Lately, thanks largely to Trump and the ever-increasing murders of people of colour in the States, a lot of people have re-ignited the discussion about the importance of ‘humanism’.
Many of these people are well-meaning when they spout that “they don’t see colour” and they wish “people would stop with the race card between ‘whites and blacks’”.
After all, these people state, we’re all just “humans”.
Why can’t we all just get along?
And, in a sense, these people are right.
We are all just humans. Race is a social construct.
However, like I said in that post, it doesn’t matter. Race was created to make white people superior and other races inferior.
Which, due to the fact that race is a social construct, religions can be turned into a race. (Which means that when you reply to someone who’s called you out for being a racist douche to Muslims and you think your ‘smart’ quip about how Islam isn’t a race, that actually doesn’t mean you’re not racist. I mean, you could just be a bigot, but let’s be realistic. Hitler infamously turned Judaism into a race, resulting in the genocide of six million Jewish people. He gave specific ‘identifiable’ characteristics to Jews so that Germans could ‘be on the lookout’. People who weren’t Jewish were killed for having Jewish grandparents. Hitler made a race. If you see Muslims as Arab terrorists … that means your image, is, in fact, a racist one.)
Now that we’ve reiterated that race is indeed a social construct, let’s deconstruct why the statements I mentioned before are racist and dismissive, because you really need to get it.
We do not live in a perfect world, and I doubt we ever will.
Most of the “perfect” worlds we live in were created through the use of slavery, the dehumanisation and exploitation of others.
For example, children are frequently taught that Australia was “discovered” by Captain Cook in 1770, and “settled” in 1788.
Neither of those statements are true.
Cook went looking for Australia; England had already heard about the continent from other explorers.
More importantly, white people discovered Australia, and then white people invaded it.
Aboriginal people lived in Australia for at least 40,000 years before white people “discovered” it.
Secondly, white people didn’t settle shit.
We killed and took what we wanted. We inflicted new laws on Aboriginal people, without a second thought about how their laws worked, and with no regard about explaining what they were.
We took their land, their food, their lifestyle, their language, their culture, their children and their lives.
In return, we gave them diseases that helped to spread our genocide, and plied Aboriginal people with alcohol as a solution.
During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, we also had slaves – particularly in Queensland.
A large portion of those slaves came from the Pacific Islands (or rather kidnapped) and forced them to work in the cane fields.
Then Australia decided that they should abolish slavery, because it was the 1900’s, and decided to become even more a racist dick and implemented and enforced The White Australia Policy.
No, I’m not making this up. Google it.
It’s a fact.
So, after kidnapping Pacific Islanders for slave labour, we then deported them (even if they were born here) because we wanted to make Australia white.
Aboriginal people still didn’t receive the right to vote until 1967 – even though discussions had started in 1962 about giving Aboriginal people that right. On top of this, Aboriginal people weren’t allowed into politics until 1983.
To make this insult worse, Aboriginal men who fought in both world wars weren’t acknowledged for their sacrifices alongside their white comrades, and didn’t receive equal pay, or respect, when they returned.
In fact, many Aboriginal people weren’t recognised as war heroes until recently.
If this couldn’t get any worse, Aboriginal parents who had “mixed-race” children, still had their children stolen from them up until the 70’s.
After these children were stolen from their parents by the government, they were rarely ever reunited with their families.
They were forced into missionaries, to adopt a new religion.
They were forced to leave behind any cultural or family ties – and many were taken at such a young age, that they can’t remember their parents.
These children were then used to work in labour positions that paid very little.
And this isn’t even discussing what Australian has taken from other countries – like Nauru – to make our country prosperous.
Aboriginal people still face extreme racism and prejudice daily – even from elected officials.
Many Australians (i.e. white Australians) refuse to acknowledge any of this, because it means admitting we have a privilege.
And we do.
This country was built on slavery, convict labour, massacres, oppression and the exploitation of others.
And many of these things were still happening legally in Australia in the 70’s.
Just think about that.
The privileges you have, as a white person, are built at the cost of a person of colour’s.
Your status is based on our deliberate mistreatment of other races.
This is why it’s so fundamental to recognise race.
I’d love to live in a more accepting, more Utopian world.
I’d love it if we didn’t have racial prejudices.
But the fact is, we do.
And we have a lot of them – and they’re still on-going.
The fact that people still don’t believe Obama is American because he’s black is proof of it.
The fact that a black kid can get shot for playing with a toy gun is proof of it.
The fact that there are literally people alive today who remember segregation and the Stolen Generation is proof of that.
When you say you “don’t see colour” and make a point about being a “humanist” because “we’re all people”, you’re dismissing the real-life experiences of people of colour.
You’re forgetting that the past where this treatment was actually legal wasn’t that long ago.
You’re forgetting that people alive today remember slavery and segregation and were a part of it.
You’re dismissing the sacrifices of people like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X who literally died for their causes.
You’re dismissing the fact that, by not seeing someone’s race, you’re saying their experiences aren’t relevant and therefore don’t matter.
You’re avoiding the very real issues of the deeply ingrained racism in our society.
People of colour might not have wanted race to be created, but it was.
And now it’s an undeniable fact that racism is a part of our society.
Saying you don’t see it and complaining about how “no one gets along” just adds to the problem.
Whether it’s well-meaning or not, it’s deeply offensive. It dismisses that white people have a privilege, and that your developed country is successful due to the oppression of others.
Colour is important to recognise, because even if you wouldn’t judge someone based on the colour of their skin, doesn’t mean no one else has done the same.
Stop pretending race and racism isn’t an issue.
And by ignoring it, you’re choosing the side of the oppressor.
Originally published on The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise.
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