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Our media's vested interest in racism

  • 08 October 2018


Last week, I nearly gave up commentary. I have, over the six years that I have been doing this, threatened to quit commentary many times. At times it can be a tough gig. Writer's block is real. My most productive time when it comes to writing is around 10pm, which is rather inconvenient when I need to get up the next day for work. And sometimes, particularly on some really hard topics, the need to engage with these issues emotionally in order to unpack them in a way with which an audience can identify can take a toll.

But last week, I'd had enough and I took to social media to tell people. In a month where it felt Aboriginal people and other people of colour were continually under attack in this country, the call on Aboriginal commentators to respond to this and therefore convince the public of our humanity reached boiling point. I, and other Aboriginal people I knew, were expressing disillusionment and exhaustion. It was just too much.

In the space of merely four weeks, we had the Liberal Party leadership battle and the pity appointment of Tony Abbott as the 'Envoy for Indigenous Affairs' even though no one asked for him. We had the retrial of the Bowraville children murders dismissed based on a lack of new evidence in the case of one of the three children (though I note the current push to move this to the High Court).

Two children drowned in the Swan River following a police pursuit after reports they had been 'jumping fences'. A nine year old school girl refused to stand for the anthem at her school's assembly and right wing commentators went into meltdown. A Herald Sun cartoonist drew a racist and misogynistic cartoon of tennis players — caricaturing one as a Jim Crow era throwback while erasing the Japanese-Haitian heritage of another in a bid to portray 'white' innocence. Some Tasmanian football players then took the same caricature one step forward by dressing as Serena Williams using blackface.

Meanwhile, another Aboriginal man died in custody, and a coronial inquest into the death of a pregnant Aboriginal woman, potentially due to racism and neglect by the medical system, began.

As I said, this was merely a few weeks in the political landscape of this country. Yet my frustration wasn't at the continual torrents of racism that Australia managed to manufacture and the relentless hit-ups I