For people who aren’t white and living in a colonised and white supremacist society, being able to understand and process feelings of guilt, shame and trauma is an ongoing exercise that requires honest reflection and accountability. Where We Stand is a dance/ performance ‘ritual’ that facilitates this by inviting Indigenous and other people of colour into a theatre turned into a healing space filled with warm, soothing aural tones and soft places to be in. In that space, personal stories of the damage of these interlocking oppressive systems are shared amongst us. In being there, feeling the intimacy of relating such experiences, a question arises in my mind: how do these personal affects, these lifelong traumas shared between us as confessional mementos translate into forms of anti-colonial solidarity and action that might upturn the colonial, white supremacist society that we inhabit?Continue reading “Where We Stand: processing and transforming racial trauma, together.”
written in early 2019.
A veil of innocence
An affectation of innocence underscores white Australia’s relation to non-white migrants who arrive here. It exists as a certainty in the inherent goodness of the structures of liberal democracy, a belief that the welcome that has been given to us migrants is charitable and tolerant in such a way that reinforces a position of benevolent authority. In conjunction with this belief is the sense that non-white migrants are always looking to exploit the naïve, kindness of white Australia. This is a continuation of racist, colonial narratives that disguises the violence of colonisation by positioning white people as constantly endangered by the lurking, dangerous brown/ black other, who will use any means – barbaric and violent or sneaky and underhanded – to access all the goodness of white society. The sense of fragility and paranoia that these colonial narratives engender mean that migrants’ place here is predicated on endlessly demonstrating our gratitude for having been allowed to stay. We are expected to display our affection and attachment in ways that are both recognisable to, and uphold, the assumed neutrality of liberal democracy by not calling it for what it is: white, liberal democracy. This veil of innocence, of impartiality, attempts to obscure a founding violence that defines all racial politics in this country, while allowing for the ongoing exploitation and dispossession faced by First Nations people.Continue reading “Anti-colonial Affections: How migrants might spurn white Australia’s demands for love in favour of solidarity with Aboriginal resistance.”
“We will be beggars so long as we accept as universal the political divisions that cut up the white world and through which they conceive of the social conflicts and struggles that these divisions will engender. We will be beggars so long as we remain prisoners of their philosophy, of their aesthetic and of their art. We will be beggars so long as we do not call into question their version of History. Lets accept rupture, discord, discordance. Lets ruin the landscape and announce a new era”. – Houria Bouteldja
A nice white person once asked of me “can’t you be less antagonistic when challenging racism”? It was less a question, more a direction, imbued with all the faux-innocence and partitioning of ‘civilised rationality’ as a quality specific to whiteness, and therefore necessitating white people to preach the word. The imperative that justified colonisation as the bringing of civilisation to the barbarians, is now repeated by white liberals espousing ‘rational’ and ‘civilised’ debate in the face of racism and white supremacy.Continue reading “Confrontational and profoundly uncomfortable: why anti-racism and decolonisation can be nothing less (a reading of Houria Bouteldja’s polemical essay, ‘Whites, Jews and Us’).”
A very long essay I wrote around 7 – 8 years ago. I don’t love all of it now (and have edited a few bits out here) and it takes some ‘interesting’ twists and turns. However, I think the critique of liberal multiculturalism in the first half has some useful moments – although it’s heavily theoretical. Then there’s a strange middle section where I basically review a novel – ‘The Black Album’ by Hanif Kureishi – before a rambling ending that considers the possibilities of radical collectivity.
Understanding contemporary multiculturalism in Australia, in all its liberal, capitalist garb, sets a background from which we can consider why it is that certain traditional cultural forms – religion in particular – have an ongoing resonance for migrants. The point of which is not to lay a critique about cultural choices at the feet of particular migrant groups but instead to show how this resonance of traditional cultural forms exposes the empty core of liberal capitalism and its exhortations to individualistic, market-based choice. Much of this will be inspired by sections of Zizek’s evisceration of liberalism in Violence as well as taking a look at some of the ideas in The Black Album, Hanif Kureishi’s novel from London in the early 90’s.Continue reading “Untangling the knots: Finding collectivity in the mire of liberal multiculturalism.”
‘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:Continue reading “Matangi, Maya, M.I.A.”
written in September 2018
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.Continue reading “In Sadness, In Anger”