The first time I heard a non-white migrant use the word
‘settler’ to describe all other non-white migrants in so-called Australia, I
recoiled at this naming that felt so unfamiliar to my experience. I didn’t
associate with being a settler because that term seemed to place me within the
same racialised group as white people – and I had my own familiarity facing their
In any case, the discomfort of that moment provoked some
thinking on my part, as well as a few conversations with Aboriginal people, non-indigenous
people of colour and white folk. After initially feeling that my position as a
brown migrant bore no relation to white colonialism, it became apparent that for
many Aboriginal people it most certainly did. Dispossession from country, loss
of access to resources, and the struggle to hold onto cultural forms are all
ongoing effects of an unceasing colonisation that remains in full swing. While
racial power in this country is still specifically invested in whiteness, there
are significant material benefits that non-indigenous people of colour have
been able to access as an effect of colonisation.
I’ve been noticing, and feeling inspired, by how many non-indigenous POC are increasingly finding ways to resist racism and colonisation and ensuring that they do this by actively acting in solidarity with Aboriginal struggle. This feeling was confirmed by seeing all the crews of POC on the march – whether just groups of friends or slightly more organised networks/alliances, it was a noticeable presence. The significance of this was further amplified in an excellent, fiery speech by Harry Bonifacio Baughan of the Asian Anti-Colonial Alliance.
I think it’s important to recognise that an outcome of colonisation and white supremacy is to keep disparate, marginalised peoples in a state of competition with each other. Our struggles are too often oriented towards appealing to the dominant, white power structures. When migrants cut across that by orienting our action towards First Nations people, we are undermining some of the power that whiteness holds and, more significantly, forging bonds of solidarity against racism, colonisation and white supremacy that could lead to new angles of attack.
‘Matangi, Maya, M.I.A.’ is a film about the discontinuities
and dislocations, and the adaptability and resilience of being a brown migrant
transplanted into a new, predominantly white culture. It is a film about the
multiplicity of identity that migrants live with – of re-discovering cultural heritage
as an anchor, at the same time as finding ways to enter into the surrounds in
which you now find yourself. And of course, it is a film about all these things
told through the story of the immensely popular, hip hop artist/musician/performer,
MIA. Some impressions:
A look back at 2018 and how white fragility describes a developing trajectory of white supremacy at a national level. How this shifts understandings of white fragility beyond simply being an individual weakness to reveal the interplay between interpersonal and structural racism.
2018, much like every single one of the preceding 230 years of this un-ceded land’s ongoing colonisation, managed to mark itself in the pages of racist infamy with the latest bouts of hysteria, paranoia, dog-whistling and racial-profiling. Considering the genocidal nature of that history and everything else that has passed, it might be possible to assume that there is nothing new to see, or be said, here. However, to effectively track and counter the active threat that racism presents, it is important to stay attuned to the variations in trajectory that occur in terms of discourse and action. One aspect that has become noticeable, if not to the same extent as in Europe and the USA, is that the far-right has managed to use a generalised state of hyper-racialised paranoia to find ways to enter the mainstream. While tracking this will not be the focus here, it is related to the discursive trajectory that I will be exploring in this article: how a sense of white fragility is increasingly articulated as a justification for the re-assertion of this country as a white space.
encountered P.O.S. when I was travelling in North America a couple of years
ago, passed to me by one of the rad anarcho-nihilist crew I was hanging with.
And that was basically his music: anarchist in the sense of being rebellious
and unruly, but nihilist also, in that it wasn’t preachy moralism trying to
‘convert’ everyone else to some cause. One of my favourite lines from an early
track called ‘Drumroll’ goes: “I ain’t no casualty/ Got no surface with
spotless morality/ My dirt may have to cover up my grave”.
How the death of Hamze Ibrahim is connected to that Serena Williams cartoon and what it says about the disciplining of people of colour’s emotions.
On a suburban Sydney street in early September, a brown man, Hamze Ibrahim, lay dying in his home. As word spread, grieving relatives gathered outside. The paramedics arrived. Soon after the police were called. In an official statement, the Australian Paramedic Association (APA) would denounce these relatives as a “violent mob” of “angry males”. News Corp culture warrior, Andrew Bolt, would make explicit the race-baiting that was inherent in the APA’s statement, by claiming that “such mob attacks suggest an ethnic or cultural factor”. A few days later the APA would backtrack almost completely, apologising and stating that no paramedics were assaulted or hindered in attempting to assist Ibrahim.