If one were to talk about a human rights issues that affects them at social, political, economic, environmental and even at personal level the most- its racism. Be it any county, the law forbids any citizen from discriminating on the basis of caste, colour religion or creed and even though we are living in 2020 the ideal world that’s free from all these forms of social discrimination still seems like a utopian vision. A human rights issue that I feel very strongly about is the issue of racial discrimination and living in Australia has given me ample evidence of prevalent the issue still is today.
The starts of 2002 saw how the COVID pandemic and its economic implications affected the black community disproportionately. In Australia, the racial discrimination traces both historical and contemporary racist community attitudes that have been around for a long time. It is so common to see it Australia that hate speech and prejudices infect the lives of people of colour daily. The politicians themselves use this issue only for race baiting, media also contorts the story as per their convenience to only show us parts that will not agitate us. The George Floyd protests in USA, June 2002 have however brought the whole issue into light and started a dialogue all over the world that can simply not be ignored. In this report we will be critically analysing the issues of racial discrimination from a human rights-based practice position.
The business models of Australia are built on promoting a racist ideology and racial discrimination is just as systemic in Australian media as it is in Australian society. From the racists cartoons to misogynistic radio broadcasters inciting race riots, our very social fabric is undermined every day. Balancing free speech against harm is not something that the Australian media is capable of as they are constantly publishing and broadcasting articles that show just how marginalising and stigmatising the Australian populace and government is.
The audiences do not have access to diverse voices that are representative of all the population groups in the country. So when a voice like Blair Cottrell demands for a race based immigration policy for anyone entering the country the media instead being unbiased chooses to amplify this. The understanding has been reduced to a version that is favoured by the white population and it continues to override the experiences of the indigenous, immigrant and aboriginal population of Australia who continue to face discrimination in some form or the other each day. Racism is Australia has been normalised to such an extent that It is almost expected in certain situation. Following the George Floyd protests in June 2020 a channel nine reporter ended and interview by concluding that Australians to not have the struggle or understanding as US when it comes to “History of police violence “ while completely forgetting the fact that over 432 indigenous Australians have died in the police custody in the past 30 years.
Because media completely undermines the amount of responsibility, they have in influencing popular opinion, these examples of journalistic maleficence eventually contribute to a culture of racism that permeates through our media into the wider society.
The universal declaration of human rights proclaims that all human beings are born as equal and free and they cannot be discriminated against in any capacity. Everyone is entitled to all kinds of freedom and opportunity without distinction of any kind in particular as to race religion and colour. International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination is the centrepiece of international efforts to deal with racial discrimination. Victims of discrimination within the scope of this convention include minorities, indigenous people, aboriginals, non-citizens, castes or descent groups. All the societies in our world have diverse ethnicities and races and none of these are completely free from discrimination. This make racial discrimination one of the most important human rights issues of our time.
This charter by the United Nations is based on the assumptions of principles of equality and dignity that must be inherent to all human beings irrespective of their race, religion gender or creed. All the members have pledged to take singular as well as joint actions that will help in cooperation with the organisation for the achievement of this goal that is to promote universal respect. Another goal of the charter is to encourage the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone.
One of the few main objectives of the charter is to absolve and eradicate all forms of discrimination that exist in our society to prevent and combat racist doctrines in our society that have existed for so long. The charter seeks to promote understanding between different races and build an international community from all forms of racial segregations.
This convention came into force 4th January 1969 has certain principles and agreements all members must abide by. They are also supposed to take special measures to for ensuring secure advancements of certain ethnic groups and individuals that may require protection. It condemns all forms of racial segregation.
State parties are also to adopt effective measures in the fields of culture information, teaching and education that will help in combating prejudices that often lead to any form of racial jurisdiction. They must introduce steps that will promote understanding. Tolerance and friendship among the nations, racial or ethnic groups.
Racism has never been an easy to quantify. Mostly because the mediums that perpetrate are saturated with power and control. And it’s the systemic use of this tools that is used to control the psyche of masses. Or else how could one justify the rampant brutal acts of racial discrimination that happen every all across the world? Who teaches the young masses about white supremacy? Where does this sense of entitlement that designates one race as superior and the other as inferior, where does it come from?
The political class of Australia are vehement in their denial of any form of racial disparities that exist in the country. Yet one look at the regular media trials and brainwashing of the masses by powerful politicians will reveal the systemic cycle of racial hate that poisons this society. It threatens to tarnish the very fabric of social consciousness through various acts of discrimination against, refuges different ethnic groups, aboriginals and immigrants (Mellor, D. 2003).
As per new data The Australian Human Rights Commission has said about one in four people filed racial discrimination complaints in the past two months. They said that they were targeted due to COVID-19 and the loss of jobs. The Asian-Australian community faces "a compounded level of stress" caused by racism. The identities of immigrants are invalidated each day and they must bear the brunt of the same in every aspect of their lives simply because they do not belong to one dominant race.
The racist ideology that exists in our society is deeply ingrained that it completely undermines the diversity that exists across this beautiful county. Majority of the population in Australia is either uncomfortable, afraid or unnecessarily defensive when they come face to face with anyone who does not fit the mould that has been conceptualised by the dominant culture. Its extremely detrimental for any one who is not white, for anyone who is trying break years of systemic struggles to create a life for themselves for anyone who came to this country to improve their lives. Immigrants and refugees are derided and insulted with derigtaory comments and subjected to cyclical hate each day. Racial discrimination is not always in the form of abuse or violence. Sometimes it can even be denial of opportunities to someone who doesn’t look a certain way.
