The lie of reverse racism is one of the chief tools of the racist to create division and draw people to their side.
I realised this early when I first began to reflect on the racism which I learned from my upbringing in conservative northern Queensland.
“Oh they receive so many hand-outs from the Government and free housing, and did you even know they get free taxis – it’s just not fair!” is an accurate paraphrasing of many conversations I heard non-indigenous Australians have when I was a child.
Of course there was no discussion of the realities of what it was like for indigenous Australians as their lands were occupied by Europeans, they were killed or moved to missions, and their children stripped from them to “assist” in assimilation into the European-based society enforced on them.
I strongly doubt whether any of the gossips had the slightest idea of what Government assistance indigenous Australian actually received, but it sure bonded the “us” and drove in the wedge further from “them”.
Hansonism has ensured that this narrow-minded division has also been applied to recent migrants with darkened skin, especially those from Asia and Africa.
When I wrote my explanation of Black Lives Matter, specifically when I explained the inferred 4th word, I was thinking of addressing what the racists suggest is that word – instead of at the end “Also” they suggest the movement is saying “more”, or even at the front “only”.
That is utterly preposterous given the history of racism in our and other nations, and the deeply ingrained inequity and systemic racism embedded in our systems.
The concept of reverse racism is wrapped up in white privilege, and it is patent in the objection to Black Lives Matter. “Why only say black lives matter, are you not being divisive (yourself)?” is the question of the racist or the ill-considered privileged.
To divide assumes that first we must be whole.
When in Australian history, or American, have we ever been whole or all equal? That is precisely what Black Lives Matter is all about – making us whole – making us all equal.
But the only ones who do not realise that are the ones who have enjoyed a privileged position their entire life, even though many prefer to see themselves as victims because of other changes in society associated with, for instance, automation and globalisation.
The power in Black Lives Matter, and leaving the 4th word silent, is in assertion. It says that irrespective of what others who have enjoyed privilege in their lives say or think we assert that black lives Do matter.
Now, in this assertive tone, even placing an emphatic “Do” is a disservice.
Black Lives Matter.
To many of us who have enjoyed that privilege our entire lives even the concept of equivalence shocks them so greatly that they immediately misread that for preference, and then scream “reverse racism”.
They confuse assertion for aggression, and their fight or flight stress response is activated – often leading to responding in kind with the aggression that they erroneously perceived – rather than placing themselves in others’ shoes and considering what it must be like to live in a society where for hundreds of years your life and the life of your family, ancestors, loved-ones and friends have not been valued as equal or as important.
As the father of two black lives, and the husband of another, you better believe we, too, assert that their lives matter! Just as much as any human being that has ever walked this Earth!
Is that not all our birthright as human beings?
It is not lost on me, either, that some might perceive that I may be expressing my own white privilege insisting that my own blood and loved-ones would enjoy the same privilege that I have enjoyed. But that leads to a whole other discussion which I am currently working on for a post on the racist undertones to much of the reporting on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
I must admit one thing, however. I Do enjoy spending time with migrants and/or people who have spent a significant proportion of their life outside of Australia because many are humble, considerate, appreciative and sincere, the characters we valued and upheld before entitlement and anger grew so strong…
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© Copyright Brett Edgerton 2021
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