Hello, I am a privileged middle-class Caucasian woman and I probably have no right to talk about this, however, the repeated instances of racism, inequality and hate in both the America and Australia truly astound me and this is my way of standing up and saying IT’S NOT OK.
This blog is a result of a few influences. A couple of weeks ago a came across this post by American archivist Jarrett Drake about how he felt it was time to leave his profession due to a ‘complicit silence’, systemic racism and insensitivity. It made me think a lot about myself and my career as a librarian and how I could put myself in the shoes of fellow minority co-workers. I had seen the news from the US about the riots in Ferguson, MO, but felt very distant to what was happening there (though I am American, I have lived in Australia for over a decade). Drake’s post made me think twice about what was happening over there and how it translated to what was happening here in Australia, especially the quote about how archivists ‘curate history not confront it’.
The second major influence for this blog was reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I listened to it on audio book and it moved me to tears. It’s the account of a young African-American woman who witnesses her friend being shot by a white police officer. I just want to note here, that I love and respect police officers. My father was a police officer that died in the line of duty. The book however, was not about disrespecting police officers. In fact, the main characters’ uncle was a police officer. It was about what Drake was talking about in his blog, the systemic racism built into American society. It is well-written, dramatic and a wonderful eye-opening read for anyone from middle-school onward. One of the most important things this book does is look at racism head on and make the point that just because you don’t consider yourself a racist, have racist intentions and didn’t say or do a thing to intentionally hurt someone, that doesn’t what you said or did ok.
You might be thinking, what does all the American stuff have to do with Australia? It has everything to do with Australia. Racism is everywhere towards both migrants and the traditional owners of this land. Racially motivated police brutality in Australia might not be as direct as it is in America but it’s there. All you have to do is take a look at the statistics for Aboriginal deaths in custody. Also, there is the recent case in Kalgoorlie of a white man who ran over an Aboriginal teenage boy. The man was found ‘not guilty’ of killing the boy, by an all-white jury.
Now that my eyes are opened and I am more aware of what’s happening, what can I do to change it? I am outraged, I am saddened and I vow that I am no longer silent when it comes to racism. I will take every opportunity to bring up these issues, to urge people to read The Hate U Give, I will stand up against racist behavior at every opportunity and I will educate people when I can. As a librarian in a special collections library I will recognize the traditional owners of Australia at every opportunity.
If you want to know more about the issues I have discussed in my blog today, please consider looking at these sources:
Racism on the Rise in Australia – Sydney Morning Herald
Racism in Aboriginal Australia – Creative Spirits
If you work in the GLAM sector, I would highly recommend following the blog posts of ‘Archival Decolonist‘ Nathan Sentance. He has fascinating insights on Indigenous issues in the GLAM profession and I find myself reading his blog posts more than once just to digest all he’s saying.
One last thing: I know the little I’m doing is still not much in the scheme of things but I CARE, it’s a start.