Racism in Australia

The Australian press reported on April 18 on the creation of a new Aboriginal rights magazine called Tracker that will focus on Aboriginal rights.

It will feature analysis and investigation of land rights, Aboriginal issues and expose the challenges of institutional racism and discrimination across Australian society.

The editor Chris Graham spoke about the need for a “genuinely independent, but well-resourced voice for Aboriginal people”.

I reproduce parts of the interview * * *

Why was Tracker created; who helped make it happen?

It is making the point that Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard wanted to talk about constitution reform, but Aboriginal people want to talk about their rights, economic development, and being given back what was taken from them. They want to talk about treaty and the issues Australia doesn’t want to talk about.

Land rights are about culture and heritage and land that belong to Aboriginal people, but a large part of it too is economic development.

We created Tracker for economic development, to communicate with members, and to reach the goals of keeping media and government to account.

The NT intervention is into its fourth year and is expanding. More Aboriginal people are dying in custody, and racist points of view in Australia get the most media attention. How will Tracker counter the impacts of media concentration and bias?

Tracker is a rights-based magazine. It focuses on rights-based issues. Land rights is an obvious key focus. Our first major feature is about NSW and national land rights.

The other areas of course are human rights and legal rights — both of which are consistently ignored by the government — and political rights too. And the mainstream media completely ignores the right to fair coverage.

We’re calling it agenda journalism — we are openly admitting we have an agenda: the agenda is Aboriginal rights.

All media have an agenda, but the difference between us and The Australian is that we admit we have an agenda.

The reality is no reasonable summation of the Australian media’s history could come to the conclusion that Aboriginal people have been treated fairly.

If you want to assist Aboriginal people through the media, and that’s our goal, then we have to look at doing things differently. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome.

Other oppressed minorities, particularly the Muslim community in Australia, are rejected by large sections of Australian society for not following “our way of life” or “our values”. But the same nationalist agenda demonises and scapegoats Aboriginal people. How can solidarity and unity be built to challenge this overt racism?

The mainstream media is good at being a mirror of Australian society — so the overt racism you see in the mainstream media shouldn’t surprise anyone, because Australia is an overtly racist country — so we reflect our redneck tendencies very well in the media.

And it does not do any good. In fact it does a lot of harm. It harms people every day. Refugees have been harmed irreparably.

But no one has been harmed more and over a longer period of time than Aboriginal people. They are the great victims of media distortion and government malaise.

I think it comes from a deep-seated insecurity and knowledge at some level that if we didn’t massacre Aboriginal people, we certainly benefited from it. The same goes for racism in general.

So I would suggest the Aboriginal community has a lot to offer about fighting overt and covert racism. I think there is a lot of sympathy for the way Muslims are treated, but not surprise.

We are a racist nation, there’s no two ways about it. Racism is born of ignorance and ignorance is overcome by education. But Australia’s media preserves ignorance, and it’s very hard to overcome that.”

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