Spectres of colonialism: Citizenship and freedom in the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean

The Black Caucus in conjunction with the Community Identity Displacement research network is proud to present one in a series of CIDRN seminars and public lectures on the City Flinders campus of Victoria University.

The event is to be held on the 6th of May at the City Flinders campus, room FS 1105.

The speaker is Dr. Aaron Kamugisha from University of the West Indies, Barbados on the subject of ‘Spectres of colonialism: Citizenship and freedom in the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean’

His extract reads as follows:

“Any attempt to account for the banality of significant features of life in the Anglophone Caribbean postcolony and to understand the despair of those who reflect seriously on the contemporary moment requires interventions at several different levels. This paper proceeds on that basis, and attempts a philosophical critique of many aspects of life in the Caribbean, the common theme to all being the persistent denial of full citizenship to many persons within the nation-state. I use the term the “coloniality of citizenship” to describe this complex amalgam of elite domination, neoliberalism and the legacy of colonial authoritarianism which I suggest lies at the heart of the colonial state. This work situates itself within a long tradition of critique of the Caribbean post-colonial state, and aims to continue the long process of uncovering what Kamau Brathwaite has called the “inner plantation,” or rather, coloniality’s persistence in the contemporary Caribbean.”

Aaron Kamugisha is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. His current work is a study of coloniality, cultural citizenship and freedom in the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean, mediated through the social and political thought of C.L.R. James and Sylvia Wynter. He is the editor of Caribbean Political Thought: The Colonial State to Caribbean Internationalisms, Caribbean Political Thought: Theories of the Post-Colonial State and Caribbean Cultural Thought: From Plantation to Diaspora.


The Black Caucus invites all members, readers and followers to this event and eagerly awaits discussing views on this and other subjects with both Black Caucus and VU audiences.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Adding Pimento: Caribbean Migration To Victoria, Australia

This week the West Indian community in Victoria welcomed a book which tells their story of migration to Australia for the first time.

‘Adding Pimento’ is a book that has been in the making since 2006, when the Caribbean community in Victoria in conjunction with the Caribbean Association of Victoria, created an exhibition at the Immigration Museum called Callaloo: The Caribbean mix in Victoria.


This exhibition told the story of those with a West Indian background and their migration to Australia, both directly and indirectly from the Caribbean.

When the exhibition came to a close, it became obvious to the community that there were more stories to be told and, spearheaded by Dr Karina Smith of Victoria University, the work began to collect, collate and transcribe more stories from the Caribbean community.

Almost eight years in the making, the book is now available for all to enjoy.

The journeys to Australia are not only unique, but the motivations, inspirations and struggles behind the community stories are as individual as the faces that now add further contrast to the Australian populace.

The stories are joyous and warming, heartbreaking and inspiring.

The stories tell of how those who identify as West Indians have established themselves against all odds, in a land that some say even now, still echo the repercussions of an all white Australian policy.

‘Adding Pimento’ is a book written by the West Indian community, for a broader understanding, and will become a historic document of the migration of West Indians to Australia.

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Our self destructive obsession with having light skin

It is an unfortunate reality that engrained deep into the black psychology is the belief that light skinned blacks are somehow superior than their darker skinned equals.

This belief stems all the way back to slavery, where the white slave owners would have illegitimate children, born from and of their black slaves.

These illegitimate children were often publicly denied by the slave owner parents but given special ‘jobs of privilege’ around the slave owner mansion. These privileges were jobs such as chamber maid, or other tasks that gave them indoor privileges.

These illegitimate children considered themselves to be better than their other slave counterparts, often romanticising the horrific circumstances around their conception.

Such was the delusion of the black slaves at the time, that some parents would offer up their children to be defiled by the slave owners in order to achieve favour on the plantation.

Slavery, in that form, is no longer prevalent in the West Indies and Africa, yet the misguided belief that a lighter skin will make you more successful or desirable lingers.

Black people, Indians, Pakistanis, and Asians throughout the world flock to shops and salons to have bleaching cream applied to their skin in order to make them lighter.




