WHITE AUSTRALIA POLICY

White Australia policy | National Museum of Australia
Brass “White Australia” protection badge, 1906; source: National Museum of Australia

White Australia policy, formally known as the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, effectively stopped all non-European immigration into Australia.

“That end, put in plain and unequivocal terms… means the prohibition of all alien coloured immigration, and more, it means at the earliest time, by reasonable and just means, the deportation or reduction of the number of aliens now in our midst. The two things go hand in hand, and are the necessary complement of a single police – the policy of securing a ‘white Australia.'”

This, alongside other policies discriminating against BIPOC, developed from the racist ideas and criticisms against non-white groups that generally depicted those groups as less advanced than white people in all ways, especially morally and intellectually. This idea primarily aimed at people of Asian descent but applied to all BIPOC, including Indigenous Australians. Ironically, Australia saw itself as a utopia and a working man’s paradise. Thus, they aimed to attract a well-paid, male, white, and skilled labor force to uphold this image. Consequently, BIPOC and even working women were seen as a threat to this ideal and would be paid less.

The Immigration Restrication Act gave immigration officers the power to make any non-European migrant sit a 50 word dictation test. Since the language chosen for the dictation test was chosen by the immigration officer, it was easy to ensure failure for all migrants deemed undesirable. For example, a South Asian that knows English could be given a test in French, German, or, if need be, Lithuanian. The test was administered 1359 times prior to 1909, and only 52 people were granted entry to Australia. After 1909, not one migrant that was forced to take the test passed.

These policies would continue with full fervor until the late 1940s. After the Second World War, Arthur Calwell, the Chifley government’s immigration minister, started to relax the policy to allow refugees to come to Australia. However, the majority of the refugees reflected the White Australia ideal with only limited numbers of migrants from other backgrounds. In the 1970s, the Whitlam government completely eliminated the acts with the introduction of policies like the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975.

WHAT IS BLACKFACE?

Recently, a lot of celebrities and other people of power have been called out for their use of cultural appropriation, specifically blackface or, in the case of Bon Appetit’s ex-editor-in-chief, brownface. Cultural appropriation, sometimes called cultural misappropriation, is the “adoption or co-opting, usually without acknowledgment, of cultural identity markers associated with or originating in minority communities by people or communities with a relatively privileged status.” In media and mainstream culture, it seems that cultural appropriation runs rampant especially in the trends that we see. For example, the large hoop earrings seen on celebrities had been adopted from African culture. In the case of blackface, white people paint their faces black to “dress up” as black people. This had started nearly 200 years ago when white people painted their faces to mock enslaved Africans in minstrel shows (like a comic skit). It didn’t stop there. White performers would put on tattered clothes (to symbolize the poor-ness of black people) and exaggerated their features to look stereotypically “black.” This included using burnt cork and grease paint or shoe polish to darken their skin and red or white makeup to exaggerate their lips. They would also wear wooly wigs. In the shows, they would depict the enslaved Africans as lazy, ignorant, and cowardly. These performances were not only demeaning and hurtful to the black community, but also perpetuated inaccurate stereotypes of the black community.

The most popular blackface character was “Jim Crow.” The character was created by a white entertainer, and he would perform a song and dance act that was supposedly taught to him by a slave. Most might recognize the name “Jim Crow” because of its association with the laws that segregated, demeaned, and denied blacks basic human rights primarily from the 1870s to the 1960s (90 years!). Through these laws, it solidified the racial hierarchy throughout the USA as it ensured that the black community was forever on the bottom. These laws included segregating schools, redlining, segregating public facilities (black people would have to use the worse facilities where it was not well-kept, smaller, and older), segregating the bus, etc. Furthermore, intermarriage was prohibited.

The influence of the minstrel shows extended its way into media like movies where everyday American actors like Judy Garland, Shirley Temple, and Fred Astaire put on blackface in movies. Even black performers put on blackface, as they said it was the only way the could work. White audiences weren’t interested in watching black actors do anything but act foolish on stage, perpetuating the stereotype further. Furthermore, the only depiction of black life that white audiences saw was in minstrel shows. Therefore, by presenting enslaved Africans as the butt of jokes, it desensitized white Americans to the horrors of slavery.

Nowadays, as people are accused of blackface, they blame it on their own ignorance. However, with access to technology and information, we cannot blame things on our own ignorance and must own up to our mistakes. I encourage all of my readers to CALL PEOPLE OUT IF THEY’RE ARE DOING BLACKFACE OR ANYTHING DEMEANING TO ANOTHER RACE. RACISM IS NEVER OKAY!

While I’m uncomfortable with posting this image on my site, I think it serves as a way to further educate my readers as it shows how the media had portrayed the minstrel shows and blackface. As you can see, they have exaggerated the person’s features using makeup to signify a “stereotypical black man.”

