of dreams. I suppose, it depends on context, you know, because I have dreams in a variety of different aspects in my life. If we are talk about dreams on my personal level, I have dreams in terms of what family I would like to build, or dreams about music. But I also have dreams about what I would like to see in politics, or what I would like to see in the world. I think, those things are important, and I want to share these dreams with people. I would like to see a country that could be an example of a space of values. I’d love to see the dominant culture in Australia becomes one of welcome, one of love and compassion, and one of valuing all human lives equally, and not some more than others.

I would like to see these dreams not just be reflected on a theoretical level, but enforced on a practical level. To ensure that inequality is addressed, we firstly have to begin with the inequality gap between Indigenous Australians and the rest of the community, as well as looking at the gender inequality between Australian men and women. The discussion of inequality is also raised when we are talking about the way we treat asylum seekers and refugees, and migrants in general in the context of race. I think these are all things that come down to the culture we live in, especially when we don’t have a dominant culture that consists of positive values. I would like to see Australia leading in that space of positive values. It is a dream that I have to speak out about, because Australia could be a leading example of positive racial culture and show this to the rest of the world, so that they can follow.

All Together Now: What do you consider makes a person a ‘Real Australian’?

L-Fresh the Lion: I think the answer to this question is something that I have been looking for my whole life. Been born in Australia, in South-West Sydney, and growing up here for a long period of time, and even to this day at some point, I’ve been made to question myself. People have questioned how Australian I am, because I don’t look like what people would consider an average Australian to look like. I look culturally different. So, I’ve been looking for that answer for a long, long time, because at what point can we collectively determine who is and who isn’t an Australian?

You know, I think, that the answer is obvious when you ask does the person have an Australian passport, or is that person an Australian citizen. But when you enter the term ‘Real Australian’ that makes things much, much more complicated. ‘Real’ becomes a question mark. How can we determine it? I think some important questions come with this word and we need to think about it. I don’t think that I have as an individual the sole power to determine who is or who isn’t a ‘Real Australian’. And I think that it’s a collective conversation that needs to be held one day so that Australia can have a discussion on race from a power and structural frame of mind.

Courtesy of Michelle Grace Hunder

Courtesy of Michelle Grace Hunder

 

Find out more about L-Fresh the Lion here.

L-Fresh the Lion was also featured on Pro Bono here.

Summary of ATN x Churchill Fellowship

This year, Priscilla Brice, receiver of the 2013 Churchill Fellowship and Managing Director of All Together Now, researched the factors which make non-profit racism prevention initiatives effective in Poland, Belgium, France, UK, and USA.

One of the most notable findings was the extent to which the socio-political will to address racism in a country affects the success of antiracism activities in that country. Socio-political will impacts on the number and type of funding options available, the types of actions that not-for-profit organisations choose to take, and the way in which the media reports on racism and its manifestations.

There are some very effective initiatives and common tactics to be found on both sides of the North Atlantic that Australia can learn from. Of highest importance is having a sustained and long-term commitment to achieving racial equality by working in cross-sector partnerships to create practical solutions that are evidence-based.

The full report on her findings can be download from the Churchill Fellowship website.
Screenshot 2014-11-06 08.42.10


Creative Commons License
Churchill Fellowship is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It is based on the report: Brice, P. 2014, A study into the factors which make non-profit racism prevention initiatives effective, 2013 Churchill Report, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Canberra.

You are welcome to download (PDF) and print this infographic providing you observe this license.

All Together Now is a not-for-profit organisation. If you have found this infographic useful, please make a donation of $25 to help us continue to create more like this one.

Racism: it’s all about you and me.

Racism. Difficult to escape this term as it’s been hitting the headlines a lot recently. Is this a sign there is an increase in racist behaviours or racial abuse? That our society has converted to bigotry and stereotypes? How do we deal with racism in general? And you, where do you stand about racism in your life?

While most of us can understand and recognise obvious sign of racism, most of the time it goes unnoticed: racism can be so infused in our everyday life that we fail to identify it.

three-parramatta-men

But what is racism exactly? Racism is the belief that some races are superior or inferior to others. It is expressed through attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, norms and practices and may be either intentional or unintentional.

The recent Adam Goodes affair shows that racism is more than an ugly word. It does have consequences, such as psychological pain, health problems and economic loss for the whole country; it takes courage, responsibility and respect to tackle it.

Racism is everyone’s problem. Not just the government’s problem, nor just the schools or the parents. All Together Now, the only national charity dedicated to tackling racism, recently ran a year-long project in Parramatta and asked people, “who is responsible for doing something about racism?

There were as many answers as interviewees. We concluded that all of us have a role to play in the fight against racism. Because it is not about them and us. It’s about you and I.
It can happen anywhere, not only in sport or public transport or in the media.

Young people are not spared. The 2009 Foundation For Young Australians survey examined youth experiences of racism. 70% of high school students experienced at least one form of racism, with those from migrant backgrounds experiencing the highest levels. The consequences are real, from feeling angry and frustrated, to not feeling like you belong to the local community, to isolation and sadness, to engaging in unhealthy activities like smoking, alcohol and drug use.

Racism can take many forms, including:

  • Casual racism: it’s not that you really hate people of another colour, but a good joke is harmless, right? Wrong. “Racist jokes aren’t about humour, they make the person targeted feel less than human”, ABC’s Andrea Ho said.
  • Overt racism: it’s what happens when people yell racial abuse at someone else in the bus. All Together Now created a great tool to help people deal with racist events in public transport.
  •  Systemic racism or institutional racism: it happens when an organisation (or its policies) maintains an environment that is unfair, Professor Houston explained. In schools, this can be treating minority students as if they are representative of stereotypes held about their racial/ethnic or cultural groups, or having lower expectations of minority students’ academic abilities.

The commonality among all these forms of racism is to destroy our connections as human beings living together in the same country. Is there really more racial abuse, racist behaviours and bigotry in our Lucky Country? Or is it mostly sensationalism fuelled by the media and commentators?

There is no single answer. But while it is true that Australia has come a long way since the 1967 referendum that recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as citizens, there is no cause to say that “racism isn’t a big deal”; it is pointless to keep commenting on whether or not Australians are racist. It’s time to acknowledge that – as quoted in Charlie Pickering’s own words

“as a nation we believe that race should not determine your place, your prospects or your standing in society.”

Unless we do this, it is no wonder that a 13-year old uses racist slurs without fully understanding them; no wonder that an experienced journalist “loses the control of his tongue” and says something unacceptable; that young people having experienced racist comments admit “I have been guilty of racist thoughts and speech myself”, as expressed by Benjamin Law.

Our society is not only shaped by the media, but also by our debates and young people have an important role to play. We all have the means to reduce racism.

The first step is to acknowledge it, to say something, to take a stand against racism. When we start taking action, we will be able to change our country for the better. And stop talking about “them”, or “the others”, but embracing the diversity of our rich culture.

A version of this article was first published on Vibewire on 12 June 2013.