These bleaching creams are readily and openly advertised in magazines, newspapers and in television commercials, teaching all generations, and the generations to follow, that it is desirable to have light skin.

Of course, Michael Jackson is the most obvious example of this self loathing, but there are other prominent people in the media who have also fallen victim to this form of self hatred.

There is a common diagnosis that this is ‘Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder’, however in labelling it as such, we take away the responsibility of the individual to rectify their thinking and realign their attitudes towards all members of their race.

This attitude of superiority is not just that of the light skinned, but is also subconsciously, and sometimes consciously, perpetuated by their darker skinned counterparts.

There is an implied privilege and superiority amongst some light skinned blacks that has been inferred by their darker counterparts to this day.

In recent Australian history, black aboriginal children were stolen from their parents. Lighter skinned aboriginals children were taken as the most desirable to the white settler families, and advertised in newspapers for white only adoptions.

The Australian government was not only trying to ‘breed the black’ out of the Aboriginals, but there actions were tantamount to genocide upon the Aboriginal race.

Other non white communities have in the past, and are currently voluntarily adopting, at least in part, the ideology of the Australian government policy against a black race.

The light skinned blacks worldwide still have privilege unduly heaped upon them as they were heaped upon their forbears.

Even now in the West Indies light skinned people get promoted to positions of seniority faster than their darker counterparts. Lighter skinned people are employed in preference to darker skinned people, and tend to get the better jobs. Lighter skinned people are considered more trustworthy, approachable, desirable than the darker skinned. Young men are still encouraged to bring home the light skinned girls while young women are warned off the “no good” dark skinned men.

The irony is that no matter how light that these light skinned people get, they are never seen as white by their white counterparts; only the black community accept them for who they are.

In Barbados, as in other black countries where whites are a small minority, enclaves of white communities huddle to themselves, managing to remain “genetically pure” for generations, actively protecting the genetic heritage of their slave owner past.

Black Caucus representatives have seen three generations of women in a supermarket in Barbados, clearly born and bred on the island, each generation managing to remain ‘blond haired and blue eyed’, despite being in a 1% minority on the island.

Black Caucus representatives have seen a massive family gatherings of ‘blue eyed’ Bajans sitting around a table in a restaurant. The gathering spanned several generations, yet there was not one black face among them. No husband or wife who had married into the family, no daughter or son of mixed race. It was amazing that this was possible when the local white community in Barbados made up such a small percentage of the population. With whom were these people breeding?

In an attempt by black people to obtain light skin they either, go to salons and have bleaching creams applied, or they buy the creams and lotions and apply it themselves.

The people who use these creams use words like “freshening their skin” or “cleaning their skin”. This practice is not limited to one gender.

What happens when two people who use skin whiteners reproduce and their offspring is a combination of the true colour of the parents? Do they start applying skin whitening creams to the child? At what age would they allow their offspring to start using these creams? Is it then the responsibility of those parents to teach the child to be happy with their own skin colour, or will they impose their own misguided values on their child?

Some of the chemicals that are prevalent in the creams have been linked to kidney failure and in some cases cancer, yet these creams readily adorn the pages of black magazines like Ebony and Essence.

Changing our own preconceptions of beauty and success is important to our healing process as a people.

It is important for our generation, and the next generation of blacks, to change our ideas, to turn away from the outdated trappings of privilege, wealth and beauty.

We must shake off the old perceptions of our parents and embrace the diversity that exists in our ‘every shade of black’ community.

We must learn to love the skin we are in

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Our right to privacy

Recently we were informed that the larger telecommunication companies were at a summit in the UK. We were told that the summit was to find a way of stopping the download of illegal activity on the internet by making your internet provider responsible for your downloads.

We stated that we were against the idea of ISPs monitoring my internet activity but that it was easy enough for them to do, as they own the infrastructure that we are using to access the internet, they have to monitor the service in order to maintain and regulate it, and we have a contract with the ISP. Our stronger objection was with the government and law enforcement having an open invitation to also monitor my internet activity. We have no contract with them and we do not give them permission to invade my privacy.

“But what about the spread of child pornography?” was the argument. “You obviously do not care about the children. I am prepared to give up my rights in order to protect the children.”