Turkey in the Straw Sheet Music
A poster used to advertise a minstrel show

Originally published July 3

MESSAGING REPRESENTATIVES

This is a letter I had received in response to a letter that I wrote to my representative. Due to privacy reasons, I will not be disclosing who it is, but I hope this encourages someone to reach out to their representative and demand a change in the system, whether it be defunding the police, reforming the police, and passing laws to making sure that police should be arrested for their acts against innocent/guilty persons. We have a voice, and it is up to us to use it.

Dear {retracted}

Thank you for contacting me regarding the need for police accountability and reform.  I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

The murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks have exposed the institutional racism that exists in our society and criminal justice system.  Tragically, these stories follow what we have witnessed in other instances of police violence for many years, across the country and in {retracted}.  We are in the midst of the latest chapter in what is a long, American story of racial injustices that have taken far too many black lives.  The pain people are expressing with peaceful protests is real.  I see it, and I hear the calls for change.  It is clear that we must do a great deal more to address longstanding and systemic racial injustices in our country. 

An important first step is to change the culture of policing in America and build trust between law enforcement and our communities.  That is why I joined Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in introducing the Justice in Policing Act to fix and improve police training and practices, hold law enforcement accountable and help address systemic racism and bias to help save lives.  This legislation prohibits federal, state and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling.  The bill also bans the use of chokeholds, mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras, and establishes a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.  Furthermore, this federal reform legislation incentivizes states to adopt laws mandating independent investigation and prosecution of officer-involved deaths, and when law enforcement violates an individual’s constitutional rights, police would no longer be given “qualified immunity” from being held responsible for their actions.  You can read more about all the reforms included within the Justice in Policing Act here: {retracted}

Of note, policies that govern law enforcement are also made at the state and local level.  If you wish to further express your views on these policies, I strongly encourage you to also reach out to your local and state officials.  You can determine who all your elected officials are online at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

I believe that America has been awoken with the pain of carrying the wounds of racism for too long.  But we have also awoken with hope.  I see it with the diversity, both racially and generationally, of those peacefully protesting against racial injustice.  Please know I am inspired to do my part to bring about the racial justice we need in our country so that one day we may truly have liberty and justice for all.

Once again, thank you for contacting my office.  It is important for me to hear from the people of {retracted} on the issues, thoughts and concerns that matter most to you. If I can be of further assistance, please visit my website at {retracted} for information on how to contact my office.

Originally published June 19

We The People

This is an essay that my friend Rachel wrote that talks about the events that are going on in America. If you want to hear more from Rachel, check out her blog!

We the People

We are all human. Humans have evolved throughout time and have become complex creatures of the earth. We have shaped the earth in correspondence to how this world shaped us. How can we shape a world that is incomprehensible to us? The answer to that question remains a mystery, but all humans on this earth have done it and are continuing to do it. Let this empowering statement inspire you to do more regardless of your race. Not only black history, but human history is now. 

Growing up as a white female in a small town has sheltered me and caused a lack of diversity in my life. Over time I have been exposed to the history of the world and the people that have impacted these changes. Much of this history regards the civil rights movement. I was repeatedly reminded of the terrible things that people have endured simply because of their skin color, and that became ingrained in my head. Although that should never be forgotten, I wish I had learned more about the revolution these people single handedly started and the strength and courage they had. This should be a more widely spread lesson to people of all races because it really shows that anything is possible with perseverance. I am continually amazed at how much the times have changed, and ever since the year 2020 started, I have begun to realize that the times have not stopped changing. 

Racism is not genetic, it is taught. It has and continues to be taught to the younger generation by adults who are supposed to be mature. If we have truly been educated correctly on this topic, then why do these injustices keep recurring? This lack of maturity is exemplified in a video of a black man being physically abused and killed by a cop who is supposed to be protecting ALL American citizens. The fact that it has taken not only this black man, George Floyd, but multiple black people unjustly being killed to call attention to the injustice and corruption in our society today is despicable. This is why I find this movement so important. It is an opportunity for everyone to come together peacefully as one and provoke much needed change. Doing this will spread love in order to heal and grow together in the present and future. 

America is the home of the brave, and to me, the bravest people are the black people in this country. Not only have they had the courage to stand up for what they believe in, but they are the ones constantly fighting for the American dream to be a reality. They have not stopped fighting for their freedom and equality. This is the most inspiring thing to me, and always will be. It shows me that my generation can be the one to change the next and not teach ignorance and fear of expression, but rather accentuate the lesson to be a big person without making others feel small. My goal is to celebrate black history and stand proud together simply as humans. I want the next generation and all the generations after that to see how determined, courageous, and brave black people are. They have defied what white people thought of them in the past and we have them to thank for so many things in our everyday lives. I don’t want to only hope, but I want to be involved in the change that needs to happen. My generation was being taught to live in the shadows and simply go through the motions to achieve the American dream, but that will not make America great again. We the people must come together to create the change that has been long awaited. Instead of fearing the diversity in our world, we must appreciate, respect, and celebrate our differences. Human rights apply to every beautifully unique human. History is not done and neither is the fight to end injustice. 

