Racism In Australia

Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out to the field. ‘ And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. The Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel? ‘ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brothers keeper? ‘ and the Lord said, ‘what have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand… Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord. (Genesis 4:8-11, 16 NRSV) It’s a story about conflict – between two different cultures of ways of relating to the earth.

Abel was a shepherd, Cain an Agriculturist. It’s a story-in-miniature of the bloodstained history of the human race. A very good morning ladies and gentlemen, today, my colleagues and I will be giving you a presentation on racism. Before I begin let me introduce my colleagues. As the first speaker, I, Naomi Ishak, will be giving the introduction to our topic and I also will be giving the history of racism in Australia. The second speaker, Phung Siew May, will be talking about racism in Malaysia and our last speaker, Morian Madjid, will be giving the comparison between racism in Malaysia and Australia and the conclusion.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Racism is essentially a conscious or unconscious beliefs in the inherent superiority of one race over another\others and thereby the right by that race to use power to dominate. Racism can exist at different levels- personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural. There are four different types of racism in our society today. The fist one is personal level racism. Personal level racism means personal attitudes, values and beliefs about the superiority of the white race and the inferiority of the black race. The second is interpersonal level racism.

It means the behavior towards others that reflects this belief. Thirdly is institutional level racism, this racism is about established laws, customs, traditions and the practices that systematically result in racial inequalities in a society, organizations or institutions. Lastly is cultural level racism. This is about the values and norms of social conduct that promote white cultural practices as norm and the measuring standard and sustain black culture in an inferior position. Racism in Australia all began when the ‘first fleet’ arrived in 1788. At that time there were an estimated 750,000 Aboriginals (7000 in Tasmania).

In 1920 that number had fallen to 60,000. In 1971 Aboriginals were included in the national census for the first time. British settlement began in Van Dieman’s Land in 1803-1804. Massacres began on the 3rd of May 1804 at Risdon when 102 Regiment of the British Army shot dead 50 Oyster Bay people, including women and children. The Tasmanians had approached without spears and with green boughs in their hands, as a sign of piece. The commanding officer said afterwards he didn’t think the aborigines would be any use to the British. The Black war lasted seven years (1824-1831).

Both sides committed atrocities, but although black men were castrated and black women were raped, there wasn’t any record of rape committed by Aboriginals towards any white women. Governor George Arthur mobilized all available settlers and convicts to form the infamous ‘black line’, with 2200 men moving across the island over a six-week period, to try in a pincer movement to herd the remaining Aboriginals to the south east. They captured an old man and a child. By 1831, 175 Europeans were killed, 200 wounded, 347 houses plundered or burnt. At least 700 Aboriginals were killed in the war.

Meanwhile the European population grew from 500 in 1820 to 24,000 in 1830. Most of the Europeans believed Aboriginals to be the inferior race; some believed them to be the missing link between monkeys and humans or ‘savages’ who ought to be exterminated. This is called personal level racism, because of the Europeans belief that they are the superior race and that the black race is an insult to the human species. Members of the Ya-idthma-dthang tribe have passed on this story: In the high country of North-east Victoria, near Mt Buffalo, ‘they buried our babies in the ground with only their heads above the ground.

All in row they were. Then they had a test to see who could kick the babies heads above the furthers. One-man clubbed a babies’ head off from horseback. Then they spent most of the day raping the women, most of them tortured to death. The men’s genitals were cut of and tied their hands behind their backs. They killed in other bad ways too. This story was quoted from Jan Roberts’ book, Massacre to Mining: The Colonization of Aboriginal Australians dove, 1985. In the 1980s over 100 Aboriginal people died in custody of the Australian police and prison systems.

Finally in 1987 the Australian Government formed a ‘Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in custody’. Four years and 30 million dollars later it released a damning report. Today, racism is still at large in Australia. Especially with people like Pauline Hanson trying to become the prime minister. However, the violence has slimmed down than before. Sadly, Aboriginals and Asians are still the target for abuse in Australia. In the notes that I had passed you earlier, there is a short paragraph about an elderly Vietnamese couple that had recently moved to an outer suburb in one of Australia’s capital cities with their three grown-up children.

After only three weeks of staying there, rocks were thrown into the their front windows of the bedroom and lounge. The second attack was spray paint all over the front of their house; the graffiti consisted of the words ‘Asians Out’. The last attack was when rubbish was dumped onto their garden. The family moved out shortly after that. A lot of Asians have suffered the consequences of Australia’s harsh attitude towards racism. Some white people haven’t faired well especially when they support the aboriginals and the Asians. Not surprisingly, most Asians can remember the name Pauline Hanson rather than Australia’s prime minister.