A statement like that is an obvious, emotive argument that does not take into consideration the medium and long term ramifications of handing over the rights to your privacy.

That argument is not a quick fix as it does not stop paedophiles, who use much more sophisticated methods than typing ‘child porn’ into Google.

The spread of child porn on the internet is a very serious matter and a serious solution must be found. We do not claim to have that solution, but we know that forcing everyone to give up their right to privacy in order to catch the less than 3% of the global population who have been caught with online child pornography is not the answer.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (2005) Personal Safety Survey, of all those who reported having been victimised sexually before the age of 15 years, 11.1 percent were victimised by a stranger. More commonly, child sexual abuse was perpetrated by a male relative (other than the victim’s father or stepfather; 30.2%), a family friend (16.3%), an acquaintance or neighbour (15.6%), another known person (15.3%), or the father or stepfather (13.5%). It should be noted that these totals add to more than 100 percent (103.7%); this indicates that a small proportion of child sexual abuse victims (3.7%) were abused by perpetrators belonging to more than one category.

Source: http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/421-440/tandi429.html

Does this mean that males should never be left alone with children by law and be chaperoned by another adult with children at all times? Or is this a step too far, requiring a more refined approach to a very serious problem?

A long lasting solution needs to be more sophisticated. Governments, law enforcement and ISPs need to find a solution that targets the individual and not the masses.

They must find a solution that is the equivalent to a scalpel, and not a blunderbuss firing buckshot into innocent bystanders.

“But you should not mind being monitored, if you have nothing to hide”, came their response. The solution has to be far more complex.

Just because we have nothing to hide, does not mean that we want to give up our right to privacy.

For obvious historic reasons, Jewish communities in the UK have a strong aversion to governments that require intrusive and overt surveillance of the population. Large swathes of their communities value their right to privacy, a lesson learned from their bitter past.

One of our members went to buy a ‘pay as you go’ mobile phone sim card phone in Melbourne. He was asked to show them 90 points of identification, the same that would be required for an official government or financial undertaking. They scanned the picture part of his passport and sent off the details to their clearing company. After a few minutes, the clearing company came back to the shop with the message that there was no Australian visa associated with the passport that he had submitted. Apart from the fact that this was true as he had newer passport, how did they know this information?

He was applying for a mobile phone, not applying for a job. How were they able to access government records in order to establish my legal status in the country?

What right does the Australian government have to sell our information like that?

Surely our passport information should be confidential, but clearly it is not.

We are able to buy a house, a car, and obtain a job without anyone checking a visa, yet a commercial telephone company was able to check a visa status.

We object to our privacy being so blatantly violated for a commercial convenience.

There was a move in the UK a while ago to bring in identification cards, and to force everyone to carry them about their person at all times. In Australia, they do not have national identification cards, but everywhere you go people ask to see your driver’s licence as a primary form of identification.

What if you do not drive? I hear you ask. Then the police can issue you with a voluntary identification card, or you have to carry your passport and two utility bills around with you.

Some of our membership grew up as black males in a London that was still learning to see them as English, they were constantly stopped and harassed by the police. It was important for them to know and understand their rights.

The police could not ask you to turn out your pockets and then use the argument that “you should agree if you have nothing to hide”.

Shop keepers could not ask to see inside your bags (that is a bag that your own and not one that the shop has given you to carry your goods) just because you fit a profile of people that they believe steal.

If you let them look in your bag, “if you have nothing to hide”, why stop there? Whey not let them reach into your pockets and pat you down? After all, you have nothing to hide.

Black Britons, and that generation of non-whites in England, have fought too long and too hard to have our rights recognised, and we are not about to give them up on the back of some popularist, ill-conceived shock-jock soundbyte.

The same applies to the internet. Just because we have nothing to hide, it does not mean that we actively wish to give up our civil liberties. It does not mean that we want to be constantly monitored. It does not mean that we wish to be under constant surveillance and censorship.

There are always well meaning reasons for people to be coerced into giving up their basic civil liberties, but most of these mask the fact that they are substitutes for intelligent police work, or proper investigations that may be more costly and require more resources.

