The Black Caucus was represented at ‘Light supper with Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Robin Scott MP’ in Tarneit.
The audience was made up almost entirely of West Africans and Indians, both young and old, all migrants to Australia and potentially, all allies as people of colour (POCs) in the battle for equal recognition in a white dominated black country.
However, towards the end of the evening, an Indian community member was suggesting to the minister that education on obeying law and order should be mandatory to migrants in order to curtail a perceived rise in violence. The implication was that perpetrators of these crimes and the recipients of these lessons would be the African communities.
“These people need to be taught that violence is not acceptable in this country. They come over here and do not know how to behave.”
His comments suggested that African families allowed their children to run wild, without any understanding of the rule of law or discipline of any kind. His suggestion was that suddenly they get to Australia and do not know how to behave in polite society, despite being at the cradle of civilisation.
These comments were despite the fact that he was so obviously a migrant himself, and the implication that all of the crime was being carried out by the migrants from African countries, despite the evidence to the contrary provided by local and national police chiefs.
The minister made every effort to correct the man’s perceptions by stating that violence is unacceptable in any community and that teaching this to all children in schools would be a more appropriate solution to the overall general violence perpetrated upon society.
He was sat next to a Victorian Multicultural Commission Regional Advisory Member, who had previously voiced views that welfare should taken away from the black community as a whole, if members are found to commit crimes. In her eyes, everyone suffers for one person’s misdeeds.
As the evening drew to a close the minister’s aide asked for all those who were in the room to huddle around the minister for one collective photo. The Africans did as requested and the pictures were taken, however the Indians stood back, not wanting to associate, let alone be seen in a picture with the Africans. The minister was then whisked away, leaving the Indians angry and disappointed that they could not get their ‘Indians only’ picture.
The event was catered, and the room segregated once again with the Indians standing in one part of the room, and the Africans in another, seemingly nobody from either group wishing to discuss the issues that affect their communities and discuss the solutions collectively.
I wonder what it is that would put the Indian community at such odds with the Africans. Was it that the Indians felt themselves better educated than the Africans? Or was it the prominence of their caste system, so engrained in their culture, that they instinctively see Blacks as inferior? I think that there may be more to it, that in a society where recent migrants like Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis and Africans are struggling, there is the potential to demonise the Africans in a way of ingratiating themselves with their white hosts. By creating a Black common enemy, the focus is no longer on them and they can prosper.
However, this is not the only community of colour swiping at the Africans.
Contacts in the Victorian Police have also noted an increase in friction between the Chinese/Asian community and the Blacks, not just Africans, but Aboriginal and Caribbean.
Reports of shop keepers shouting at Blacks, following them around shops and demanding money before service in circumstances where this is not the norm.
We have also received reports of increased passive aggressive behaviour, such as a deliberately not giving way on pavements even though they clearly see us approaching, preferring instead to charge into oncoming Blacks, a tactic seemingly not experienced by our white counterparts. This seems to be a minor aggression, until you find yourself constantly responsible for avoiding collisions on the street, and continually stepping into the road, whilst being gazed upon as a second class citizen.
I cannot deduce why this open disrespect is taking place, and I have researched Chinese culture specifically regarding this matter for quite some time for this article, still with no academic conclusion.
In the UK from the 40’s through to the 80’s, minority groups invited by the British government from British colonies to rebuild Britain after the war, were racially abused by the white British public, and harassed by the white police. At that time PoC communities united together to stand against racist policies that kept them in poor housing and menial jobs. This united front worked, and white British attitudes were slowly forced to change, moving a few steps closer to equal rights for all Britons.
I have seen PoC unity work, and lived this experience in the UK, which is why I was surprised to not see this same unity amongst the PoCs in Australia. Ethnic communities in Australia fall, as nothing more than divided minority groups, lacking the strength of numbers to directly impact policies and legislation. We are easy pickings for politicians, the media and white nationalists. While PoCs bicker amongst ourselves, white Australia simply sits back and waits for a weakened victor, one that they can then pacify and ignore.
Over recent years, it is generally accepted by law enforcement around the world that tackling the root of the problem vastly reduces crime, rather than incarceration.
In America, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton have gone on record to say that their policies of funding prisons to focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation were wrong. Obama has repeatedly espoused the virtues of fixing the employment and housing issues in America as the priority to lift the economic status of the poor, and reduce crime.
Social policing programmes have been instigated in the toughest parts of Glasgow and London, to better understand the lower socio-economic communities, and in each case these front liners have reported to government that raising the poor from poverty would stop economic crime.
In Australia, economic crime has been carried out by generations of migrants. Irish, Italians, Greeks, and Polish were organised but less subtle in the execution of crime, whereas the Chinese and Vietnamese have been more sophisticated, thus drawing less attention from the Police.
Europeans, Asians, Arabics alike have all been on the bottom of the economic ladder so why are Africans being treated differently? Is it because they stand out more than previous migrants? Is it because they are perceived as more physically threatening than those whom have come before?
The fact of the matter is that Africans, and by association, all Blacks in Australia are under attack from the media trying to sell bad news, politicians trying to rule through fear, and white Australia still wrestling with its genocidal past. Unfortunately where they expected to find allies, they have instead found disrespect and isolation. If you back anyone into a social and economic corner, and isolate them because of the selfish motives of a rising migrant middle class, what outcome would you expect? The fear is that the frustrations of the Africans will boil over into violence. Why would you not try to remove the fuel of social, political and economic injustice that stoke the fire, rather that fan the flames with the hot air of media and political sensationalism, and pour on the gasoline exclusion from other communities of colour?
There is a storm coming. Do we all act together to dissipate the problem? Or do we all stand around blaming each other and wait for the inevitable devastation? How will you account for your words, your actions?
There is a storm coming, soon.