Sunday, November 22, 2015

Expat Observations: Racism

Melton protest. Photo by Chris Hopkins
Today saw another wave of anti-Islamic rallies around the country by the right-wing group Reclaim Australia. Thankfully they were countered by anti-racism protesters, but these nationalistic movements are nothing new. Recent examples include Pauline Hanson and the One Nation Party, and the 2005 Cronulla riots in Sydney, where the Australian flag became a symbol of hate.

There is a casual racism that still pervades Australian society, which isn't that much of a surprise when you consider White Australia policy existed until 1975. Each new wave of refugees and migrants faces discrimination (particularly those that are non-white). In addition, Indigenous Australians continue to face institutionalised racism, with the closure of remote communities in WA just the latest injustice.

One glaring example of racism that played out this year was the treatment of AFL footballer Adam Goodes. The two-time Brownlow medallist, dual Premiership player with the Sydney Swans, and 2014 Australian of the Year was continuously booed during games this season just because he dared to show pride in his culture by doing a war dance after a goal during the Indigenous Round (!). The racial vilification got so bad after a game in Perth that he decided not to play the following week, and was ready to never play again. What made him return was a huge campaign of support for him by the public and players in that next round. Adam Goodes retired at the end of the season, but still continues to face racist comments, with the latest incident being when he was named a brand ambassador for the department store David Jones. Once again people stood with Adam, but the fact this keeps happening demonstrates the overt racism that persists in Australia.

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