Crime of every description on the internet is a new frontier for the police of every nation. The law always appears to be one step behind the criminals, and the criminals have better resources.

However, this does not mean that we must “throw the baby out with the bath water”. We must not throw away the rights that we have fought so long and hard to obtain and preserve, under pressure from a government leading by fear.

It is important that we are able to have an academic debate about protecting the erosion of our civil liberties in modern society, rather than trying to win an argument from an entrenched position.

It is not only the responsibility of governments to think about solutions to 21st century problems. Collaborative thought is the only way that we will collectively find a solution to these very serious problems.

Maybe together we can assist in finding a refined and tailored solution to this difficult problem, rather than allowing governments and law enforcement with secondary agendas to implement blanket laws that dictate our fate.

The issue of privacy has been on our minds recently as the Australian government seeks to encroach on of privacy even further, by making the telecommunications companies responsible for storing our personal data for up to two years.

The government are seeking these powers under the guise that the are a handful of military trained fighters in Syria that are heading back to Australian shores and the government and law enforcement wish to keep tabs on them.

So in the eyes of some, all Australian citizens are expected to hand over even more of our civil liberties simply because it is considered by a few to be the easiest solution.

Instead let us invest more funds and resources into law enforcement.

Let us invest resources into establishing a truly credible secret service that does not rely upon hit and miss tactics, but instead uses sophisticated intelligence gathering strategies to identify, seek out and monitor credible threats, not the entire nation.

“The needs of the many, far outweigh the needs of the few”, and the many do not wish for our rights to be eroded further.

Twice a year, the Australian secret service ASIO goes to the government and ask for ever increasing powers to spy upon the citizens of Australia, not just criminals and those under suspicion, but all Australians, because to ASIO all Australians are under suspicion.

However while ASIO are happy to infringe on our privacy and civil rights, they themselves seek to have their own privacy reinforced by proposing new laws that will jail journalists for revealing ASIO secrets.


Let us not forget that while a few journalists can provide us with mindless entertainment, the majority have integrity and are professionals. These hard working women and men seek out the truths that lurk in dark corners and uncover everything from criminal scams to government conspiracies. These rights, for our own sakes, must be protected.

However governments are not the only organisations that cover their own privacy while selling ours to the highest bidder.

It was revealed in a recent wiki that Google chairman Eric Schmidt does not believe individuals have privacy rights to protect our own data.

In what can only be described as a hypocritical move, he would fight for the right for Google to protect their private information on ‘competitive’ grounds, however individuals are not afforded that same right.

Individuals also have secrets that they do not want publicly revealed.

To those that use the ‘nothing to hide’ argument, we would ask “What do you not want the world, or even specific individuals to know?” Any individual, just like a corporation, can have secrets they do not want revealed in order to maintain or create a competitive advantage over others in a competitive labour market or to keep their self respect, or to maintain their standing in the community. To Schmidt, corporations are allowed this right but not individuals.

In another twist Schmidt did not have a favourable reaction to CNET publishing of his personal data.

As stated earlier in this article, the UK government have used emergency powers to push through draconian data surveillance laws where governments and law enforcement can monitor the data of civilians. The powers used to implement these laws are only supposed to be used in a time of ‘actual’ war, where the enemy is at the gate.


These laws are being forced upon the British people with no debate and with no consultation, laws that instead of being extended should now be repealed.

Australia is following blindly into the constitutional mind field, where ASIO are seeking powers to increase surveillance on the people when the country is not at war.

However the Australian government want to protect privacy on certain things

In recent move, parliament took steps to protect against the invasion of privacy by drones.


However what appears to be a noble act, is in fact a push from commercial business like ‘free range’ livestock suppliers, who are constantly plagued by animal protection activists.

Activists regularly survey the properties of ‘free range’ farmers by flying drones over their land to document infringements and provide proof that the ‘free range’ products, for which we pay a premium, are in some cases not compliant with the already lax government laws.

So where is the opposition government in all of this? Can we rely upon them to provide balance?