In one of the biggest ever surveys conducted on racism and prejudice, commissioned by SBS with the Western Sydney University it was discovered that 1 in every 12 people experience racism in Australia. A study conducted in western Sydney University by Professor Kevin Dunn on 6000 respondents recorded their response on questions about attitudes to cultural differences, tolerance of specific groups and racial hierarchy. Research shows that 36.4% of the respondents believed that the number of immigrants accepted into Australia was way too high. Respondents who spoke languages other than English had reported the high rates racism at work place and schools. 48.6% of the respondent also believed that people from different racial, ethnic, cultural and religious minorities groups who live in Australia should behave more like mainstream Australians (Dunn 2004).
To even get to the point where mainstream Australians can understand the journey and predicament of all the non-white communities and their human rights, there must be sage place for discourse and some critical internal reflection. There has to be historical truth telling at the higher levels that inspires self-reflection and unlearning. We cannot be accepting of a society or a government that continues to ignore the disparities that exists across all these groups of society. Not only is it a huge violation of all human rights, it is detrimental towards ensuring the unilateral immersive growth of nation in this century
a)I was involved with the “Australian Human Rights Commission’s Racism. It Stops With Me"campaign. This campaign was launched by Australia’s Race discrimination Commissioner and it is a part of the Commission’s National Anti-Racism Strategy. It focuses on raising public awareness about issues concerning racism.
As a volunteer I was a part of numerous anti-racism strategy consultation process held in the last two terms and I also participated in the national Forum on Diversity Training in Policing.
During my volunteering fays I also created a webpage to create awareness about racial discrimination and inviting people to participate in their thoughts about how to tackle racism in Australia in the discussion forum. I was responsible for conducting meetings for students across various colleges in my district on a monthly basis and reported my findings to my supervisor.my responsibility was to conduct surveys collect campaign signatures, sign in more volunteers and conduct town meetings for youngsters across different ethnic groups. The sense of community building so as to not make them feel alone helped me as much as it helped them. It gave me an anchor and helped me educate myself about the nuances of racial and gender disparities embedded in our sub conscious minds.
The campaign has done a lot despite the limited amount of resources and it has been extremely successful in creating a network of allies and supporters that are working towards creating a systemic change against racism. I saw the ground work for support and enhancement of anti-racism policies at both organizational and local levels.
b) Participating in Greens campaign about “An Antiracist Australia " online
Participating in this campaign helped me educate myself about the state of affairs and actual onsite incidents that take place in Australia. The online forum was an interactive one that gave me access to so many individuals all over the country who were to make this more accessible and far reaching for all the ethnic groups. It helped me examine and understand my own position and privilege in various contexts. The interactions I had online were extremely beneficial for my research and helped me understand more about the world we live in. the coordinators provided us with specific sources of information, history and legalities to provide larger context about the issues at hands. From a human rights point of view, they pointed towards enablers and misgivings in our own everyday attitude that might insinuate discrimination. Through various debates and all levels of discourse I was able to understand the role of perpetuated myths and stereotypes that caused this sense of entitlement. The entire experience was extremely inspiring and educational.
c) Amnesty International Australia. Supporting their campaign
via donation https://action.amnesty.org.au/anti-racism
I am extremely active on various online portals and attend various town meetings that discuss anti-racism policies. I also attend various workshops online and make a point to go for at least a couple of meetings every few months to learn about the developments for the upliftment of ethnic groups in my locality. I am vociferous supporter who is extremely politically aware and I wish to study this further in the future so as to make myself useful in every way and help the sections of the society that have been neglected for so long.
Despite innumerable organizations and commissions working towards eradicating racism, the problem lies in the very thinking of certain population groups. Understanding the patterns of racial disparity or discrimination of any kind requires thorough review of facts and systemic unlearning of biases. Human rights activists working with various boards and NGO’s work towards eradication of these very biases and help in building a more equal society. They do this through conscious efforts and creation of equitable opportunities of marginalized groups. They also help in creating more exposure for the conditions of various ethnic groups and oppressed sections of the society through their dedicated efforts. Confronting acts of racial discrimination, through questioning of personal privileges and constantly working towards changing personal racial biases and prejudices for entire sections of groups at a times are some of their roles.
As an individual working towards alleviation of masses from the throes of racist attacks I must listen and validate the experiences of people who have been subjected to such atrocities at economic, personal, cultural, political and professional level.
I must incorporate ethe habit of asking extremely hard questions to myself and close ones to start a dialogue about the notion of equality. I must make myself and everyone around me aware enough to start questioning their personal biases, have individuals self-reflect and understand the context and scenario that exists even today regarding superiority and inferiority.
At a community level I must ensure that I enroll myself to vote, be approachable enough to discuss ideas about helping the neighborhood or town with anti-racism meetings. I must also take some responsibility and enquire at that the places I frequently visit if they have adequate human rights protecting and anti-racist policies. I must educate my classmates and immediate group about the subject and convince them to volunteer too.
Despite the existence of so many anti racism laws and policies, racial discrimination is till an issue we are struggling with in the 20th century. The only way to deal with problem is to introduce systemic unlearning for the removal bias in the mind of the general populace. This will require solidified agitation, awareness, education and organisation so as to instil the idea of not just solidarity but also a heightened sense of responsibility. One that doesn’t superiority when they are standing with their fellow humans. The preservation of dignity and equal opportunity is the most fundamental human right and we must do everything in our power to ensure that it is never threatened for anyone.
Mellor, D. (2003). Contemporary racism in Australia: The experiences of Aborigines. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29(4), 474-486.
Dunn, K. M. (2004). Racism in Australia: findings of a survey on racist attitudes and experiences of racism.
Hattam, R., & Atkinson, S. (2006). Reconciliation as a frame for rethinking racism in Australia. Social Identities, 12(6), 683-700.
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