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Now more than ever, the personal is political

  • 28 November 2018


In the aftermath of the Victorian State election, it seems progressive politics was able to claim a victory. Daniel Andrews won in a 'bloodbath' in what is being called a repudiation of Coalition fear politics regarding African 'gangs' and outdated 'tough on crime' policies.

On social media there was a palpable sense of relief from Australian-African activists. I started reading and liking the posts, not sure why I had a sense of déjà vu. Then I realised this collective exhale from the African-Australian community reminded me vividly of the sentiment from the LGBTQ community after the marriage equality survey results were announced. Relief, thankfulness.

I even recognised the same phrase from the postal survey, that the Victorian vote and the campaigning surrounding it had become a 'referendum' on African people living in Australia.

While these two instances aren't exactly the same and they hinge on different types of discrimination, it still feels eerily familiar. The cries from advocates saying how you're just ordinary Australians. The constant damaging media attention and news cycle giving voice to what seems like anyone with a bigoted take.

Feeling like you're representing the group at all times, because maybe you're the only person from that minority group a person knows or has actually ever met. The demand to distance yourself from the others in your minority group as though you are a monolith, while the most marginalised within those communities are pushed to the side.

Your bodies and experiences are politicised. The worth of your families and relationships are up for public consumption. Any time you point out how belittling this whole process is, you're told that you don't know how 'the game is played' and it's just politics. And when the vote is over, unaffected Australians get to pat themselves on the back for being so progressive this whole time without much consideration for the damage already done.

The effects of these types of fear campaigns linger well after the news frenzy has gone. In the essay, 'Dear postal survey: I hope you will turn out to be worth it one day', Felicity Marlowe writes to the marriage survey, 'You stormed across the calm and broke us. You exposed us to the elements — to the no voting neighbours we never would have known about ... What happens to everyone in your path you damaged along the way?'


"Targeted minority groups in Australia are only ever as safe as the next news