Unfortunately not, because this week’s opposition government is next weeks government, and they also want to have the power to carry out surveillance on the population. All it would take is for an incursion of some description to occur on Australian soil and any politician who had opposed these draconian measures would be finished.

Under the legislation introduced into the Australian Senate on Wednesday by federal Attorney-General George Brandis, spy agencies will be given the power to access a third party’s computer.

So this is not the computer of the criminal, this is any computer that they consider ‘linked’ to that computer, regardless of the activity of the machine or the individual who owns that machine.

This means that your PC, your laptop, your phone, your tablet will be open to surveillance.

Edward Snowden in a recent interview made a startling claim that a culture exists within the NSA in which, during surveillance, nude photographs picked up of people in “sexually compromising” situations are routinely passed around.

In the same interview he continued “If you think your HIV status is secret from GCHQ, forget it,” he said. “The tools are available to protect data and communications but only if you are important enough for your doctor or lawyer to care.”

We must have open and honest debate on this subject. We cannot have decisions made in fear or out of sheer laziness to find a more refined solution.

We must equally not shy away from the real dangers that exist in the world today and strive to find a legitimate solution to this 21st century problem.

However the only way for us to find an appropriate and effective solution is to collectively debate the issue and together, as a nation, make an informed decision.

This is the Australian Privacy Act: http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-act/the-privacy-act and these are the proposed changes: http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-act/privacy-law-reform

This is not the thin end of the wedge; this is the wedge.

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On the 31 May 2014 SBS showed the John Pilger film called Utopia.

This film looks at how Aboriginal people are treated throughout Australia.

The Black Caucus can not stress enough how important this film is to better the understanding of the Aboriginal plight in Australia.





The film is a hard hitting and unforgiving look at Australia, its history with the indigenous people, and its relationship with the Aboriginal people.

This article contains facts lifted directly from the film:

  • Jay Creek was a government reserve where Aboriginal children were originally taken; these children later became reportedly the first of the stolen generations.
  • The ‘eugenics movement’ which ran the Aboriginal facilities was linked to fascism.
  • Many of the Aboriginal children became domestic servants in middle class homes.
  • Known as ‘the bungalow’, the Aboriginal children taken there were regularly sexually abused by their white carers.
  • Over 37 children were taken from Lighting Ridge in NSW one year after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology.
  • Black children were taken from their homes and given to whites in 2013 as part of a new stolen generation, a practice that is still taking place to this day.
  • In the north of Queensland over 200 Black babies have been taken from their mothers in hospitals, straight after their birth in recent years.
  • In one year the government spent $80 million on surveillance and enforcement to take black children away from their parents. This is compared with $500,000 on supporting poor families.
  • In 2007 the state of emergency intervention only applied to Aboriginal people. The intervention was launched on the lie of paedophilia in those communities which was propagated by poor journalism at the ABC.
  • The public propaganda sell for this was based on the ABC programme ‘Lateline’. Lateline used footage from communities that were hundreds of kilometres away from the Milajura community and claimed that there were gangs of Aboriginal men abusing and facilitating the abuse of Aboriginal women and children.
  • The government used this claim to move into the territories and were controlling people’s lives and their land. People who did not hand over the leases to their land were denied essential services. This was known as Top End Secret 2
  • The government suspended the Racial Discrimination Act in order to implement the laws.
  • There is compelling evidence that “The Intervention”, which was led by Prime Minister John Howard, appeared to be a mask for the discovery and mining of uranium that was then found on the Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory.
  • Mining companies earn profits of $1 billion a week on minerals they did not make on land that they do not own.
  • In the 1980s, the Labour Party pledged national land rights to Aboriginal people, but these pledges were abandoned once they came into power.
  • The mining tax was reduced to nothing and the revenue lost was estimated at $60 billion, enough to fund the national land rights and take the Aboriginal people out of poverty.
  • Lang Hancock, a mining magnate, wanted to herd Aboriginal people into remote areas and “dope” the water in that area to make them sterile.
  • Edmond Barton – Founder of the white Australia policy said “The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to those who weren’t British or white skinned.”
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that almost one third of Aboriginal people are dead before the age of 45.
  • The history wars – A group of academics and commentators claimed that there had been no invasion of Australia, no massacre, no genocide. They were attempting to rewrite Australian history and erase horrors of the past.
  • Rottnest Island in 1838 was a brutal prison and became one of Britain’s most isolated concentration camps. The prison was known as “the quad”.
  • Western Australia is a state of imprisonment for Black Australia. A prisoner called Mr Ward was being transported to a prison. He was so hot that he cooked in the back of a transport van on a 50 degree day.
  • Western Australia is “racking and stacking” black prisoners. This is the practice of double bunking Black prisoners in the same beds and cells.
  • An Aboriginal prison to be fully populated with only Aboriginal prisoners, which make up less that 3% of the population, has been built in Derby.
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that today, black Australians are among the most imprisoned people on earth.
  • Protective custody in Alice Springs and the Northern Territory means that the police can take people from the streets who have committed no crime.
  • The rate of incarceration of black people in the Northern Territory is six times as much as South Africa during apartheid, and West Australia is eight times as much.