Take time to remember all of the black lives that have been wrongfully persecuted, recognize your own value and capability as a person, educate yourself and learn from the past in order to grow, and most importantly, stand by one another with love. 

WHO IS CHRISTIAN COOPER?

Christian Cooper, a black man and an avid bird-watcher, was out birding in the Ramble – a section of Central Park full of winding paths and thick greenery – when he sees a dog off its leash. This goes against the Ramble’s rules, so Christian Cooper started to tell the owner (Amy Cooper) off for having her dog off-leash. He told CNN, “that’s important to us birders because we know that dogs won’t be off-leash at all, and we can go there to see the ground-dwelling birds. People spend a lot of money and time planting in those areas as well. Nothing grows in a dog run for a reason.” After the two continued to quarrel, Christian Cooper started filming Amy Cooper.

In the video, Amy Cooper tells Christian Cooper that she is going to call the police. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says. Then she tells the police, “There’s a man, African American, he has a bicycle helmet. He is recording me and threatening me and my dog.” While she is saying this, her dog appears to be straining and trying to get free while she tries to restrain it.

After the video was posted, Amy Cooper defended herself by saying “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.” Also, Christian Cooper accepted her apology saying, “I think her apology is sincere. I’m not sure that in the apology she recognizes that while she may not be or consider herself a racist, that particular act was definitely racist.”

My take: I do not think that she should be forgiven for her act, to be honest. After this event, she has been fired from her job, and she reports that “her entire life is being destroyed right now.” She was in the wrong and Christian Cooper had not been physical and was not demanding. She should have abided by the park’s rules and had her dog on a leash. If the officers had been similar to other officers who had murdered black people because of false accusations by white people, then Christian Cooper would be murdered. She should not be excused from her act just because of a simple mistake. Without the post going viral, would she have not realized her mistake and kept doing them? She took advantage of a toxic and deadly racial stereotype for an ephemeral gain. She knew what she was doing, as she had forewarned Christian Cooper of her intention, just how dangerous the possible outcome of her lie could have been. I’m going to open the floor for others to respond with their take on this event.

Originally published June 7

RECOGNIZING PRIVILEGE

Recently, the word white privilege has been thrown around a lot in conversation and social media. Some people might be wondering, “what exactly is white privilege?” People often describe white privilege in the same way that Peggy McIntosh did in her essay, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. White privilege refers to the societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people in societies. You might be like, ‘this makes no sense! I am not privileged compared to others.’ However, when you go into a store, how many shampoos and conditioners are catered to African hair? Are the bandaids you pick up matching your skin? When you turn on your TV, how many black people are there? If there are black people in the show, chances are that they are used to “enhance diversity.” Black people with dark skin are barely cast in shows. People with “ethnic-sounding names” have a lower chance of being cast in shows. Furthermore, directors go as far as whitewashing the cast. Whitewashing is a casting practice in which white actors are cast in non-white roles. People of color are not represented in the media. By presenting white people in colored people’s roles, it sends a message to little kids to want to be like white people. Additionally, white people are more likely to see positive portrayals of people who look like them on the news, on TV shows, and in movies.

White privilege is not the assumption that everything a white person has accomplished is unearned. White privilege should be viewed as a built-in advantage, separate from one’s level of income or effort. White privilege can also be viewed as the “power of normal.” The items that we find in the grocery store are things that reflect the cultural traditions of most white people. Though people dismiss these inconveniences of having their needs be labeled as special, these inconveniences hide something beneath the surface. If public spaces and goods cater to one race and segregate the needs of people of other races into special sections, it shows that these places aren’t welcoming to other races.

Why does white privilege prevail? Who built the system that caused white privilege to prevail and keeps it going? It prevails because of systemic racism. Systemic Racism is what happens when racism (which is defined as “individual- and group-level processes and structures that are implicated in the reproduction of racial inequality”) are carried out by groups with power like governments, businesses, or schools. It had started when the government was tasked with divvying up the cities into sections that designated what part was desirable and undesirable for investing. This process was called “redlining.” It blocked off black neighborhoods from access to public and private investments. Banks would use these maps to deny black families loans and other services. So, black people weren’t able to buy a house due to banks, AND they weren’t able to go to college because of LEGAL SEGREGATION. Today, redlining is still used in Chicago and other areas.

