Can Racism be Addressed
Dawn French uses the phrase ???stealth racism??™, referring to the snide comments passed toward her husband, respected black comedian, Lenny Henry, she talks about how she never saw it unless she was around her husband and daughter, how as a white person she never came across it, however she leaves her interviewer, Andrew Denton in no confusion; Racism is certainly around, and it??™s vicious.
Racism has plagued every society for centuries. It appears that no countries are immune. Whether it is the Lynch Mobs of America or the Stolen Generation of Australia it seems that senseless and irrational violence towards a certain race or culture has been a part of every major community since the dawn of civilisation. So if there is seemingly no rational thinking behind this epidemic of hate, if it really does just exist and contaminate everything, can racism be addressed In order for racism to be combated we need to look into the past, it is clear to see that society has progressed from the time of slaves, to the time of Martin Luther King, to where we are today, however even more clear is that racism is still apparent in everyday life. Baring the small minority of those openly white supremacist individuals the majority of society is keen for a change in attitude, only last year America, infamous for it murky history and outstanding examples of racism, particularly in the Deep South, elected its first black President, Barak Obama. Obama??™s victory speech was played across the globe and in it was one particularly poignant message; ???Its the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.??™
What we need is a way to heal past wounds and a way to look together into the future, it will never be easy to heal a centuries-old past of pain, violence, discrimination and suffering but it is certainly possible, and even if the issue of racism can never be fully reigned in, if the generations before us have made too much irreparable damage then we can and we must at least try to look to the future maybe not for something perfect, but certainly for something better.
Kevin Rudd??™s first action as Prime Minister was a contrastingly decisive one. He said ???Sorry??™, something the Howard government had inexplicably and controversially refused to do for years, with the apology, with that priceless acknowledgement of past wrongs, came a promise, a promise not only to start ???closing the gap??™ between the health, education and life expectancy Indigenous Australians and White Australians (as of 2008 there was a 17 year gap in life expectancy) but also a promise to start the healing. And that is what Australia, and the world needs, healing.
For an idea of the horrors of Racism one need look no further then the USA, even after slave labour was abolished in 1865 the segregation of African Americans continued well into the 20th century and blatant discrimination has continued even beyond then. In ???To Kill A Mockingbird??™ Harper Lee expertly demonstrates this toxic hate that children were brainwashed into by their parents, at times it seems like Scout and Jem are the only ones who escaped it; Atticus teaches a fair and just way of life and that is what they follow, while others see their parents treating African Americans with neglect, discrimination and cruelty, and this is the model they follow; ???As you grow older, youll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and dont you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.[said Atticus]??™ In many ways Harper Lee??™s work resembles that of the most famous and inspiring speech of all time, that given by Martin Luther King where he talks of a dream, a dream of a world where ???the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood??™. Both the novel and the speech were given in a time where they conjured up great respect and inspiration and also great controversy and ill feeling, which eventually resulted in King??™s assassination; however it set the ground work for the kind of world we live in today and the world we will live in in the future.
It is from ???To Kill a Mockingbird??™, from Martin Luther King, from Barak Obama, even from Kevin Rudd??™s apology that proves that the capacity for change is undoubtedly there. It will not be easy to address racism but it can and must be done, every voice must be raised, it is now up to the public to take action, to stamp out racism in any and all its forms.