The Black Caucus believes that this film may not be balanced in its reporting, but certainly goes some way to redress the balance of misinformation that has been fed to the Australian public through lies and misdirection.

This film is an exposé on the actions of government policies inflicted upon Aboriginal people since the first “settlers” set foot onto Aboriginal land.

This film should be shown widely, discussed, and debated. This film should raise questions from the public that need to be answered by the government. This film should hasten the question of how to resolve these issues from debate into action.

Let us all make the Aboriginal plight more public. Let us all understand the issues just a little more than we did yesterday. Let us all find a solution as a country, from the premise that we should treat all races and cultures equally and with the respect we all deserve.

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The Citizenship debate.

This week in Australia, the foreign minister Julie Bishop announced that she will revoke the citizenship of those 150 Australians that are fighting in Syria, and refuse to issue passports to those who wish to join the militant groups.

She stated, “I have used my authority under the Australian Passport Act to cancel and refuse to issue passports where the government suspects an individual posses a threat to our security.”

Australia has joined other countries including Britain who are using the right to citizenship as a way of controlling any undesired element in their countries.

This concern is understandable, as governments do not wish for these highly trained and potentially radicalised soldiers to return to their shores, looking for a new war and using their skills to endanger their fellow citizens.

However the Black Caucus wishes to debate the precedent that this might set and how the Australian Passport act might be abused in the future.

How will governments define “…threats to our security”?

Is a threat someone who will cause physical harm? Is a threat someone who will cause civil unrest? Is a threat someone who does not agree with a government or populist opinion?

Maybe citizenship would be revoked on something as intangible as whether your actions are “unAustralian”

Will the government skip past the traditional concepts of crime and punishment of its citizens to simply ship the problems off to the shores of someone else?

The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Bret Walker SC in a report that was tabled in parliament this week stated:

“The INSLM is concerned that the concept of dual-citizenship raises issues of divided loyalties and does not see why, as a matter of policy, an Australian citizen should also be able to be a citizen of another country.”

So not only is Australia reserving the right to revoke your citizenship, but it is also revoking your right to go anywhere else.

Does this recommendation apply to all Australians with dual citizenship, or just those who have citizenship with traditionally non white countries?

There are two main issues here that both deserve an article and debate of their own.

The first is whether a country has the right to control its citizens, not just by laws, taxes and punishment, but now with the fear of being disowned by a country in which they were potentially born, raised and paid taxes.

The second is the fact that the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor does not believe that Australians should be entitled to dual citizenship.

If you have two passports in your possession, which one would you give up?

The Black Caucus does not support terrorism and does not support the atrocities around the world.

This debate is about the meaning of citizenship.

What does it mean to an individual to be a citizen of a country?

What can an individual expect from their country?

What must a citizen give to that country?

What does it mean to a country to have citizens?

What freedoms and restrictions can a country legitimately impose upon its citizens before they start to impose upon their civil liberties?

In a country founded on continuous immigration, are we all really so unsophisticated that we suddenly cannot grasp the concept, rights and responsibilities of dual nationality?

