I am slightly racist, what about you? 7



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Waleed Aly, now Gold Logie Winner, has previously written about the polite racism of the educated middle class and the underlying low grade all-pervasive racism in Australia. He is of course right, not that we like to admit it.

I am a low grade racist. Some years ago I was involved in a subliminal psychological test which provided me with the result ‘Slightly Racist”. I was so amazed at this, particularly as a long-time supporter of a multi-cultural Australia and at the time engaged with people from many different countries, that I took the test again. Same result: Slightly Racist.

I didn’t mention this to anybody for many years until a learned friend from Armenia mentioned that she thought we were all racist. She said it was the way in which we dealt with our racism that mattered. It occurred to me later that maybe the best result one could have got from that subliminal test was in fact to be only slightly racist.

Basically racism tends to stem from our evolving to live in groups for protection and anyone outside our particular group is seen as a threat. We strengthen our group by belittling those members of the other groups. The more we belittle the other group the stronger we perceive ours.

I well remember the Howard Government’s strategy of attacking the unemployed, the people on disability pensions and then the refugees arriving by boat in order to strengthen its flagging popularity. I have always blamed John Howard for the Cronulla riot as a result of the then-government’s inflammatory rhetoric.

Australia regards itself as a tolerant country despite its underlying racism. We are so tolerant that we generally do little to counter the subtle racism when we come across it in general conversation in our own groups. If I challenged my friends and every time I heard a belittling comment I don’t think I would have too many friends left. You know the comments about ‘they’ do this or ‘they’ don’t do that, ‘they’ don’t speak English etc. etc.

People would have a different attitude if they were for some time in the ‘out’ group or to be a minority. Minorities know when they are being the brunt of prejudice. Being stigmatised is a real feeling and once you have felt it, it stays with you forever. It is as real as a kick in the guts and can be just as hurtful. Stan Grant has spoken about the first Australians carrying the weight of white colonialism. They also carry the weight of stigmatism.

Racism is evident in all countries and thankfully there are few of the extreme racists in Australia as there are elsewhere in the world. But we can do better. It is interesting that we now hear less of a multicultural Australia. It is up to our leaders to foster what can be gained from other cultures which have so much to offer.

Are you racist? Why do you think you are or aren’t? Are Australians polite racists?

Michael Whitehead

Michael Whitehead attended uni as a mature age student in his 50s, completing multiple postgraduate degrees in health science and psychology. He has a canoe, a pushbike, a bodyboard, a tennis racquet and a fishing rod. He uses them all. Michael is now enjoying retirement after a wide range of careers, most recently as Manager of a Family Support Service.

  1. I was very racist when I was a child in New Zealand. My parents both worked with Maoris, yet we never had Maori friends, or a Maori in the house. I recall dad saying once that all Germaine Greer needed was “A big buck nigger up her”. I leaned different once I joined the RNZAF and got away from their influence.

  2. I am a white Australian. I was born here to parents of British and German descent, and I am racist.
    I am not ashamed of my racism. It is neither a good thing or a bad thing. To be protective of one’s own is natural, instinctive. I mean no harm to anyone who means no harm to me. Live and let live, but be vigilant and cautious. I would repel all those who would come here and try to change Australia to be more like the places they fled. To be non-racist is to roll over and let others have their own way to your own detriment.

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  3. I’m a racist. In fact, given the definition of race/racism, it seems to me that it would be almost impossible not to be. There are several elements to racism that include eg, “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race.”

    Biologically there are five recognised races and those races demonstrate different characteristics eg, skin colour, facial shapes, body shapes, I don’t need to have faith that this definition is true, I simply have to look about and I can see people exhibiting different racial features.

    Other parts of the definitions of race/racism etc include feeling superior to one race or another. Although I don’t feel superior to anyone, one has to ask why some races have been unable to set up systems of government and society that function well. Others are bogged down in tribalism and religious infighting.

    The key question is, would I treat someone poorly or differently because of their race? The answer is no.

    Interestingly, some people do not understand that Caucasians include dark skinned and white skinned people eg, Indians and many; confuse race with religion and culture.

  4. So is there any culture that is not racist?

  5. I was born into a white christian family had two half Indian older siblings, married at 19 to a Jewish girl who’s father was racist had two Jewish kids one of whom married a half Aboriginal so now I have 4 part Aboriginal grand kids, I am now living in Thailand with a lovely Thai lady, and yes I consider myself as racist. My father was a racist, my Indian brother was a racist my Jewish wife was a racist and most Thais are racist. It is a natural thing to be, it is in all of us but some do not admit it

  6. If loving my country and having completed military service of 22 years to protect my fellow Australians from those that would hurt us by destroying the culture of the first Australians and those who are now modern Australians ie born and bred here, thus ready to stand and be outspoken if those who want to impose their ideology on our culture and values. Then I am indeed a racist and proud of that strength.

    FIFO……fit in or f??k off.

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