To learn more about systemic racism, raceforward.org has created a series of videos that show how racism shows up in our lives across institutions and society.

Another great video that explains systemic racism simply is act.tv’s video.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?

Image credit: lawyers weekly

DONATE

  1. GEORGE FLOYD MEMORIAL FUND
  2. MINNESOTA FREEDOM FUND
  3. RECLAIM THE BLOCK
  4. BLACK LIVES MATTER
  5. BAIL PROJECT
  6. BLACK VISIONS COLLECTIVE
  7. CAMPAIGN ZERO
  8. NATIONAL BAIL FUND NETWORK
  9. THE INNOCENT PROJECT
  10. RUN WITH MAUD
  11. JUSTICE FOR BREONNA
  12. ANTI POLICE-TERROR PROJECT
  13. COMMUNITY READY CORPS

If you don’t have money, watch this playlist of videos that I’ve curated that donates money to various organization. Make sure that your adblock is off as these videos use the money that it garners through Adsense and then the creator donates the money to organizations that help.

EDUCATE YOURSELF

READ:

  • BLACK FEMINIST THOUGHT – PATRICIA HILL COLLINS
  • ME AND WHITE SUPREMACY – LAYLA F. SAAD
  • HEAVY: AN AMERICAN MEMOIR – KIESE LAYMON
  • I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS – MAYA ANGELOU
  • WHITE FRAGILITY: WHY IT’S SO HARD FOR WHITE PEOPLE TO TALK ABOUT RACISM – ROBIN DIANGLO
  • BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME – TA-NEHISI COATES
  • BELOVED – TONI MORRISON

Also, if you click on this link, there are hundreds of free liberation documents from activists like Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and Toni Morrison.

PROTEST (peacefully and safely!)

Currently, the police are acting violently and arresting protesters. This includes using tear gas, shooting rubber bullets, driving vehicles through crowds, and macing children. Stay safe and be careful! Some supplies you should bring are: a backpack, water, face masks, hats/sunglasses, snacks, signs, change of clothing, walking shoes, cash (instead of credit cards). DO NOT WEAR CONTACTS! If tear gas gets into your eyes when you have contacts, you could be blinded. WRITE DOWN EMERGENCY NUMBERS ON YOUR ARM. Here is a link to a website that has a lot of information on how to protest safely: https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-protest-safely-gear-tips/

EMAIL/CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND DEMAND A CHANGE IN THE SYSTEM

SIGN PETITIONS

BECOME AN ALLY
HIRE, PROMOTE, AND SUPPORT BLACK PROFESSIONALS
RAISE AWARENESS BY POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA
RECOGNIZE YOUR PRIVILEGE

Additional ways you can help can be found at this link

Originally posted June 5

WHY ARE THE PROTESTS HAPPENING?

On May 25th, a white Minneapolis policeman named Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for approximately nine minutes while George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was handcuffed face down. Despite Floyd repeatedly saying that he couldn’t breathe, Chauvin refused to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck. The other policemen involved in the scene were Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane. The other officers further restrained Floyd and one prevented onlookers from intervening. Despite the fact that during the final three minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse, the policemen made no efforts to revive him, and Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck even as arriving emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him. This ordeal arose because Floyd had been suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a market.

The next day, after videos of this event circulated the internet, the four officers were fired. On May 29th, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. However, at this point, the other police officers had not been charged. On June 3rd, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison amended Chauvin’s charges to include second-degree murder along with the other officers.

Protests have ensued across the country, in all 50 states, to protest against police brutality. This event isn’t unheard of in the USA. Throughout history, countless people have been murdered as a result of police brutality and ‘accidents.’ However, the policemen involved in the murders are not always held accountable. This is evidenced by Tamir Rice and his killer, who still is free while Rice is dead. If you are reading please take a look at the list of names of people that have died under the hands of a policeman. On the list is 343 names. 343 innocent people. Also, if you are able to, please donate to George Floyd’s memorial fund.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is list-of-names-576x1024.jpg

originally posted June 4

SPEAK UP

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

Desmond Tutu

This quote amplifies the message that we SHOULD be sharing ways to help through our social media. In another post, I had said that I was hesitant to even repost information because I thought I would be “getting political.” However, I have realized that this isn’t a political issue but rather a humanitarian one. We aren’t talking about voting or polls, we are talking about saving human lives and fighting for justice. If you’re worried about how people will perceive you, ask yourself, “Who are the people that I’m surrounding myself with?” If they are going to make fun of you for calling attention to injustice, then they are the oppressor we are trying to educate. Black people are being killed right now, the least we can do is share information and try to educate. We need to say their names.

The post below has helped me realize these things.

originally posted June 4