Mark AnkucicMark AnkucicJul 27, 2016

Why Australia doesn't have a Black Lives Matter movement

When America sneezes, Australia tends to catch a cold.

I've been watching and waiting for the full brunt of the social justice mentality to rise in Australia. Thus far, there have only been smaller symptoms, usually out of sync with the rest of the national zeitgeist due to the nature of social justice being so very American - it is loud, brash, arrogant, unthinking, and holds to a belief that America is the last and ultimate reflection of humanity. You'll notice it in their sweeping rhetoric, claiming huge historical events from the perspective of what it's like to be from the US.

That's why black and white to them is literally black and white - there are white and there are (sigh) POC. To them, there is no difference between Russians, Slavs, Scandi's, the English, French or German peoples, as there is no difference between Africans, Aboriginal or peoples from the Caribbean.

It's just a simple split.

The reason that the sync is failing to happen in Australia is, I believe, exemplified by the state of Aboriginal Australians and their contrast to the Black Lives Matter movement.

We do not have protests of huge swathes of Aboriginal peoples in universities because they aren't represented there. There aren't any multi-million dollar Aboriginal rappers, or black millennials coddled by their parents enormous wealth being sent to the most exclusive and expensive institutions on earth.

In short, they do not have the same amount of privilege.

Entire publications in the US make their way through showing either perceived or real inequalities between the races in America. You could not do so in Australia. There are no figureheads with mass appeal or reach in the public or private sectors, and it is far from being a voting issue.

Our last election was the first one, since I've been voting, that didn't bring up boat people.

For my American readers, every election would bring up a scare campaign of people arriving illegally by boat, usually from places where it was infinitely preferable to risk death on the open sea than to stay where they were. The number of arrivals was laughable compared to the level of immigrants taken in from elsewhere, especially compared with how many illegal immigrants we have in the form of UK backpackers who've outstayed their visas.

Like all problems, this one is multi-faceted and hard to deal with - the majority of Aboriginal peoples in Australia do not live in major city areas - around 35% do. The rest live in Regional and remote areas, and like in every part of the developed world, the further from the city you are, the less likely you are to benefit from good education, well-maintained facilities and so on.

Aboriginal communities are also plagued with violence and abuse; the statistics, especially when compared to wider Australia, are horrific.

Obviously, and this should go without saying, it is not something inherent in Aboriginality, nor do I think it is inherent in Aboriginal culture (aside from the thigh stabbing, which is directly related to cultural practice). I think this is a poverty issue. Drugs, abuse, addiction, violence - these are found in every poverty-stricken place in the world. It is not segregated to race.

I'm not sure what to make of the Australian governments attempts to address the issue - we have special exceptions in education as well as incentives for employment and Aboriginal only programs, jobs, scholarships - the list goes on. Further, in our academic teaching qualifications, we are asked to undertake mandatory classes on Aboriginal educational culture.

It is a truly odd experience that rebels against every other 'theory' you encounter. For example, they tell you that a refugee student is a student first and a refugee second - in other words, you should treat all students as students, no matter what their background. If they have problems, you deal with it in the same way you would any student facing those problems.

Aboringal students are Aboriginal first and students second - lessons have to be taught in a way that reflects their culture, to the extent teaching students were asked to come up with ways to teach math and science in an Aboriginal way. It was a ridiculous, pointless and frustrating exercise, doubly so when those giving these assignments were so unable to justify them or be able to give simple examples of how to actually complete them.

You cannot tell Aboriginal students that the Dreamtime stories are myths. An Indigenous Australian lecturer told us about how, when about to go for a long walk on a hot day (in Australia, hot means you may die on such a walk), he saw 'the Old Man's face in the mountain telling him not to go'.

Common sense via delusion.

This same man claimed that tourists that had taken souvenirs of rocks at Uluru found themselves mysteriously ill and only recovered upon their return.

All within the halls of academia at Australia's most prestigious university.

In short, this man was no Neil Degrasse Tyson. He is not something to aspire to, nor to take seriously.

It is the result of a perverse and twisted 'burden of the white man' that has stunted necessary growth in the areas where it's truly needed for that community.

I've rambled, but the point that's been lost in my thoughts is that the privilege game is useless, and it is remarkable, and darkly funny, that only privileged can get their message of oppression taken seriously.

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