If everyone with a dual passport left, would that leave an Australia in which you would wish to live?

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Positive Discrimination in Australia

In order to understand the argument for positive discrimination, we need to analyse how it works, and one of the countries that has used it effectively to redress their racial power imbalance is America

Positive discrimination played a large part in the modern day development of America.

America had a highly educated and a disproportionately unrepresented population of black people still feeling the residual effects of slavery, despite the rise of the civil rights movement in the 60s.

All those in power were white.

All those who represented the black communities in government were white.

All those who were supporting the black communities were white.

All those servicing the black communities were white.

Black people had no representation, and no influence.

Positive discrimination was considered to be one of the better solutions to resolve this imbalance.

Positive discrimination was aimed at management positions and positions of influence. In this sense, it meant that if two candidates applied for a job, both with equal qualification, both with equal potential and ability to do the job, then the job should be awarded to the black candidate if there was a white majority at that level in the organisation.

The result was that black people were shoehorned into positions of authority and influence, forcing the institutions to tolerate, work with, and finally accept the black powerbrokers into mainstream politics at all levels.

The programme was not without difficulty as it challenged traditional methods of employment and threatened the white powerbase.

It also meant that, if not correctly applied, black candidates were been selected into positions for which they were not qualified. This then undermined the programme as replacing talent for colour.

The black community became disillusioned with the programme because they wanted to be treated as equals and not as a special case. They wanted to be able to look their colleagues in the eyes and say that they got to their position on merit and not on favour, or worse still, charity.

However for all its failings, and for all its critics, it worked to begin to redress the balance of power. It allowed your children to have strong black role models in positions of power.

Before that point children could only aspire to be church ministers, pop stars and sports people if they wished to be in positions of influence.

The singing and dancing days are not over in the US, but they are now balanced by influential politicians, civil rights workers, poets, civic leaders, academics…oh yes, and a President.

So what can Australia learn from this example?

Australia is a black country, although you would not think it to look around.

It was originally populated by a black indigenous people who have been unceremoniously swept aside. Relegated to infertile lands they have been overlooked by mainstream Australia, and actively oppressed by governments on both sides of the house.

The indigenous people of Australia have no effective representation that is taken seriously in Canberra, or any settler-dominated city.

Indigenous people have plenty in their communities who aim to do well for their people, however the cries and needs of their communities are falling upon the ears of a white government, representing a predominately white settler nation.

Testament to this is the fact that it was only in 2010 that Australia got its first indigenous representative in parliament*.

This balance needs to be redressed in Australia.

The black communities need more voices in positions of real power, to represent their interests at all levels of our communities.

As the black population of Australia rises, more black representation is required. This is no longer just an indigenous problem, this is a problem for all black communities.

Who are the black people that represent our communities?

Who are the black faces that children will look towards for inspiration, mentorship and leadership?

Who are our black power brokers?

The Black Caucus believes in equal opportunity, and we believe in getting ahead on proven ability and merit.

However it is difficult to rise up and be treated equally when white settlers have their foot on your neck.

White Australia has to be placed in a position where they can learn that talent, representation and power does not just come in shades of white.

White Australia needs to be actively encouraged to recognise the abilities of everyone in Australia.

The time has come for Australia to redress the power imbalance. All communities need equal representation, and the talking heads on our televisions should not just be white.

Positive discrimination is a proven method of redressing the balance of representation though out all walks of Australian life, from law enforcement to council representatives from local politics to CEOs, and from the media to international politics.

Australia can learn from the mistakes of this programme in the US and not fall into the technical compliance of South Africa.

Positive discrimination when, implemented correctly, will make Australia a stronger and more inclusive nation.

It will provide opportunities for the disenfranchised and role models for the youth. It will give people a sense of pride, not only in their community, but in a country that supports their community.

Once the balance has been redressed, once white Australia has been re-educated, and once all non white communities are proportionately represented in all walks of life, the programme should be removed.

In an ideal Australia, positions should be achieved on merit regardless of skin colour. This is not an ideal Australia, but with the right programmes and commitments, we can achieve all great things, and create a stronger, united Australia.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indigenous_Australian_politicians


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